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Covid breach Gardaí break up crowd gathered at Limerick cemetery to celebrate deceased’s birthday

There was little or no mask wearing or social distancing

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Gardaí have dispersed a large group of people from a cemetery as they celebrated a deceased’s birthday, in what offcers described as a “contravention” of Covid-19 public health guidelines.

An estimated 200 people gathered and played loud music from a stereo system at St Joseph’s Cemetery, Rathkeale, Co Limerick, today.

They brought tables, chairs, food and refreshments, said an informed source.

There was little or no mask wearing or social distancing, they added.

Gardaí were alerted to the scene and cleared the group from the graveyard. Files are to be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“Shortly before 3pm on Sunday 28th February 2021 gardaí from Rathkeale attended at a local cemetery where a large group of people had gathered in contravention of current public health measures,” a Garda spokesman confirmed.

“The organisers of the gathering were identified and those present dispersed peacefully. No arrests were made.”

The Garda spokesman reminded the public: “The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended, are currently in force.

“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,” he said.

This method of policing, during the pandemic, “has seen gardaí engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce”.

“Where gardaí identify potential breaches of the public health regulations a file is prepared for the DPP in each case or a Fixed Payment Notice is issued where appropriate,” they added.

A local source said: “This is the lowest of the low here in Rathkeale. We’ve had large groups of people gathering for funerals and weddings in the town during the pandemic, but this is just ridiculous.

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“They gathered in their droves inside the cemetery with tables and chairs, having a birthday party in the cemetery, it’s absolutely ridiculous, and not only that, it’s insulting to the dead people in that cemetery,” they added.

Gardaí are separately investigating alleged breaches of public health guidelines after a reported 150 people attended a funeral in Rathkeale last month.

Last Christmas gardaí encountered house parties and other public health contraventions in Rathkeale “involving gatherings by large groups at private establishments and on public thoroughfares in the town”.

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