The bridal party and organisers behind the staging of an “illegal” wedding after party in Co Longford which attracted more than 100 guests, have been ordered to explain in court their decision to “flagrantly” breach public health guidelines.
Judge Keenan Johnson issued the direction at a special court sitting in Longford on Thursday afternoon after an estimated crowd of 120 people attended the celebration after a Traveller wedding on Wednesday evening.
The judge said he wanted to hear from each of the parties involved as to why the event proceeded just hours after an emergency circuit court injunction was granted to remove a 2,000sq ft marquee which had been erected 24 hours previously.
“The dogs on the street knew that this was a complete breach of all public health regulations,” he said.
“It’s outrageous, absolutely scandalous. Not alone have they defied the public health regulations, they have flagrantly defied a specific court order.”
The judge said the contempt shown by both the organisers and attendees in defying a court order was akin to a “law of chaos” in view of present Covid-19 health guidelines.
“This is an insult to the people of Longford that an event such as this which was a potential superspreader took place in the town,” he said.
“It’s an insult to all the people who are abiding by all the health regulations. There is a light at the end of the tunnel because people have abided by the regulations and yet these people are putting that all in jeopardy by flagrantly ignoring the law.
“It’s a complete insult to all young couples who have had to defer their weddings or scale them back to comply with Covid guidelines.”
The court heard submissions from Niall Flynn, for Longford County Council, who said the local authority had done "everything within its remit" to prevent the gathering taking place.
He revealed there had been “concerns” among council staff about the “potential atmosphere” they would face if they removed the marquee.
As a result, Mr Flynn said independent contractors from Blanchardstown were procured to dismantle it but when they arrived around 5pm a large number of guests were already inside.
Supt Jim Delaney said he and his officers had enacted all of the legislative measures open to them, insisting their role was to provide assistance to the council in the servicing of the court injunction.
He said gardaí spoke with members of the bridal party, the owner of the marquee and caterers involved in the event’s organisation, serving them with written copies of the Covid-19 health regulations.
Supt Delaney also said a detective garda had overheard the father of the bride tell the owner of the marquee: “Under no circumstances are you to take down that marquee.”
He also revealed his concerns at how the contractors were “poorly equipped”, adding that by the time they arrived the celebrations were already under way.
He insisted “no request” was made to any of his officers to remove anyone from the marquee.
The judge ordered the bride and groom, their parents, the marquee owner and caterers to attend a special court sitting in Longford on Monday.