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Cathal Crowe

Clare TD says he wasn't talking about Skerries video when he called a TikTok clip 'almost treasonous'

“I was speaking more generally,” Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe told TheJournal.ie.

FIANNA FÁIL TD Cathal Crowe has called a TikTok video “almost treasonous” and “only a step or two away from being culpable for manslaughter” – but has denied he’s speaking about a specific video that has been circulating on Irish social media in recent days.

In the past few days, a TikTok video has been circulating on social media and WhatsApp showing young Irish people guessing which one of them will contract Covid-19 next.

Speaking in the Dáil today during the introduction of a bill on giving Gardaí new powers to enforce pubs to close when necessary, Crowe said:

In the past 48 hours I saw a video on TikTok of a group of teenagers who held a Covid party and were having bets as to who would be the first to contract the virus. 
I think that’s absolutely reprehensible, I think it’s almost treasonous to the State at its time of need that people would be engaged like that. 
And at a time when those who contract Covid – there’s a fatality rate at the moment in this country of 6.2% of those who contract Covid – I think their actions in trying to draw the Covid virus onto themselves and pass it onto others, I think it’s only a step or two away from being culpable for manslaughter.

The town of Skerries has found itself the focus of media attention in recent days after a TikTok video claiming to be from locals went viral, while at least one Covid-19 case in the town was confirmed. 

Reaction to the video has prompted HSE CEO Paul Reid to tweet that “social media can be so cruel to young people sometimes” and to “think mental health”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Crowe said he wasn’t talking specifically about a video related to Skerries when he told the Dáil that the actions of “a group of teenagers” were “almost treason”, or “a step or two away from being culpable for manslaughter”.

“I wasn’t speaking specifically on Skerries, I was speaking more generally,” the Clare TD said.

“There’s now a phenomenon where teenagers they put a pot of money in and whoever gets Covid first wins the pot of money, so I was speaking in general terms.”

I think everyone – young and old, but particularly those adolescents who are old enough to know the grave risks that Covid presents – I don’t think in any joking way or in their actions they should be doing anything that makes light of Covid, or makes it more possible for the virus to spread.

Crowe said he used the word “treasonous” because to him, it is a betrayal when someone flouts the public health guidelines.

He said he has family who work on the frontline who were upset at scenes in Clifden and Killarney, incidents which Crowe described as “an insult to frontline healthcare staff, to many families who still have someone close to them in hospital, and the many families who buried someone”.

When asked whether he had seen the Skerries TikTok video, Crowe said: “I’ve seen a number of videos now over the last 48 hours. One or two are definitely American, I have seen an Irish video, I don’t know where it’s from, I’ve seen one or two of those as well.”

Asked whether he had seen a TikTok video of young people speculating which one of them would next get the virus, Crowe said: “I’ve seen that, but I’m definitely not referring to Skerries specifically, nor am I referring to any individual.”

When asked if the Skerries video was one of the videos he was referring to when talking in the Dáil today, Crowe said:

“I’ve seen many videos in the last 48 hours, I’m not going to talk about specific ones… Because it shouldn’t be about singling out a community. The point I made was rather general, and I stand over the rather general point.”

When asked about HSE CEO Paul Reid’s tweet, Crowe said:

“Look, I was a school teacher up until February, and mental health of people of all ages is a concern of mine. And I think public health is [broken down into] physical health – which were in a huge battle to protect our country’s physical health – but there’s also the mental health and that matters to me too.”

The Skerries TikTok video

The TikTok video went viral and was shared widely on WhatsApp with the following message:

 Group of girls from Skerries had a Covid party to see how many people they could infect.
Apparently the parents are mortified as most of them works in blue bar and the sailing club.. they found out they were positive today and they’ve been working all week in the restaurants..now they have to contact all the customers.. Apparently its gonna make the news.

The TikTok video is made up of different clips from each person, not of them all in a room together, and it’s understood that the video was intended as a private joke from young people who are possibly self-isolating.

There is no evidence that the participants in the video in question attended a ‘Covid party’, nor has such a party been part of the discussion around this video.

None of the young people in the video have commented publicly. 

Meanwhile on Monday, the Skerries Harps GAA club, announced that it would cease activities following “a number of potential close contacts to a confirmed Covid case in the town”.

Another club, Skerries Town Football Club, told The Independent that while there had been no confirmed case linked to the club, they had decided to close the club as a precaution.

Although the Blue Bar did confirm that a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19, it also confirmed that the information relating to them in the message above is false:

“We would also like to distance ourselves from false reports in circulation, which contain a number of fake and malicious claims about Blue Bar. None of the people concerned have ever worked in Blue Bar.”

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