Hundreds of people protest Government response to pandemic

Woman charged for public order related offences after city centre demonstration

 

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Convention Centre in Dublin on Wednesday night to protest against the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Protestors, which included some anti-mask and anti-vaccination demonstrators, congregated outside the Docklands venue at 9pm and had dispersed by around 1am.

A woman in her 30s was arrested and has been charged for public order related offences following the protest.

A further protest is due to take place at the Phoenix Park from 7pm on Thursday.

TDs on Wednesday passed Government legislation to allow for the reopening of indoor dining. The Health (Amendment No.2) Bill 2021 will allow pubs and restaurants to resume indoor service for those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or who have recovered from the disease in the last six months.

An Garda Síochána said regular Garda units were deployed to maintain order and rolling road closures were put in place to facilitate the safe movement of those involved and management of traffic.

A woman aged in her 30s was arrested for public order related offences and has since been charged and released from custody, gardaí said on Thursday.

She is due to appear before the Criminal Courts of Justice at a later date.

“In supporting the COVID-19 public health guidelines and regulations, An Garda Síochána has and will continue to adopt a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent,” a Garda spokesman said.

“This has seen gardaí engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce. Any Garda activity in relation to evolving events is in line with this graduated policing response taking into account public health regulations and advice.”

Waving flags and shouting various slogans including “shame on you” the crowd crossed all age groups but included a large number of young people and those who said they had never previously attended a demonstration before but were angry at what they perceived as a division of society between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, which they said was discriminatory.

The legislation was passed by 74 votes to 68 and will now go forward to the Seanad for consideration.

The protest ended long before the Dáil which continued until close to 3 am in debate on a series of guillotined Bills and motions including the landmark and controversial Climate Change and Low Carbon Development Bill which now goes to go back to the Seanad for a third time after further amendments linked to the EU’s so-called “fit for 55” which aims to cut emissions to 55 per cent below their 1990 level by 2030.

The Local Property Tax Amendment Bill provoked lengthy debate at committee stage over changes that will widen the bands and include for the first time homes built since 2013, before it was passed by 92 votes to 48.

TDs also agreed a series of motions ranging from international tax agreements between Ireland and Germany and Kosovo on income and capital gains tax, to revised estimates on public services.