Northern Ireland news

Large crowd of anti-lockdown protesters gathers at Stormont as 319 new cases confirmed

Cate McCurry, PA

Crowds of people have protested against the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions days after further measures were imposed across Northern Ireland.

Demonstrators gathered at Stormont for what was described as a peaceful protest against the lockdown and wearing of face masks.

Protesters called for an end to “fear-mongering” and accused the Government of enforcing “draconian measures” across Northern Ireland.

It comes on the day the Department of Health recorded the highest number of positive cases.

On Saturday, 319 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Northern Ireland in the last 24-hour reporting period, the Department of Health said.

It brings the total number of infections to 10,542.

There was one further death recorded by the department, which brings the toll in the region to 578.

The rally heard one speaker compare the restrictions to Nazi Germany and call for an end to the “tyranny”.

It comes days after the Executive announced a ban on the mixing of two households indoors, except for single-person bubbles and certain other exemptions.

No more than six people from two households can meet in private gardens.

Speaking about the latest figures, Minister for Health Robin Swann said: “Today’s dashboard figures underline once again the seriousness of the situation we are facing.

“Another person has sadly died and the number of positive cases is the highest on record.

“Please follow the public health advice to protect yourself and others.”

A speaker at the rally, Alanna Lavery, from Cookstown in Co Tyrone, likened the enforcement of coronavirus restrictions to Nazi Germany and called for an end to what she described as a “communist state”.

She said: “When in world history did the media and the government keep a daily counter on deaths? They never provided us with a daily tally for any other infectious disease ever. Why now?

“Now that the deaths are low we have a ‘casedemic’ – a constant train of fear coming at us every day from every media source.

“Each media outlet seem to have the same script. When they bombard us with daily new cases, I would love them to provide us with figures of those who are isolating at home with no symptoms or mild symptoms, how many are in hospital care and how many are in ICU.

“This would put some perspective on the daily situation. Are these draconian measures justified? Is this solution worse than the sickness itself?

“When you don’t believe the mainstream narrative it can be a very lonely place. But when we surround ourselves with like-minded good people our vibrations raise and we feel uplifted.

“We are going to empower each other today. Northern Ireland has been divided for too long, always a political agenda at play.

“We have been divided our whole lives and now we have division over Covid.

“I can’t help think of days gone past, in particular Nazi Germany. I can’t help think ‘will it get that bad here?’

“We hope everyone leaves with fight in your hearts to say no to this tyranny.

“Say no to this communism state we find ourselves in.”

In a statement, Superintendent Melanie Jones said: “Police were in attendance at a protest at Stormont this afternoon.

“Officers spoke with the parties concerned and where appropriate, explained and encouraged people to comply with directions to prevent any breach of the peace and to ensure that the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations NI 2020 were followed.

“This approach, based on the ‘4 E’s’ of Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforcement as a last resort is consistent with our approach in all such cases.

“We will consider evidence we have gathered over the coming days to identify if any offences have been committed.”

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Northern Ireland news