Concern grows over anti-Covid 'peaceful assembly' event in Letterkenny

Gardai urge people to comply with public health guidelines and regulations

Concern grows over anti-Covid 'peaceful assembly' event in Letterkenny

Peaceful assembly event due to take place today Saturday at 2pm in Letterkenny

Concern is growing at the prospect of an event taking place in Letterkenny this afternoon.

The organisers, the Time for Truth Donegal-Derry group say this gathering at 2pm at the Market Square is what they describe as "a peaceful assembly" and is protected under the Irish Constitution.

It is understood the members of this group are opposed to what they describe as the restrictions imposed under the current Covid-19 regulations.

Given Donegal has just moved to a Level 3 status and the fact the 14-day incidence of the disease shot up again yesterday, people are worried that this gathering will not help matters.

It has also sparked an angry war of words involving both sides on social media platforms over the past few days.

Level 3 social and economic restrictions will impact throughout the hospitality and tourism sectors and beyond. and people are being asked not to travel outside the county.

There will be no visiting relatives in nursing homes, an increased emphasis on working from home, no spectators at sporting events, further restrictions on who can visit your home, and much more. Level 3 will hurt and it will last for weeks.

In a post on its social media page the group claims that in the Covid Health Act Regulation S.I. No. 326 of 2020, it clearly states that restrictions only apply to a "relevant event" which is classified as social, recreational, exercise, cultural, entertainment or for community reasons.

"This gathering is not an event. Peaceful Assembly is our God given right to assemble unrestricted. Article 40.6.1. The Irish Constitution clearly states "it is the right  of the citizens to come on assembly peacefully unarmed."

In a statement from the Garda Press Office in relation to the proposed gathering, they say they are aware of the event happening.

"Gardaí are aware of a protest planned to take place in Letterkenny. An Garda Síochána has no role in permitting or authorising protest marches or gatherings, there is no permit/authorisation required for such events.

"The Government on the advice on NPHET announced increased public health measures that are being applied to stop the spread of Covid-19 in Co Donegal commencing at midnight on Friday, September 25.

"The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No.5) Regulations 2020, as amended are currently in force, and place penal restrictions on persons organising certain events.

"Individual attendance, social distancing, wearing of masks in public area and other such guidelines are not penal regulations.

"In supporting the Covid-19 public health guidelines and regulations, An Garda Síochána has and will continue to adopt, a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent.

"This has seen garda members engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce. Where potential breaches of the Public Health Regulations are identified a file is submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a direction as to how to proceed."

The statement adds as the Covid-19 pandemic remains a public health crisis, An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to comply with public health guidelines and regulations in order to continue to save lives.

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