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28 May 2022

Donegal anti mask protests

Buncrana parents protest against national school mask mandate

The introduction of mask wearing for national school children of Third Class age and above has sparked protests throughout Inishowen.

Parents gathered outside Scoil Naomh Bríd in Muff on Friday morning and more than 250 people gathered in Buncrana's Market Square at lunchtime, to protest against the mask mandate.

From Wednesday past, students in Third Class and upwards were required to wear masks while in school. Exemptions were available if a child obtained a medical certificate from a GP. 

Under the latest Government advice, children aged nine and older are also required to wear masks on public transport, in shops and in other indoor public settings.

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Speaking to Donegal Live , one Buncrana parent said she was attending the protest because she did not agree with putting masks on children.

The mother added: "I don't agree with putting masks on children. I think everybody, fundamentally, knows that it is wrong. It should not be done. If you have to give a pupil a breathing break, what does that tell you? That they can't breath when it is on.

"I also think that it hinders their psychological well-being. I think it causes them anxiety wearing it. I think they are irritable, they are distracted and I think psychologically, in the long-term, it will have an effect. 

"I will not be sending my children to school with a mask. The school is very good and they are not going to forcibly going to put a mask on my child. In addition, under the Constitution, children have a right to an education, a school cannot deny a child an education. 

"I think, what's not being talked about is the children who have special needs and who have exemptions. They again now are going to be singled out, isolated and [the attitude of] 'If you are not wearing a mask, there is something wrong with you. What's the reason? Why are you not wearing it? [may appear]. Again, we are making a difference with those children. I think also for children who have auditory issues, it is going to impeded their understanding of the spoken language. They rely so much on lip movement and facial expression to understand what is being said. I don't think people are talking about those kind of children either," said the parent, who added she she respected the right of all parents to have a choice.

"If people want to wear a mask, that's fine, put it on your child, but give other parents the space and the choice regarding what they want to do."

Full picture spread in Wednesday's Inish Times.

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