'We've all done things we regret': HSE CEO warns against demonising young people over viral videos

'We've all done things we regret': HSE CEO warns against demonising young people over viral videos

HSE CEO, Paul Reid, said "The misuse of social media can be so cruel to young people sometimes."

The Chief Executive of the HSE has warned against villainising young people who have made mistakes when it comes to the current pandemic.

Paul Reid first addressed the issue on Tuesday after a TikTok clip of young girls in Dublin talking about sharing drinks and licking faces as they discuss who may get a positive diagnosis went viral.

Taking to social media himself, Mr Reid tweeted: "The misuse of social media can be so cruel to young people sometimes.

"We all likely did some things when younger that we regretted. Let's not publicly shame but redouble our efforts to communicate the dangers of this virus to everyone. Think mental health too."

The controversial TikTok video is the latest in a number of videos that have circulated on social media showing people appearing to disregard public health guidelines.

Last weekend, footage of crowds of young people drinking in the centre of Killarney prompted anger and outrage from many.

In the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe described the TikTok video as "almost treasonous to the State".

Mr Crowe said of the short video: "I think it is absolutely reprehensible, I think it is almost treasonous to the State at its time of need that people would be engaging in that."

He added: "I think that their actions in trying to draw the Covid on themselves and pass it on to others, I think it is only a step or two away from being culpable of manslaughter."

Labour TD Duncan Smith called Mr Cathal's remarks "one of the most reckless contributions I have seen in this house in a long time".

"Those girls who did that video did something juvenile and they are paying a heavy price for that in their local community," said Mr Smith.

He said that as legislators they should not be contributing to any unnecessary hysteria.

Speaking last night on The Tonight Show, Mr Reid once again urged people not to vilify young people.

"I think what I've seen from young people during this phase of COVID has been huge sacrifices, leaving cert uncertainty and not being able to travel abroad.

"I’ve actually seen some really good sides of young people. I’ve seen how they’ve looked after their elderly parents, I’ve seen young people volunteer to work with the HSE during this period, so that’s the bit I want to celebrate.” 

“We have to be really careful not to demonise people and social media is rampant with that and there is mental health aspects.

"I bet everybody whether it was in Killarney or whether it was in Skerries or any of those incidents, I bet you they regret it.

"But, we’ve all done things we regret and unfortunately with social media it can shame people, and we have to think about people’s mental health too.”

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