Several thousand people protested against vaccine passports and other Covid-19 public health measures in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.
They marched from Parnell Square to D’Olier Street before turning into Westmoreland Street and going back to the General Post Office, for a rally.
At one stage the top of the march was at the GPO while the tail of the march was passing the Gate Theatre.
Speaker Rachel Ní Faoláin said those who had not been vaccinated were no greater a risk to society than those who had been double or triple jabbed with a Covid vaccine.
She said she was against Covid certificates and the encouragement of discrimination against “a new minority”.
There were large cheers from the crowd as she complained about the treatment of those who did not have vaccine passports and said “coercion” should never be acceptable in a functioning democratic society.
“Over the past twenty months, our society has evolved into a dictatorship, a totalitarian dystopia,” she said, speaking from a platform beside the Spire.
“It has become intolerant... hate speech towards unvaccinated people has become the norm and is now rising exponentially.”
The Irish media were criticised by Ms Ní Faoláin for their coverage of the public health measures.
Many of those attending the march for “Truth and Civil Rights” carried placards critical of the reporting on the pandemic.
A woman who didn’t want to give her name said she was at the march because she was in favour of informed consent, and believed that for consent to be meaningful, it had to be without coercion.
At the moment, she believed, people were being “firmly coerced” into getting the Covid vaccine.
This was happening in many ways, on social media in relation to young people, while with older people there was a “massive public health campaign that shows a particular narrative.
There are many people who are of the view that there are other sides to that narrative.”
I'm here because I have young children and the recent comments from Nphet about masking children, from nine upwards, I find that abhorrent
There had been mention in the media that, maybe, it is time to have mandatory vaccination, “I feel that is a really pivotal moment.”
She had not attended any marches against Covid measures before this, she said, partly because of how they were labelled, but she felt a line had been crossed, especially with talk of children having to wear masks in school.
“It is time for people to push back. Enough is enough.”
Robert Mahony, from Swords, said he was there to protest at the segregation of society into the non-vaccinated and the vaccinated.
People who have decided, for whatever reason, not to get vaccinated, should not be discriminated against, he said.
“I’m also here because I have young children and the recent comments from Nphet about masking children, from nine upwards, I find that abhorrent.”
Aminah Dastan, from Dublin, said she was there because she felt there was a strong middle-ground that was not being represented by the mainstream media.
Both the left and the right in power were not representing the people who were at the march, she said. She trusted the people at the march more than the “agendas and narratives that are at play”.
These agendas included excluding people on the grounds of the Covid certificate. If people wanted to say no to the vaccine, they had the right to do so, she said.
“This is not an anti-vax campaign. I don’t want to see the word anti-vax beside my name.”
However, a number of people who were at the march were carrying placards that criticised the Covid vaccines.
The protest disrupted traffic and Luas services in in the city centre for a number of hours.
The World Health Organisation says that the seven Covid-19 vaccines it has decided meet the necessary criteria for safety and efficacy “provide a high degree of protection against getting seriously ill and dying from the disease, although no vaccine is 100 per cent protective.”
It says getting vaccinated is a safer way to develop immunity than getting sick with Covid-19, and that even those who are vaccinated should continue to take precautions, such as washing their hands and avoiding poorly ventilated areas, because vaccinated people can still get ill, and still pass the virus on to other people.