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Virus tragedy Mourners asked to leave Covid victim Joe McCarron's funeral after refusing to wear facemasks

The eye-witness revealed "They were all sitting together while everyone else was sitting apart adhering to the guidelines."

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Joe McCarron in Letterkenny University Hospital.

Joe McCarron in Letterkenny University Hospital.

Joe McCarron in Letterkenny University Hospital.

A number of people were asked to leave a Co Donegal church during the funeral of a man who died from Covid because they were not wearing facemasks.

Joe McCarron, 67, died from the virus and was buried yesterday following his funeral mass at St Crona's Church in Dungloe.

However, at least five people were asked to leave the church because they were not wearing facemasks in line with Government guidelines.

At least two of the five people were members of the so-called Common Law Movement.

All five sat together in a row on the same seat despite signs asking people to stay two metres apart.

According to an eyewitness, the mourners were asked to leave by a parish assistant.

The woman initially approached the men with a box of facemasks but they declined to take the masks.

The eye-witness revealed "They were all sitting together while everyone else was sitting apart adhering to the guidelines.

"I knew two of them to see because of recent media coverage and from social media. They were definite members of that anti-vaccine protest group.

"They were offered masks as none of them were wearing any. However, they declined and left without any fuss.

"They were not outside the church when the funeral was over and I certainly didn't see them at the graveside when Joe was buried."

Gardai have confirmed they attended the church after a report was made to them of people not wearing facemasks.

A Garda spokesperson confirmed "Gardaí received report of a number of people inside a church not wearing face coverings in Dungloe Co. Donegal on the 26th September 2021.

"Gardaí attended and provided advice to those present. No offences disclosed. Enquiries ongoing.

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"The Health Act 1947 (Sections 31AB and 31AD) (COVID-19) (Operation of Certain Indoor Premises) Regulations 2021, SI 385/2021, came into operation on the 26th July 2021. Members of An Garda Síochána are not a ‘compliance officer’ in respect of these Regulations."

Mr McCarron, who is survived by his wife Una, made international headlines last week when he was encouraged to leave Letterkenny University Hospital by anti-vaccine protestors.

He left the hospital on Tuesday week last after protestors claimed he was being forced to go into the intensive care unit.

He left but was rushed back into hospital on Thursday week last suffering from serious breathing difficulties.

He passed away on Friday afternoon last.

His funeral Mass heard of the fragility of life, and of the heartache and loss suffered by his family and friends.

Father Eddie Gallagher told mourners: “This is a very sad day, and we think of the bereaved who are broken-hearted on this day.”

“The best gift, the only gift, we can give to Joe McCarron today is our prayers.”

“The person who will miss Joe most of all is his wife Una,” said Fr Gallagher. “We offer our prayers and sympathy to Una who today is widowed and broken-hearted.”

Mr McCarron, born in 1954, was a former radio DJ who was well-known in Dungloe. More recently, he was a carer to his wife of 38 years, Una.

A special welcome was given to Joe’s friends at the Mass, especially those in the AA fellowship.

“He was a very long time in the AA fraternity, and some are here today to remember Joe and honour his memory,” Fr Gallagher said.

Gardaí have also appointed a senior investigating officer to oversee an investigation into recent incidents at Letterkenny University Hospital.

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