The risk of violence at an anti-lockdown protest due to take place in Cork on Saturday afternoon is “infinitesimally small,” according to one of its organisers.
Diarmuid O Cadhla, secretary of The People’s Convention, told Newstalk Breakfast that he did not expect people attending to wear masks but that they would be inviting people “to exercise care in terms of public health.”
Mr O Cadhla said that organisers had been “collaborating” with gardaí in Cork and that the event was “not a protest as such”, but a public assembly.
“It’s a rally demanding that the Government should clarify to us why are they having continued lockdowns 12 months later while the WHO has said it is only justified in the short term in order for governments to allow themselves to get into mode of dealing with the virus which is going around,” he said.
“We're not virus deniers, we're also wanting the Government to answer why has Ireland the longest lockdown of any country?” he added.
“We will be asking people, we're mature adults, I expect people will follow some guidelines and to respect those around them and respect the public homes they're going to return to afterwards.”
There were “mountains of problems” with health and mental health mounting because of lockdown which were not being addressed, Mr O Cadhla said.
He added that the gardaí were dealing “nicely” with the issue of the violence that had occurred in Dublin last weekend.
“The gardaí seem to be dealing with that nicely and I'm happy that they are doing so and I wish them well. I hope they have success in finding the root cause.
“We are collaborating with gardaí here in Cork as well, we have people who are experienced in organising public assembly and we will be vigilant. This is a peaceful family-friendly event.”
However, gardaí have warned some of the organisers of tomorrow’s planned anti-lockdown rally could face a criminal investigation if it goes ahead.
The Irish Examiner reports that a "substantial operational policing plan”, which includes public order units, has now been prepared amid fears the event could be hijacked by those intent on violence.
The violent scenes at a rally in Dublin last weekend have informed the preparation of the policing plan for Cork City on Saturday, a senior Garda spokesman said.