Gardaí investigate how Dublin anti-mask protest was organised

Number of disturbances at protest also under investigation after man left severely injured

Hundreds attended the anti-face mask protest in Dublin on Saturday afternoon. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Hundreds attended the anti-face mask protest in Dublin on Saturday afternoon. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

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A Garda investigation has begun into an anti-face mask rally held in Dublin at the weekend on suspicion it breached coronavirus regulations prohibiting the organising of events.

Separately, a number of disturbances at the rally were also under criminal investigation, including one incident during which men who were armed with sticks or batons clashed with others present. *

They wore black caps and scarves covering their faces, as well as PPE-type latex gloves, and clashed with a number of other men present in what appeared to be a pre-planned attack. One man suffered significant injuries before gardaí restored order. *

The event was organised by the Health Freedom Ireland, which says it is a non-political organisation, with support from Yellow Vest Ireland.

Potential breaches

Garda sources confirmed the organisation of the event was under investigation in the same way the organisers of the Black Lives rally in Dublin in June were placed under investigation. “Where potential breaches of the public health regulations are identified a file is submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a direction as to how to proceed,” the Garda said.

There were four men arrested at the event; one for breach of the peace, two for public order and another for possession of an offensive weapon. Three are due to appear before the courts next month while the fourth man was released pending a summons to court.

Meanwhile, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has urged the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, which hears immigration cases, to “act urgently” after the appearance of one of its members, Una McGurk SC, at the rally.

Ms McGurk, a barrister, told the rally the official Covid-19 statistics had been overestimated. Other speakers included members of the Irish Freedom Party which wants to “regain control” of Ireland’s border to more closely control immigration.

* This article was amended on August 25th, 2020

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