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Gardai investigating if Dublin Black Lives Matter solidarity protest breached lockdown restrictions

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People at a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the US Embassy in Dublin following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

People at a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the US Embassy in Dublin following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

People at a Black Lives Matter protest rally outside the US Embassy in Dublin following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, US. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

GARDAI have launched an investigation into whether Black Lives Matter solidarity protests breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Around 1,000 people took part in the march in Dublin yesterday.

The protests come after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

Gardaí said that they were not consulted before the event was organised, something they encourage to "assist in the safe and peaceful organisation of the event", however there is no permit or authorisation required for such events usually.

Independent.ie understands that gardaí took the details of the event organisers while it was taking place.

Gardaí said that those identified as ‘organisers’ at the location of the demonstration "at all times pro-actively engaged with An Garda Síochána."

According to gardaí the organisers had made attempts to mark social distancing guidelines on O’Connell street for their anticipated number of participants.

Social distancing is a guideline, not a regulation.

An Garda Síochána has adopted a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent. This has seen Garda members engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce Covid-19 legislation.

According to gardaí this was maintained during the Dublin Black Lives Matter solidarity protest and, where appropriate, names and addresses have been recorded with the intention of seeking the advice of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A Garda spokesperson told Independent.ie that regulation 5(1)(a) of the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (Amendment) (No.3) Regulations 2020 places restrictions on the holding of an event.

"An Garda Síochána is investigating potential breach of these regulations," they said.

"An Garda Síochána is investigating this matter and the advices of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be sought in respect of any further actions to be taken.

"The Covid-19 Pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to comply with Public Health Guidelines and Regulations, in particular essential journeys, in order to continue to save lives."

Asked about the protests in Ireland at today's Department of Health coronavirus briefing, Dr Tony Holohan said the marches put lives at risk.

"Now is not the time to be attending events that have the potential to become a mass gathering," he said.

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