Large crowds gathered in the centre of Dublin on Saturday afternoon to protest against Government public health restrictions and the new vaccine passport system.
The protest coincided with other anti-restriction protests around the world, including in London, Paris and Sydney.
There was a large Garda presence in Dublin’s city centre as families and people of all ages, many draped in the tricolour, walked from the Custom House via O’Connell Street to Government Buildings. Those too young to walk were wheeled in buggies.
A Garda spokeswoman said the protest “concluded peacefully” shortly before 6pm. A policing operation had been put in place for the protest, which had been planned on social media, she said.
Roads around the protest were blocked and traffic on many streets was brought to a standstill as the caravan of people, numbering more than a thousand, passed through chanting “freedom”. Some drivers beeped in support of the protestors.
There were many flags – Irish, US, and pirate – as well as signs claiming the new vaccine passport system is creating a “medical apartheid”.
Others referenced the Covid-19 vaccine, saying: “my body, my choice” and “your children will be next”.
There were virtually no masks among the participants, and some instructed passersby to remove their face coverings because they claimed people “are not infectious”.
There was a festival atmosphere on Merrion Street as music boomed until speakers took to a platform outside Government Buildings.
One speaker, “who you might have seen on Facebook” the crowd was told, called for “vitriolic anger” in response to continuing Covid-19 restrictions.
There were boos at the mention of President Michael D Higgins, who signed into law on Wednesday new legislation that paved the way for indoor dining for people with immunity to the virus.
The speaker said he had “disdain for what this State has become” and blamed “treacherous media” for selling out the Irish people.
The Garda spokeswoman said it continues to appeal to all citizens to demonstrate personal and social responsibility and to comply with public health guidelines and regulations.
Wearing face coverings and social distancing in open spaces are not penal regulations but public health guidelines, she said.