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Mourners asked to leave Covid patient Joe McCarron's funeral for not wearing facemasks

Joe McCarron passed away at Letterkenny University Hospital last week.

Image: Shutterstock/alan payne

Updated Sep 27th 2021, 6:39 PM

SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE were asked to leave a Donegal church during the funeral of a man who died from Covid-19 because they were not wearing facemasks.

Joe McCarron, 67, died from the virus and was buried yesterday following his funeral mass at St Crona’s Church in Dungloe.

However, at least five people were asked to leave the church because they were not wearing facemasks in line with Government guidelines.

At least two of the five people were members of the so-called Common Law Movement.

All five sat together in a row on the same seat despite signs asking people to stay two metres apart.

According to an eyewitness, the mourners were asked to leave by a parish assistant.

The woman initially approached the men with a box of facemasks but they declined to take the masks.

The eye-witness said: “They were all sitting together while everyone else was sitting apart adhering to the guidelines.

“I knew two of them to see because of recent media coverage and from social media. They were definite members of that anti-vaccine protest group.

“They were offered masks as none of them were wearing any. However, they declined and left without any fuss.

“They were not outside the church when the funeral was over and I certainly didn’t see them at the graveside when Joe was buried.”

Mr McCarron, who is survived by his wife Una, was encouraged to leave Letterkenny University Hospital by anti-vaccine protestors earlier this month.

Days after leaving, he was rushed back to the hospital suffering with serious breathing difficulties.

He passed away on Friday afternoon.

Gardaí confirmed they attended the church after a report was made to them of people not wearing facemasks.

A Garda spokesperson said: “Gardaí received report of a number of people inside a church not wearing face coverings in Dungloe Co. Donegal on the 26th September 2021.

“Gardaí attended and provided advice to those present. No offences disclosed. Enquiries ongoing.

“The Health Act 1947 (Sections 31AB and 31AD) (COVID-19) (Operation of Certain Indoor Premises) Regulations 2021, SI 385/2021, came into operation on the 26th July 2021.

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“Members of An Garda Síochána are not a ‘compliance officer’ in respect of these Regulations.”

Investigation

Earlier today, it emerged that gardaí are investigating the circumstances around Joe McCarron leaving hospital.

A senior investigating officer is now overseeing the investigation to establish whether any criminal offence was committed by those involved.

In an earlier statement, a Garda spokesman said: “An Garda Síochána continues to investigate a number of recent incidents which occurred at Letterkenny University Hospital.

“A senior investigating officer is appointed to oversee the investigation.

“An Garda Síochána has no further comment at this time.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has described the incident as “very concerning”.

With reporting by PA.

About the author:

Stephen Maguire

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