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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 4 July, 2020
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'Large gatherings are dangerous': Harris says planned anti-racism march should be cancelled

A garda investigation into Monday’s protest is underway.

People at a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the US Embassy in Dublin on Monday.
People at a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the US Embassy in Dublin on Monday.
Image: PA

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has urged the organisers of a planned anti-racism protest to cancel the demonstration. 

Harris said that he felt physically sick as he watched unarmed black man George Floyd dying on the streets of Minneapolis. 

But he said any cause, no matter how just, does not mean people can ignore mass gathering guidelines. 

He said: “It makes me feel physically sick to the pit of my stomach – I think the overwhelming majority of people in this country abhor racism. What we have seen in the US, it really concerns any right-thinking person but that doesn’t mean we can ignore mass gathering guidelines.

“The reality of the situation is that no matter your cause and how just your cause is – large gatherings are dangerous.

“I know there is an investigation going on and I don’t want to pre-empt that – I’ll let the garda investigation run its course.”

Thousands took to the streets on Monday to voice their anger at the death of George Floyd. But it emerged yesterday that gardaí are investigating alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations and that the DPP will now decide if criminal charges will be brought against those who disregarded the regulations. 

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Gardaí said that while organisers had tried to enforce social distancing guidelines, this was not adhered to. Other regulations, including travelling more than 5km from a place of residence, may also have been breached, gardaí said. 

A statement released to TheJournal.ie said that the organisers of the event had pro-actively engaged with gardaí during the demonstration and informed officers that the size of the event had far exceeded their expectations. 

More protests in Cork, Dublin and Galway were scheduled to go ahead over the course of this coming weekend. It is now not known if they will go ahead. 

With reporting by Christina Finn

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