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Protest appeal Cork Lord Mayor pleads for people not to attend anti-lockdown rally

Describing the chaos that broke out in the St Stephens Green area last weekend as “horrendous”, Cllr Kavanagh said there were no guarantees that the same would not happen in his city tomorrow.

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Protestors confront Gardai during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre.

Protestors confront Gardai during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre.

Protestors confront Gardai during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre.

The Lord Mayor of Cork has asked his fellow Corkonians not to attend a planned anti-lockdown protest due to take place in the city tomorrow afternoon.

Cllr Joe Kavanagh has also pleaded with the organisers to call off the event as fears rise that similar scenes witnessed in Dublin last weekend when violence broke out during a demonstration could be visited upon his city.

Describing the chaos that broke out in the St Stephens Green in Dublin area last weekend as “horrendous”, Cllr Kavanagh said there were no guarantees that the same would not happen in his city tomorrow.

“I was only just listening to one of the organisers on the radio there a while ago talking about how this would be a family friendly event and all this kind of rubbish,” Cllr Kavanagh said.

"From my perspective, I think that holding this type gathering in complete and utter contravention to public health guidelines is so irresponsible.

“I'm not a medical expert, I am the Lord Mayor of Cork, so my expertise doesn’t lie within that perimeter. But there are people out there who we lean very heavily on, like the chief medical officer and his team, (for advice).

“And the government takes the advice from these experts and they pass that advice down.

“I can understand the frustration of people being locked down for virtually a year at this stage and some businesses will never reopen again,” he added. “People have lost loved ones and people feel restricted in their movements and in their ability to do things and go about what they've been used to as a normal way of life over the years.

“This protest obviously is partly to express that, and I understand that, but there's always the risk that a fringe element could get involved in the protest and in fairness it could get nasty.”

The Lord Mayor said another reason for the rally not to go ahead, “and the most important part from my perspective, is it flies in the face of the guidelines as laid down by the medical experts that we should not be gathering in large numbers in any way, shape or form.

“I mean we have worked so hard as a county and in Cork this morning we had the some of the best numbers in the country in terms of new cases. We have all worked very hard and really this could set us back weeks, and possibly months.

“I’m proud of the effort that so many people have made, so many personal sacrifices to get us where we are today.

“But I would say to people, do not go in and put yourself into a large gathering of any description until it is deemed safe to do so by the people who know what they're talking about, the medical experts.

"I would also ask the organisers to cancel this event, I would plead with them to (stop it from going ahead) immediately. "

However, Cllr Kavanagh said he had every confidence in the gardai if trouble does occur.

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Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh

“Cork City has always been a safe place to go,” he stressed. “We are lucky with the gardai we have here in the city. They have control of public order in the city and always have done.

"I've every confidence in them to maintain order. If people do try to start trouble it will be quickly dealt with. Our Gardai will certainly resolve any issues that have the potential to get out of line.”

A spokesperson for the anti-lockdown protest, Diarmuid Ó Cadhla, Secretary of The People’s Convention said that they have people “who are experienced in organising public assembly and we will be vigilant”.

“This is a peaceful, family-friendly event on Saturday in Cork at 2pm,” Mr Ó Cadhla told Newstalk Breakfast.

Gardai are expected to launch a major security operation amid fears hundreds could attend the anti-lockdown rally despite pleas for the event to be cancelled.

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