Important not to 'overreact' to large crowds drinking in city centres - Varadkar


Michael Staines
Michael Staines

17.41 31 May 2021


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It is important not to overreact to the images of large crowds drinking on city streets last weekend, according to the Tánaiste.

Leo Varadkar was speaking after large numbers of people gathered in Dublin City Centre to enjoy the good weather on Saturday evening.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said he was “absolutely shocked” at the scenes in the South William Street, which he labelled a “major open-air party.”

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Meanwhile, Dublin City Council has said it will be engaging with city stakeholders this week to decide whether “extra measures” are needed to prevent large crowds of people drinking on the streets.

Gardaí move people on from Fade street in Dublin Gardaí move people on from Fade street in Dublin, 30-05-2021. Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, the Tánaiste said the vast majority of people are continuing to follow the guidelines.

“Certainly, what I saw around town yesterday – around Herbert Park, around Donnybrook around a lot of town – was people gathering in the outdoors responsibly, sitting in relatively small groups,” he said.

“It is important … I think there is a risk always, when a video goes up on Twitter of a certain number of people misbehaving in a certain number of places, there can be a bit of overreaction to it.

“The vast majority of people – 90% of people 90% of the time – are following the guidelines. They are meeting up in back gardens in groups of no more than three households and, if they are meeting up in parks, they are keeping the numbers pretty small.”

Gardaí enforcing coronavirus restrictions and moving people on from South William Street Gardaí enforcing coronavirus restrictions and moving people on from South William Street, 31-05-2021. Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

He said outdoor service and pubs and restaurants will not be brought forward to Friday to prevent a repeat over the weekend.

“The decision is Monday [7th May] and that is what is going to happen,” he said.

“That is the Cabinet decision on that. We did toy with that possibility but we are not going to change it now.

“It does appear that the weather is not going to be so nice this weekend unfortunately but that is probably a good thing in terms of people congregating outside.”

Minister Varadkar said Ireland needs more public toilets and bins in public spaces – and voiced hope that pubs, restaurants and shops will soon be allowing people to use their toilets once again.

“I would say this though; I didn’t like to see the scenes we saw in South William Street the other day or some of the problems they have seen in Cork or places like Portobello Plaza but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we are actually encouraging people to meet outdoors,” he said.

“Outdoors is much safer than indoors.”

On Newstalk Breakfast earlier, the HSE Chief Clinical Officer said the scenes “looked like V-day” and warned that COVID-19 "doesn't surrender.”

Meanwhile, Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan warned that local authorities have simply failed to understand the scale of the challenge that we're facing this summer.


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Crowds Drinking Dublin Leo Varadkar Party South William Street Tanaiste Varadkar

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