Increased garda presence on Cork city's streets next weekend 

Increased garda presence on Cork city's streets next weekend 

Some of the crowds which gathered in Cork City centre on Saturday night. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Additional gardaí are to be deployed in Cork city this weekend as gardaí urge people not to gather in groups to contain the spread of the virus.

Nine people were arrested in Cork city last weekend with reports of a "carnival atmosphere" and large crowds gathering in the city despite level 5 restrictions.

“Additional gardaí will be deployed this coming weekend as part of our policing plan," Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said. 

"Last weekend we increased patrols and engagement, particularly in relation to large groups gathering in open spaces, and this weekend will be the same.

As we approach the festive season, the temptation to meet up with friends and family outside of your bubble will increase. 

"We are all finding it difficult but we must all do our bit. Please, do not gather in groups. We must limit our contact with each other to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Gardaí from the Regular Unit, Community Policing Unit, City Centre Policing Unit, Detective Unit and Drugs Unit were deployed in last weekend's policing plan, and will be deployed again this weekend, gardaí confirmed.

Both uniform and plainclothes gardaí patrolled the city on foot, mountain bike and vehicle last weekend.

Despite large crowds in the city centre, gardaí reported the majority of people were compliant and followed their direction and advice.

Meanwhile, business owners have had mixed reactions to the scenes of revelry last weekend.

Paul Montgomery, owner of Clancy's pub on Princes Street, said continuing to allow the sale of takeaway pints is "asking for trouble" and that every weekend, more and more people are gathering in the city centre.

You can't control where your customers are or where they drink, it's just leading to trouble. It's a farce from start to finish. I don't think publicans should be engaging in it." 

Michael O'Donovan, chair of the Cork branch of the Vintner's Federation of Ireland and owner of the Castle Inn pub on South Main street, said the scenes on Saturday were a concern to everyone.

However, he said from the videos posted on social media, it seemed like many people involved in anti-social behaviour were not carrying takeaway pints.

There is a palpable fear pubs and hospitality may be punished for this, which is very unfair. The vast majority of pubs and restaurants have been compliant."

He said that from speaking to his colleagues, a lot of pubs and restaurants offering a takeaway service closed around 8pm on Saturday.

"Looking towards Thursday, we are very worried [we will not be allowed to reopen]. A hospitality setting is a far safer environment for young people to socialise in. People need to have an opportunity to socialise in a controlled environment."

Eoin O'Sullivan, president of the Cork Business Association, said the scenes on Saturday night were "blown out of proportion", with any bad behaviour coming from a small minority.

"I think in general people were out and about to see the Christmas lights. There were a lot of families about the city," he said.

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