Crowds have protested in Cork city against the continued lockdown, despite Garda checkpoints seeking to turn back demonstrators and warnings that those attending could face fines. 

Protestors gathered in Patrick’s Street in the city centre and heard from speakers including Peter O’Donoghue, who said he was marching for his mother, who having buried her second son, “was never again allowed to see her dying sister because of unnecessary lockdown.”

He said his brother Tom who died from cancer was buried this day last year and that said “If he was alive he would be marching before me.”

“I march for all the people who have died lonely from all causes since lockdown started .. and for their families too, who have not been allowed to grieve properly.” He said he also wanted to represent the old people who have been “imprisoned in their own homes and had their sense of purpose taken from them.”

 

Amongst the protestors were star Cork camogie players Katríona and Pamela Mackey who told Red FM that the lockdown had gone on for twelve months and that people – especially those with mental health needs or in need of screening or medical treatment were now “collateral damage” and that this was “not acceptable”.

 

The People’s Convention which organised the event said that it was a “peaceful assembly, not a protest” and that people had exercised their right to protest. Estimating that “at least 2,000” had been in attendance, they said that they wanted an end to the lockdown and that the public health service needed to fully open again. They also said that the right of people to work was protected under the Constitution. Diarmuid Ó Cadhla said that Ireland’s lockdown was the longest in Europe and that the country had taken on a debt of €50 billion due to the ongoing restrictions. “The people will have to pay this debt,” he said, “how and why and when we are not being told and if we try to discuss it we are somehow being labelled as terrorists or madhatters of some kind. We are not that.”

There was a considerable Garda presence in Cork city but the event passed off without incident. The Gardai did arrest a street performer earlier who had no connection to the anti-lockdown rally.

People Before Profit Cork said they were “strongly opposed to the protest.”