Taoiseach Micheal Martin brands Oliver Bond street party ‘serious issue’ as gardai to investigate event organisers
- 21 Sep 2020, 15:30
- Updated: 21 Sep 2020, 15:31
TAOISEACH Micheal Martin has branded a street party that took place in Dublin on Saturday as a “serious issue” amid the coronavirus crisis.
Shocking footage of the incident at the Oliver Bond flats in Dublin showed up to 100 people partying on an astro sport pitch in the complex with no physical distancing.
The event took place on the first day new Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in the capital came into place – with a DJ playing songs in a marquee as people danced and boozed in the pitch.
Fianna Fail leader Martin said that it is “very difficult” to legally punish those breaking the rules at private homes outside premises.
The Taoiseach told Newstalk: “The gardai’s approach all along operationally has been to encourage compliance, work with people, engage with people, enforcement is a last resort in many cases.
“I think the Oliver Bond situation is being investigated by the gardai in the manner of its organisation.
“There might be a range of issues there that the gardai have to attend to, above and beyond the social distancing and the breach of regulations and guidance in relation to public heath.
“That is a serious issue, a gathering of that kind, in terms of the spread of the virus.”
Martin explained that there are challenges in legally enforcing these rule breaks.
And he said there are more issues “beyond public health” at play in regards to the street party.
He added: “The challenges in terms of legally enforcing that kind of thing is very difficult in itself.
“I think in the vast majority of cases, the gardai have gone to a vast range of establishments over a number of months and in terms of restaurants and so on, have found that the vast majority adhere to guidelines and rules and that has to be said.
“But clearly in terms of Oliver Bond and other areas, it seems to me that there’s more than just one set of issues there, above and beyond public health and indeed investigation need to be had.
“It’s not up to everybody to organise big events with DJs and everything else in place.”
Gardai have confirmed that they are investigating the organisers of the event – as well as an other breaches of criminal legislation.
A spokesperson told the Irish Sun: “Gardaí responded to reports of a gathering at a residential complex on Oliver Bond Street on Saturday evening 20th September 2020.
“A number of patrols were conducted in the area over the course of the evening and by approximately 11pm Gardaí requested all persons to disperse and maintained a presence in the area.
“An Garda Siochana are carrying out an investigation to identify the organiser(s) of this event. An Garda Siochana is also investigation any other breaches of criminal legislation which may have occurred.
“The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (NO. 5) Regulations 2020 which came into effect on 19th September 2020 at regulation 15 provide that: A person shall not organise, or cause to be organised, a relevant event in a relevant county.
“Gardaí are not investigating breaches of Public Health Regulations by those in attendance. Social distancing, wearing of masks in public area and other such guidelines are non-penal regulations.
“In supporting the Covid-19 public health guidelines and regulations, An Garda Síochána has and will continue to adopt, a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent.
“This has seen Gardaí engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.
“The Covid-19 Pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to demonstrate personal and social responsibility to comply with Public Health Guidelines and Regulations in order to continue to save lives.”