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Street violence Taoiseach warns behaviour of tiny minority won’t jeopardise Ireland’s emergence from lockdown

Mr Martin paid glowing tribute to the Gardai for the skilled manner in which they handled the challenging scenes


Taoiseach Micheal Martin warned that the anti-social activities of a tiny minority will not be allowed jeopardise Ireland's successful emergence from the six month Covid-19 lockdown.

Mr Martin paid glowing tribute to the Gardai for the skilled manner in which they handled the challenging scenes of street violence in Dublin and the large numbers of people who congregated in other Irish cities over recent weekends.

Separately, he warned that while "a blended approach" may be adopted for the return of Irish workers to offices, he said the Government would take step-by-step approach to the easing of lockdown and would not commit at this stage to an earlier than planned August reopening of offices.

The Taoiseach visited the Penrose Dock complex in Cork where 60 new jobs were announced - and the sprawling complex will over coming weeks have a further 500 employees to a total of 1,600.

Some 90pc of the office space in the vast 250,000 sq ft complex is now let.

Mr Martin urged those engaged in the recent anti-social behaviour in Dublin to think of the greater good.

"We were very concerned about that (Dublin violence)," he said.

"The vast, vast majority of people behave. I believe that Covid-19 has created new realities as well."

"It has made it very, very difficult for people."

He acknowledged the concerns of Dublin residents and traders who have endured so much during the Covid-19 lockdown.

"I want to pay tribute to An Garda Siochana. I think they have worked extremely hard during Covid-19 - it has not been easy for the Gardai because they have been asked to do things that they would not normally be asked to do."

"It has been a strange kind of period for them in terms of the restrictions they have had to enforce."

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"I want to pay tribute to the manner in which they have gone about their work."

The Taoiseach directly appealed to those involved in street confrontations to immediately stop.

"I think we would say to the very, very small minority - do not engage in the activity you have been engaged in."

"The vast majority of people - from the scenes we saw yesterday - just want to go out, sit down, have a meal and enjoy themselves."

"That is the vast majority of Irish people. But I think things will settle down and level out over time."

Mr Martin said Irish councils have worked hard to adapt Irish cities and towns to a good, outdoor environment for safe socialising.

"In terms of the vaccine, the vaccine is very effective - I was talking to (HSE boss) Paul Reid yesterday and in terms of hospitalisation and intensive care unit numbers, they are still well down and going down."

"The impact is good and positive so we will keep with this. We are making progress - and I think by the end of this month we will see a really significant amount of people vaccinated with the first and second dose."

"We have just got to take it step by step as we have been doing. Every month we have made progress."

"Sport Minister Jack Chambers was talking about the trials for sports events and, again, that is about seeing what is possible."

"Hopefully, (we can then) expand spectator sports for July."

"I think if the trial events go well we can look forward to perhaps accelerating spectators at various games and codes. That is very, very important because that would make a great summer this year."
But Mr Martin warned that the Government will have to wait and see about sanctioning a full-scale return to offices of workers.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has backed a return of workers to Irish offices from August - one month earlier than initially planned.

"I think we will see towards the end of this month with the progress we have made whether we can move forward in some areas like that," Mr Martin said.

"I think predominantly it will be an outdoor summer (in Ireland). But we have to gear up for the autumn period. One of our key targets for the autumn is the return of the college experience for students - I know (Minister) Simon Harris is working on that."

"We want to offer a normal campus-like experience for young students in further education."
"In the world of work, a lot of young people have not yet been in their offices after being recruited last year."

"We want them to get the office experience as fast as they can."

"We are going to take this step by step. I can understand for a lot of young people who have been recruited (last year), that a blended experience (remote and office working) would be worthwhile."

"We will take advice on this and take it step by step. As you have seen all along the way, we were able to do things in June that we didn't signal that we would be able to do one month earlier."

"We were actually able to do more than we signalled. Likewise I think this month we might be able to do more than we signalled for August."

"All sectors have protocols and work on safety approaches for the workplace, both indoors and outdoors. We will have a lot more people vaccinated by August - again the vaccine dividend is involved."

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