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Shutting nup 'No comment' from family at the centre of Covid rule-breaking wedding controversy as they face court

Our exclusive images show how all thoughts of social distancing and masks went out the window inside the controversial wedding marquee.

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Bride Shelby Kelly and groom Willie Stokes inside the wedding marquee

Bride Shelby Kelly and groom Willie Stokes inside the wedding marquee

Bride Shelby Kelly and groom Willie Stokes inside the wedding marquee

The family at the centre of a Covid rule-breaking wedding had "no comment" to make when asked why a court order was ignored this week.

The mother of the groom told the Sunday World they are getting legal advice.

Willie Stokes' mum said the family will make a statement on the massive wedding bash in a marquee in Longford town, which went ahead despite Covid 19 restrictions, after they get legal advice.

At the family home, beside the football pitch where the marquee had been erected for Wednesday night's celebrations, Caroline Stokes politely declined to explain why a court order was ignored.

"We don't want to give any comment because we are talking to the legal representation. Until we get legal word, we're not going to give any comment."

"We will be making a statement in the near future, but not now."

These exclusive images show how all thoughts of social distancing and masks went out the window inside the controversial wedding marquee.

Our pictures show blushing bride Shelby Kelly enjoying her first dance with groom Willie Stokes as they kicked off their wedding reception in Longford on Wednesday - despite the court order requiring the temporary venue be dismantled.

Recording

In the background, onlookers stand to the side recording the dance.

Judge Keenan Johnson ordered members of the families involved and people who supplied services to appear in court tomorrow after his order earlier in the week to have the marquee taken down was ignored.

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Guests ignored social distancing and mask-wearing rules as the bride and groom shared their first dance

Guests ignored social distancing and mask-wearing rules as the bride and groom shared their first dance

Guests ignored social distancing and mask-wearing rules as the bride and groom shared their first dance.

Guests ignored social distancing and mask-wearing rules as the bride and groom shared their first dance.

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Guests ignored social distancing and mask-wearing rules as the bride and groom shared their first dance

He made the order to dismantle the marquee after a court application by Longford County Council just hours before the party was due to take place.

A furious council chairman, Cllr Paul Ross, said the flagrant breach of coronavirus regulations forced them to take action.

"This site is just one kilometre from the centre of town on the main Strokestown road, which everyone could see. It was just two fingers to the rest of the law-abiding society in Longford," he said.

"That's why we took such a hard stance on this."

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He explained after the marquee had been set up ahead of Wednesday's wedding, they had the option of "do nothing" or a get a court order.

The earliest opportunity to get into court was in Sligo on Wednesday morning, where a council officer made the application to get a court order to have the marquee taken down, according to Cllr Ross.

"I felt that we couldn't stand idly by and do nothing. Once that decision was made, the council kicked in, went in and got the injunction."

However, the council couldn't get the court documents to the site before the celebrations began.

"We didn't physically get the injunction back to Longford until about 2 o'clock.

"At this point the delay in getting the injunction kicked in. By the time we were ready to go down and remove the tent, the tent was occupied."

Ceremony

Over a hundred people attended the party in the marquee after the wedding ceremony at St Mel's Cathedral, according to reports.

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The marquee in Longford town

The marquee in Longford town

The marquee in Longford town

Cllr Ross said there are genuine fears that the event could cause a spike in coronavirus cases in the area.

"We have consistently been on top of the list for Covid numbers per head of population for the last three or four months," he said.

"Longford has been consistently higher than a lot of other counties for a variety of different reasons.

"We want to pursue those who broke the injunction.

"The families involved went ahead and did this against all public health advice. The guards engaged with those involved to try and prevent this and it didn't work."

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Gardai at the scene

Gardai at the scene

Gardai at the scene

He said that the failure to stop the gathering despite the legal efforts had been "a real blow".

"We've all heard stories about people who missed their own children's weddings, postponed them, haven't had Christenings or Confirmations. People have lived as hermits for the past 14 months and then for this to happen."

At an emergency court sitting on Thursday, Judge Johnson asked for an explanation as to why his court order had not been followed and the marquee taken down.

Judge Johnson said he wanted to hear from the people involved why the event had gone ahead just hours after an emergency circuit court injunction.

"The dogs on the street knew that this was a complete breach of all public health regulations," he said.

"It's outrageous, absolutely scandalous. Not alone have they defied the public health regulations, they have flagrantly defied a specific court order."

Superintendent Jim Delaney said gardaí spoke with members of the bridal party, the owner of the marquee and caterers involved in the event's organisation.

Supt Delaney also said the firm engaged by the council to dismantle the marquee were "poorly equipped", adding that by the time they arrived the celebrations were already underway.

Remove

He insisted "no request" had been made to remove anyone from inside the marquee.

The owner of the marquee, Alan Horohoe, told Independent.ie this week he put the marquee up on Monday morning and was first contacted by gardaí on Tuesday evening.

"I told them I would take it down if the families agreed but they didn't - they would not change their minds," he said.

"If I took it down, I would have owed them a four-figure sum that I simply don't have."

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