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'think of the kids' Hundreds of anti-maskers march through Dublin - despite lifting of Covid restrictions

'We will continue to the end of March to ensure that these emergency powers are not renewed'


Hundreds of people gathered in Dublin this afternoon for a protest demanding the end of all Covid-19 restrictions. 

More than 700 people marched from the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin city centre and around D'Olier Street until they stopped for a rally at the GPO.

There, they heard speakers say the campaign will continue until all restrictions are lifted - despite the Taoiseach's announcement on Friday that social distancing and the Covid cert had come to an end.

Chanting “no mask mandate”, “repeal the legislation” and “what about the children” they carried banners demanding that the Government "leave the kids alone" and “are you watching RTE.”

Some recent studies have found that requiring children – and particularly adults – to wear face masks in schools can potentially decrease Covid-19 outbreaks at schools.

But speaking ahead of the march, Diarmuid O Cadhla of the independent campaign "for truth and proper health care", said they were “standing for truth.”

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The march sets off along O'Connell Street

The march sets off along O'Connell Street

The march sets off along O'Connell Street

“We believe that during this lockdown period of the last over two years now the Irish people have not been told the truth about this current health crisis,” he said.

“And neither have we been given proper health care despite the fact that we're supposed to be in a pandemic.

“We're here today united with the Enough is Enough group to organise a march following the Taoiseach’s announcements last night that he was rolling back on these measures.

“But we say how dare you to the Taoiseach.

"He is still wanting to mask our children, something for which there has been no safety studies carried out on the impact on the health of those young children.

“It is time to call a halt to all of these measures that are going on.

“We've been conducting this campaign for over two years and we will continue to the end of March to ensure that these emergency powers are not renewed."

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However, a recent study in Germany contradicted his claims - finding masks had an impact in fighting the transmission of the virus.

Study author Martina Sombetzki said the results showed “mandatory masking of teachers and caregivers and children at schools in the 2020 to 2021 school year each resulted in a significant reduction in the number of transmissions".

But Rachel Whelan, the co-founder of Enough is Enough told crowds gathered at the GPO that their grassroots campaign was for "medical freedom and proportionate and evidence-based response to Covid measures".

“To date our focus has been on the removal of the Covid certificates and mask mandate in schools," she said to cheers.

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One of the marchers at the protest today

One of the marchers at the protest today

One of the marchers at the protest today

“Yesterday's news to lift some of the restrictions and the Covid discrimination certificates has provided some much-needed relief to a hugely discriminated cohort of people in this country.

“However, it is far from over and we are now calling for the immediate lifting of those remaining restrictions including the wearing of masks in schools.”

One marcher, who did want to give her name, said she had travelled from Cork, for “my kids, for their freedom".

"I want people to have a choice, to be free not to wear a mask. My daughter is allergic to the mask but there is no exception in her school. Both my kids are in secondary school and they have to wear the mask all day, even though my daughter is allergic to it,” she said.

Almost all public health restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland have been lifted, following the latest advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Social distancing measures have been scrapped, but masks are still required in certain settings as of 6am this morning.

Limits on household gatherings, crowds at indoor and outdoor events have come to an end, while restrictions on the hospitality industry have also been lifted.

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Protesters pictured before the march set off for the GPO

Protesters pictured before the march set off for the GPO

Protesters pictured before the march set off for the GPO

This means bars, restaurants and other venues can stay open after 8pm and nightclubs can also reopen.

The digital Covid pass is no longer needed for entry into hospitality settings, but the wearing of face masks is still required in certain settings, such as public transport, in retail services, and cinemas and theatres.

People will continue to be required to isolate if they are symptomatic for Covid-19.

In a social media post, HSE chief Paul Reid said it had been a tough two years, adding "especially having lost so many loved ones".

"But for now, it's time to let optimism, hope and positive plans become dominant once again in society and in all of our lives," he said.

However, Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned that the pandemic is not over, and that vaccination programmes must be embedded into the public health system, to be switched on when needed.

"I have stood here on many dark days but today is a good day," he said in a televised address last night. evening.

Mr Martin described trust as a fragile thing for the public. "People know that Government will not impose restrictions on personal freedoms for any longer than is necessary."

Ireland has weathered the Omicron storm, he added.

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