Co-director of Pavee Point, Martin Collins, has said it was not acceptable that hundreds of people ignored public health restrictions to attend a funeral in Leitrim on Thursday.
Nearly 300 mourners attended St Mary's Cemetery in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim on Thursday, for the funeral of a 22-year-old man who recently died in Britain.
Members of the Travelling community in Carrick-on-Shannon and Longford town were joined by relatives living in Britain for the funeral of Davey Reilly, which drew a large Garda presence to the town for the past two days.
Such actions were "very concerning", Mr Collins told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland. "It was not acceptable that some people were behaving this way."
Traveller NGO Pavee Point had consistently promoted the message that all people needed to adhere to public health measures, he said.
Cultural norms and traditions would have to take a back seat during a pandemic, he said. More people would die from Covid-19 if public health measures were not met, he said.
Mr Collins repeated the message from the National Public Health Emergency Team's Professor Philip Nolan that it was important the public not relax from observing the restrictions.
It was not just members of the Traveller community who were ignoring guidelines he said pointing out that there had been incidents with students partying and ‘golfgate’.
Regardless of ethnic origin it was not acceptable to ignore public health guidelines, he said.
The HSE’s director general, Paul Reid, warned that there is a high level of transmission of Covid-19 at funerals, which can lead to a high impact on communities.
Funerals were a difficult time for people who were grieving, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
Ultimately what hurt people was that they had made sacrifices and then to see events like the large funeral in Carrick-on-Shannon on Thursday and other events “that’s what rocks people.”
Under current Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions in the State up to 10 mourners can attend a funeral.
Throughout Wednesday, mourners arrived at the Shannonside View estate in the Attirory area of the town to pay respects. Dozens of UK-registered vehicles were observed throughout the town on both days.
Gardaí set up checkpoints on the N4 approach into the town and also at various points in the Attirory townland.
Residents of the estate erected a large marquee on site which was full on Wednesday night. Portaloos were also erected and a UK-registered jeep was parked across the entrance to the estate to block any vehicular access.
Following the funeral, a large number of mourners who had initially been turned away gathered on foot in a nearby car park and ran through a Garda checkpoint and made their way to the marquee nearby.
The funeral Mass was celebrated on Thursday by Fr Frank Garvey PP with reduced numbers attending in St Mary's Church. After the Mass, Mr Reilly's remains were brought to St Mary's Cemetery in a horse-drawn glass hearse led by two white horses.
Three hundred metres from the cemetery, the hearse was met by about 100 mourners and the coffin was removed and carried the remainder of the way.
Mourners held aloft floral tributes and music was played aloud as the cortege made its way to the cemetery with about 300 people present, none of whom were seen to be wearing protective face masks.
Following the burial, Gardaí again set up checkpoints in Attirory and tried to prevent vehicles or pedestrians from accessing the Shannonside View estate where the marquee was still erected.