West Cork TD calls for calm, urges people not to take law into own hands

Holly Cairns warns against judging people by accents or car registrations during pandemic

Holly Cairns told The Irish Times that a number of signs have begun to appear at various locations around West Cork, urging anyone who is not local to the area to leave the area and return to their homes. Photograph: Holly Cairns

Holly Cairns told The Irish Times that a number of signs have begun to appear at various locations around West Cork, urging anyone who is not local to the area to leave the area and return to their homes. Photograph: Holly Cairns

 

A west Cork TD has called for calm and urged people not to take the law into their own hands over concerns they might have that visitors are ignoring government guidelines on containing Covid-19 and coming into the area.

Social Democrat TD, Holly Cairns said she had been contacted by a number of people living in West Cork, who felt they were being judged because they may not have local accents amid concerns that visitors were coming into the area.

“A few people got in touch with me to say that they felt hostility was growing towards them - people who may not have a local accent but do live here who feel that there were being judged when they went to the local shop.

“Somebody might have asked them how long were they here for and perhaps people were just being friendly but because of the growing watchfulness over the spread of Covid-19, people were interpreting it in an different way.”

Ms Cairns told The Irish Times that a number of signs have begun to appear at various locations around West Cork, urging anyone who is not local to the area to leave the area and return to their homes.

But she pointed out that many people who have long been resident in West Cork may not have local accents despite their many years living in the area so people should not necessarily judge people by their accents.

“I mean was born in West Cork but you wouldn’t say I have a strong West Cork accent - it’s the same with car registrations - just because somebody is driving a D-reg car doesn’t mean they are not living locally here in West Cork.”

Ms Cairns has called on communities to “keep West Cork friendly” and let the Gardaí deal with any problems with people breaking the 2km rule or using holiday homes and caravans when they should not.

Hardship

Ms Cairns has taken to social media to urge calm, saying that while she understands that people have grave concerns about infection and are finding the restrictions hard, they should not take the law into their own hands.

“I want to put the call out to people to take care of themselves and each other - don’t take the law into your own hands, don’t assume people are/aren’t local and should/shouldn’t be here.”

Ms Cairns said she understood how people may be worried given the hardship they are facing in social distancing and isolation and the uncertainty over the duration of the lockdown can add to people’s watchfulness and hostility.

“Let’s lead by example and let Gardaí take care of the rest. Keep it friendly - tourism is a really important industry and people come here because of the lovely warm welcome they get so it’s important we remember who we are.”

No reports

Chief Supt Con Cadogan of West Cork Garda Division said that gardaí had received no reports to date of anyone being threatened or intimidated or told to leave West Cork.

However he said if anyone had such experiences they should contact gardaí and the matter would be investigated fully but he stressed that the vast majority of people had been abiding by government advice to stay at home.

“What we did notice is that around mid-March before the major lockdown, there was an influx of UK nationals and others with holiday homes in the area but they are all cocooning and respecting the government guidelines.”