Harris calls for cancellation of anti-direct provision protest on public health grounds

Simon Harris was speaking after a similar event protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis saw hundreds of people take to the streets of Dublin.
Harris calls for cancellation of anti-direct provision protest on public health grounds
Simon Harris told those planning to join the weekend protest that opposition to something doesn't give people a right to break public health guidelines.

Health Minister Simon Harris has called for the organisers of this weekend's anti-direct provision protest to cancel the event.

Minister Harris said that the event should not go ahead in light of public health guidelines. He was speaking after a similar event protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis saw hundreds of people take to the streets of Dublin.

Minister Harris said that opposition to something doesn't give people a right to break public health guidelines.

Minister Harris said that while racism made him "sick to the pit of his stomach" and physically ill. He could not abide by large gatherings, at present.

"I think we have to be very careful that we don't stay silent on a protest just because we support its cause. I abhor racism, it makes me feel physically sick to the pit of my stomach. I think what's happening in the United States, with the death of George Floyd and others, really concerns any right-thinking person.

But that doesn't mean we can ignore mass gathering guidelines. The reality of the situation, regardless of your cause or how just your cause is, large gatherings are dangerous.

"So I do think we have to be careful, that we don't stay silent on a protest which did clearly breach guidelines."

Mr Harris said that while there was some other instances where physical distancing guidelines were breached, he believed the majority of people adhered to the rules. However, he said this weekend's protest should be cancelled.

"I would call on anybody thinking of organising any sort of mass gathering or large scale protest, or anything that breaches the public health guildelines not to proceed with it.

"I would point out to people that there are many ways we can make our views known - there are many ways we can express our disgust at racism. There are many ways that you can campaign donate and advocate to bring about change.

There will be a time where we can protest again - but now is not the time.

Mr Harris said that distancing guidelines had made people be unable to be at loved ones' funerals and that it had been "hard on everybody".

Minister Harris also said that he was not in favor of speeding up Ireland's roadmap, saying that he and Taoiseach and Leo Varadkar, were more in favor of a roadmap which could be started and sped up, rather than one which was too fast, who would have to go backwards.

He said that there had been a debate on how quickly Ireland would reopen and this was healthy, but said he remained guided by NPHET advice.

"I've been clear, as has the Taoiseach that we want to see a plan that when we press "go" on it, we move forward and forward and forward. We don't want a situation where we produce a piece of paper that gets us to an endpoint quickly, but which results in people getting sick or the loss of more lives or leads to restrictions being reimposed."

Mr Harris said that it was unlikely any measures from Phase 3 of Ireland's roadmap would be brought forward to this Monday, saying that getting through Phases 1 and 2 would give the country "confidence".

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