A doctor who returned to Ireland to fight Covid-19 has had a photo of him opposing an anti-mask protest go viral.
The protest marched through Dublin city centre at the weekend.
Stephen Hatton stood outside Trinity, protesting the march with a simple thumbs down.
The photo, taken by Des Byrne, has since gone viral on social media.
Dr Hatton had been in the city when he heard the protest passing, at which point he made the thumbs down gesture.
Y'day I watched in horror as this motley crew were herded through Dublin city centre. Their shepherds, a malevolent gang of fascists and conspiracy theorists. They screamed & boo-ed at me as I stood outside Trinity College, the university I graduated from as a medical doctor. pic.twitter.com/NW8m5egjiX— Stephen Hatton (@StiofanMGC) September 13, 2020
Speaking about the march to The Opinion Line on Cork's 96FM, Dr Hatton said that the crowd marching was more than 800 people, who were of all ages and it was "an ordinary group of people".
He said there “were some signs within the crowd about vaccines being dangerous. There was some sign about 5G.
“It was kind of a ragtag consort of conspiracy. Anything that you can think of. Primarily it was anti-mask, anti-Covid chants.”
He said that as a doctor it was “very disappointing” and “unsettling” to see “ordinary people with a real anger and a real frustration, that was being channelled into this kind of fairytale rhetoric."
He said: “They were being whipped up into a very loud, very aggressive form of protest.
“I was certainly very intimidated by demonstrating my disagreement with them.”
He said a few of the protestors shouted at him, adding that he kept a few metres distance between himself and the crowd. “It wasn’t motivated by social distance. It was a scary scene.”
Dr Hatton said he was approached by three different people.
“One man actually shouldered me, and I’m sure he would have shoved me if I hadn’t sidestepped at the last moment.” He said that wearing his mask in front of them caused “quite a stir” with people telling him to take off his mask.
Dr Hatton said that Covid-19 was a “very serious illness and it’s frustrating to see so many people that don’t understand that and are swept up by someone else’s agenda.”
Writing on social media, Dr Hatton said that he returned from working abroad at the start of the lockdown.
“I felt I was answering the call of home. I could help and I dropped everything to come back and support our already strained HSE,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I have watched and rejoiced as they recovered. I have also grieved when they died, surrounded by strangers.” He added: “Yesterday was my first day off in 12 days. A 28-hour shift in the middle of that.
“100's of these anti-mask protesters jeered at me, insulted my appearance, called me a sheep, three members approaching me aggressively- one shouldering me. A chorus of 100 voices "TAKE OFF YOUR MASK".
Meanwhile, Simon Coveney has said that the Government will be discussing the right to protest and be heard and the law and guidelines to protect the public following the anti-mask protest in Dublin at the weekend.
“There's always a balance that the State has to manage between giving people the right to protest and be heard and to demonstrate and at the same time ensure that law and order is respected.
"If there had been a tough clampdown of this protest by the guards you’d have people ringing in this morning to you saying that we have a police state and that people aren’t allowed have their say, and what about the right to protest.
“This is a difficult balancing act, I have to say that the people who were involved in that protest do not represent a majority review, in fact they represent a very, very small minority view.
“It is very unwelcome that people are foolhardy enough to think that they can ignore all of the public health advice, all of the doctors that are repeating the message over and over again, of our national public health team at Nphet, and the Minister for Health and the Government messages, they're ignoring all of that because they see conspiracies in everything, and they just demand the freedom to walk around without restrictions - that is a tiny minority view.”