THERE were no arrests made at Béal na Bláth last weekend when up to 100 people attended a gathering at the monument, because the new ‘guidelines’ are not legally enforceable.
This week The Southern Star queried the lack of garda action after up to 50 people attended one, and up to 100 a second, as two large crowds gathered at the historic monument, despite complaints from members of the public.
An official statement from the garda press office in the Phoenix Park on Wednesday stated that ‘... regulations place restrictions on persons organising events to a maximum attendance of 50 indoors and 200 outdoors.’
The reply was in response to queries about two groups that ‘hijacked’ what would have normally been the annual Michael Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth.
The Michael Collins Commemoration Committee earlier opted to cancel this year’s event to comply with Covid-19 guidelines on outdoor gatherings and social distancing.
However, two groups blatantly flouted the guidelines, which were updated last week to limit those gathering outside to 15.
On Saturday – the anniversary of Collins’ death – up to 50 people attended a commemoration organised by The National Party. Party leader Justin Barrett said that ‘in line with shambolic lockdown restrictions’, the party saw this as a good occasion to have their own commemoration.
The following afternoon, up to 100 people attended another commemoration organised by Síol na hÉireann (Seed of Ireland), led by Donegal man Niall McConnell. As well as addressing attendees – many of whom wore white shirts and green ties – a marching procession, complete with numerous tri-colours took place along the road by the monument before returning back. The group had their own camera operators filming the event, including a drone filming their marching procession.
Gardaí were in attendance to monitor the traffic situation but when asked why there were no arrests, the press office stated the regulations referred to 200 being allowed outdoors.
The garda press office later called to clarify that the new maximum figure of 15 allowed outdoors was only a ‘guideline’ and not a ‘regulation’.