Since the country has shut down in light of this darn plague we’re experiencing, I’ve been working from home. Recently, I’ve spent most of my time as a student journalist covering things happening in Dublin. As a native of Louth, it’s been a bit of a bummer with all the exciting stories happening far more than 5km from my house. To my absolute astonishment though, on Tuesday evening, the most bizarre story landed about 2km from my doorstep.

Notorious political activist, and supposed “protector of the constitution”, Gemma O’Doherty staged a protest on Blackrock Beach in Co. Louth. I’m still not quite sure why she selected our quiet little seaside visit for her antics. Maybe the sea breeze got those tricolours flapping around better than usual? I just couldn’t resist but go down and see what the craic was. 

Her band of 30 or so activists chose a pretty nice spot with the sun setting nicely on the Cooley peninsula in the background. It was all very romantic, I know. For those of you who don’t know O’Doherty, John Waters and their band of merry men, the two leaders recently challenged the State on its “unconstitutional” COVID-19 legislation. The whole thing flopped pretty hard in a glorious ball of flames, but the two journalists haven’t given up yet.

Their beach protest argued against “corona laws”, “mandatory vaccines” and “unlawful lockdown.” As expected, it did not go down well with the residents. Although the beach was officially closed, their antics attracted a crowd of about a hundred onlookers, mostly curious teenagers – this really was the most exciting thing to happen here in a while!

One sign said: “we will not be censored, tested, chipped or poisoned”. Another wrote: “FAKE NEWS HQ.” Although they attracted a fair amount of people, most seemed to be laughing at the bizarre events that rolled onto Blackrock beach. 

As the group waved their banners and flags, they were booed, shouted down, subject to footballs, water balloons, one hefty pint of water and local comedy group TPM provided the most outrageous counter-protest. 

TPM’s Charles and Andrew Hendy were by far the highlight of the whole fiasco. The duo ran out onto the beach with sirens and tin foil hats, claiming to be “Dundalk Against Change”. 

The two jumped around the sand by O’Doherty and Waters shouting things like: “Bring back dial-up”, “Bring back the punt”, “We are idiots”, “The internet is too fast”, “We want our old ways back, because that’s the way that we had it, and the new ways are wrong. Stop the new ways!” There was also a lot of manic rambling about having Dundalk’s old shopping centre replaced by the new one, and the old Tesco that was accompanied by a new Tesco but then they closed the old Tesco. No better message for the people of Blackrock. After leaving onlookers in stitches laughing, the overall message was clear. Dundalk is against change… or something like that. TDM’s video has already racked up a whopper 400k views on twitter, I suggest you give it a watch! You can even see me for a split second at 1:56. I feel like I’m famous now too. 

Some people in penguin suits even stopped by with signs saying: “She don’t ‘squawk’ in my name.” From what could have been a small protest on the beach some evening, turned into a popcorn-munching comedy festival right on our doorstep. O’Doherty will certainly be remembered for this one locally for some time to come, but probably not how she hoped she would be. 

While the Gardaí presence was fairly sizeable towards the end, after about an hour of speeches amongst O’Doherty, Waters and their supporters, the whole thing fizzled out, with most of the onlookers losing interest. It was the most exciting thing to happen in Blackrock since lockdown began, so I wholeheartedly thank the protesters and ‘Dundalk Against Change’ for their evening entertainment.


Conor Capplis – Editor