University College Dublin (UCD) Professor Delores Cahill spoke at an anti-lockdown mass gathering in Herbert Park on Wednesday, the 17th of March. The gathering was described by some speakers as: “not a protest, it is a ‘gathering of free spirits’”.

If one didn’t know any better, they’d think it was a normal St Patrick’s day in Herbert Park. People gathered without masks, with the tricolours flying throughout the gathered crowd. An estimated 150-200 people gathered around the gazebo at one of the entrances to Herbert Park to listen to the festive singing which kicked off the gathering.

Signs at Herbert Park anti-lockdown protest
Some of the gathered crowd and their signs at Herbert Park anti-lockdown protest. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green

This was not a normal St Patrick’s Day celebration, however, as the Le Chéile Day gathering could be seen as an anti-lockdown protest, disguised as a gathering to promote mental health awareness.

Cahill, who was listed as the organiser of the event on social media platforms, took to the microphone to address the crowd. “This lockdown is based on lies,” Cahill said. “Our elderly are not prisoners. Micheál Martin [and the government] have to provide evidence to put masks on our children. It is a disgrace.”

Cahill Herbert Park anti-lockdown
UCD Professor Delores Cahill speaks at the Herbert Park Anti-Lockdown ‘gathering’. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green.

Cahill claimed, without citing any evidence, that asymptomatic people did not exist. “There is no such thing as asymptomatic carriers,” she said. She added that the Gardai who are enforcing the restrictions put in place by the government are implicit in ‘unlawful and criminal behaviour’.

Again, without stating any evidence to support her claims, Cahill suggested that the enforcement of wearing face coverings was resulting in children not being able to develop fully functioning brains. “Teachers are not to be enforcing masks on children,” Cahill said. “These children will not reach their IQ potential, because they are not getting the oxygen [that their brains need’. The reason they tell us to wear masks is that oxygen-deprived people are easy to control.”

Freedom flag Anti-Lockdown
The tricolour is flown at the anti-lockdown ‘gathering’ with the words “Freedom is everything” written around a smiling face. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green

Cahill concluded her address to the crowd by stating that this was not the end but the beginning of similar anti-lockdown gatherings. One such gathering is scheduled to take place on Saturday the 20th of March, at a venue yet to be announced.

Two guards anti-lockdown
The increased Garda presence at the Herbert Park anti-lockdown ‘gathering’. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green

Despite the large Garda presence, no arrests or cautions were made on the day, and the crowd eventually dispersed quietly, although a large portion of the crowd expressed their desire to march towards the RTÉ Television Centre in Donnybrook.

Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co-Editor

Crowd anti-lockdown
The crowd begins to disperse from the Herbert Park anti-lockdown ‘gathering’. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green
Sign anti-vaccine
An anti-vaccine sign being held at the Herbert Park anti-lockdown ‘gathering’. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green
Sign anti-lockdown
An anti-lockdown sign being held at Herbert Park. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green
Sign anti-vaccine
A sign reading ‘my body, my choice’, usually used for pro-choice protests, in this instance used to protest agains the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Stephen Kisbey-Green