A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) after gardaí attended the scene of a large gathering held in breach of public health rules following a funeral in Co Wexford on Monday.
A spokeswoman for the Garda said a policing plan was put in place for the funeral, which took place in Gorey. Current health restrictions stipulate that a maximum of 10 people can attend a funeral, while house gatherings are banned.
“Gardaí engaged with a number of individuals who then complied with public health regulations,” said the spokeswoman. “An Garda Síochána will continue to investigate any other breaches of regulations in particular travel restrictions.”
Later that evening, gardaí were informed of a “large gathering of persons” at a property in Enniscorthy.
“Gardaí attended the incident and a number of persons were identified to be in breach of the Health Act,” said the spokeswoman. “A file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
The funeral was for a member of the Traveller community. Pavee Point spokesman Martin Collins said he was “lost for words” in relation to people breaking public health rules.
“People should not be getting involved in large gatherings. It is in breach of public health guidelines,” he said. “I would encourage Travellers – difficult as it is because we all know funerals are culturally significant in our community – to follow the rules.
“This is about saving lives and people need to put their shoulder to the wheel, and that includes my own. It is not acceptable. People are playing Russian roulette with their own lives and the lives of their families.
“Travellers need to heed the guidelines and comply. I’m lost for words to be quite honest with you because it is not fair on other people who are making sacrifices and putting their shoulder to the wheel.”
The Garda spokeswoman said the force has adopted “a graduated policing response” based on policing by consent. “This has seen gardaí engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce,” she said.
“Personal social responsibility, wearing of face coverings in open spaces and social distancing are public health guidelines and are not penal regulations.
“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 particular essential journeys, in order to continue to save lives.”
Enniscorthy had the second highest incidence rate of Covid-19 in the two weeks up to January 18th with 3,291 cases per 100,000 people. There were 897 cases over the two-week period.
Separately, Liz Canavan, Assistant Secretary General at the Department of the Taoiseach, speaking on Wednesday morning, raised concern about attendances at funerals and said people should offer condolences over social media or by card.
The current restrictions allow just 10 mourners to attend and she said priority must be given to family members at churches, funeral homes and graveyards.
“In this third wave we now sadly see a significant increase in the numbers of funerals.
“Concerns are being raised regarding the dangers of dropping our guard at funerals when we are at this critical time.
“Reports of significant numbers of people congregating in homes of bereaved persons and in funeral homes, or at churches and graveyards before or after services, are concerning,” she said.
Ms Canavan said: “Those wishing to express their condolence should do so through social media, online websites, text or card.”