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'It felt like All Ireland final night': Images of packed crowds in Dublin city last night prompt criticism

Former health minister Simon Harris was critical of the crowds gathering in the city, saying “we’ve come too far to go back”.

Dr Maitiu O Tuathail was critical of the crowds he saw congregating yesterday.
Dr Maitiu O Tuathail was critical of the crowds he saw congregating yesterday.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

THE SCENES DRIVING through Dublin city centre last night felt like “All Ireland final” day, a GP has said. 

Images of people congregating in outside settings in the capital last night have drawn criticism amid fears that a lack of adherence to social distancing and other guidelines could lead to a resurgence of Covid-19 in the community. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Brendan O’Connor show this morning, Dr Maitiu O Tuathail described the city as “completely rammed” with people socialising and said there was a “festival atmosphere”.

“It was profoundly upsetting to be honest,” Ó Tuathail said. 

His sentiments were echoed by former health minister Simon Harris this morning, who tweeted: “C’mon everyone. We’ve come too far to go back.”

Last Monday, Ireland entered Phase Three of re-opening the country after the Covid-19 restrictions introduced in March. 

The latest phase has permitted restaurants and pubs – that serve food – to re-open. All those re-opening have to adhere to the public health guidance but there are fears that re-opening could bring about a rise in cases of Covid-19.

Dr Ó Tuathail said that to see people not adhering to the guidelines after the events of the last few months was a “slap in the face to those who’ve broken their backs to keep the country working”. 

He highlighted the “new phenomonen” of take-away pints, with people filling the streets and having a few drinks. 

He said that colleagues in the health service had been “psychologically traumatised” by what they’ve had to deal with during the crisis, and don’t want to see a resurgence in cases again. 

“After last night, I really think we’re weeks away from a second wave,” he said. 

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Minister Simon Harris added: “Great to see our economy re-opened and social life resuming but let’s keep using our cop on and common sense. We owe it to each other, to those families who have lost loved ones, to the local business we want to keep open and to our kids.”

The Licenced Vintners Association was also critical of the images shared of street drinking in Dublin yesterday.

It said in a statement this afternoon: “This is in no way acceptable and completely jeopardises public health, given the lack of social distancing observed.  

Unfortunately scenes like this have been taking place over the last few weekends in Dublin city centre. We are reminding pubs who are serving takeout of their responsibilities. Legal advice issued by the Gardaí in May said that any drinks purchased as takeaways must be consumed more than 100 metres from the pub which sold the alcohol.

Many of the images shared were of Dame Court in the city, which has several nearby pubs including the Stags Head. In a statement, the Stags Head pub said it wanted to reaffirm it has been closed since 15 March. 

“We look forward to welcoming all our loyal customers when we return on 20 July. We will be following all social distancing protocol for the safety of our staff and patrons,” it said. 

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Sean Murray

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