Two people were arrested and more than 80 fines issued over a funeral attended by hundreds of people this week, gardaí have said.
About 300 people gathered for the funeral of a young Traveller man in Carrick-on-Shannon on Thursday, despite level 5 restrictions limiting mourners to ten people.
Gardaí confirmed to Independent.ie that two people were arrested under the Public Order Act and “in excess” of 80 fines were issued for breach of public health regulations in connection with the large gathering.
"An Garda Síochána will carry out an investigation into the organisers of any event which is in breach of the public health regulations,” a Garda spokesperson said.
Yesterday, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said seeing large crowds gathering for funerals “rocks people” due to the sacrifices they have made over the past year.
Mr Reid told RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne that it was a “very difficult time” for people who are grieving but said what hurts people is seeing large crowds gathered for funerals and other events.
“It’s a very difficult time for all funerals that are grieving, and everybody acknowledges it’s not easy,” Mr Reid said. “Ultimately, what really kind of hurts people is when they see the sacrifices people have made in terms of public health measures and then you see various experiences, whether that’s funerals or other experiences, that just rocks people for the sacrifices they made.
"Funerals, in general are a risk factor and that’s why the public health restrictions have been put in place.
“We know there has been very high transmission levels of the virus at funerals in the last year across the country.
“It can be at wakes, it can be at events after the funeral, high transmission levels and high impact on the community.”
Martin Collins, co-director of Traveller organisation Pavee Point, said the scenes in Carrick-on-Shannon were not acceptable.
“It is very disappointing, it is concerning and it’s not acceptable in the middle of a global health pandemic that some people are behaving in this way,” said Mr Collins.
“Pavee Point’s message has been very consistent and very clear that all people, Travellers or settled, need to adhere to the public health guidelines. Public health and the preservation of life trumps everything else.”
He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “I understand how difficult it is for Travellers to stay away from funerals, but cultural norms and traditions will have to take a back seat at this time. People must realise at this stage that almost 4,500 people have died from Covid in Ireland and more will die if people don’t observe the public health guidelines.”
Mr Collins said that a cousin and “a very good friend” of his will be buried today in Mullingar and said he “had to make the sacrifice” and not go to the funeral due to regulations and that “all the good work will be undone” if people let their guard down.Mr Collins said the “vast majority of Travellers are observing the guidelines”, but added that there is a cohort who are not. He pointed out that the same issue applies to settled people, even in “the higher echelons of society”.
"We all remember Golfgate and Supreme Court judges and EU Commissioners, and so forth. Regardless of your ethnic origin, it’s not right to get involved in large gatherings and people must observe the guidelines,” Mr Collins said.