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sunny day Anti-lockdown event ends up being more of a picnic than a riot

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Signs at Herbert Park

Signs at Herbert Park

Signs at Herbert Park

An anti-lock down gathering in Dublin’s Herbert Park has passed off peacefully this afternoon with hundreds enjoying the sunshine - along with a dose of political sloganeering.

There was no repeat of the scenes of chaos that descended on Grafton Street weeks before, with one Garda saying, ‘no, we’ve had none of that here today."

Instead, families gathered around the bandstand in the park, listening to a singer entertain them, while dozens more congregated on the grassy areas.

Billed as Le Cheile Day - “a mental health day” – there was little for the discreet Garda presence to do except monitor proceedings.

Many of those who arrived said they were there for “health reasons”, to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as opposed to making a political point.

However, very few people in the crowd wore masks and there was little social distancing among those at the bandstand area.

The people relaxing elsewhere in the park on picnic blankets did keep a couple of metres away from each other.

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Back at the bandstand there were a few people who had placards with them, with slogans including ‘Covid death jab will wipe us out…resist’ and ‘True agenda…depopulation and Chinese takeover’.

Another man was holding a sign that said: ‘God and St Patrick Save Ireland from our wicked Government’.

He also did not to want to give his name but said: “I was in the St Patrick's Day procession in the city centre and I wanted to come here. There is no need for any lockdowns.”

One man who said he was Stephen Manning, the administrator of the ‘Integrity Ireland Association’ was trying to hand out information leaflets to gardai who politely passed them up.

Asked if he was an anti-masker, he said, “I’m a pro-truther.”

Two sisters, who refused to give their names, said they had come from Drogheda to attend the event.

Asked why they had come to Dublin one said: “I want my freedom, and my body integrity. I have a right to travel and I have freedom to travel,” she said.

“I don't agree with the lockdowns.

"I’m a believer that it's 99 per cent Covid recovery and I don't agree with a lockdown that keeps healthy people isolated from everyone else.

"It's nothing to do with health,” she added. “It’s political. But we’re not here to make a political point, we’re just ordinary people.”

Among the approximately 200 people gathered on the grass and around the grandstand were children blowing bubbles and dancing.

Elsewhere in Dublin there appeared to be few flashpoints although crowds of protesters carrying placards and waving tricolours were seen walking past Donnybrook, after a protest at the RTÉ campus in Donnybrook.

They appeared to be heading towards the city centre but back at St Stephen’s Green, the scene of violence just weeks ago, there was a massive Garda presence.

However, people were allowed to access the green itself and where hundreds were out enjoying the balmy conditions.

Along an eerily quiet South William Street and other roads off Grafton Street there were no signs of the take-aways pints or can-drinking that had been expected.

Gardai on patrol said most people were compliant but that as it was still early in the afternoon, the drinking had not yet begun.

Outside the city centre and along the Grand Canal, hundreds more people had gathered to drink and hang out along the banks.

It was packed at the closed Barge pub with mainly young people out drinking in the sunshine and there appeared to be little social distance being maintained.

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