Northern Ireland news

Protestors opposed to Covid restrictions and vaccine passports take part in 'freedom march'

Protesters against vaccinations, mask-wearing and health passports gathered at the city hall before marching to Botanic Gardens. Pictures Mal McCann
Seanín Graham

LARGE crowds of protestors opposed to Covid restrictions and vaccinations gathered in Belfast and Dublin at the weekend.

Hundreds of people met at Belfast City Hall to take part in a 'freedom march' before making their way to Botanic Gardens.

Some carried placards with anti-vaccine slogans and sang the Pink Floyd song, We Don't Need No Education, changing the lyrics to "Hey Boris, leave our kids alone".

Police were in attendance but maintained a low-key presence.

They confirmed they will now review footage.

Speakers also criticised the roll-out of the Covid certificate app or 'vaccine passport' in Northern Ireland for those who have received both jabs.

PSNI Superintendent Nigel Henry said: "Officers have engaged with those present, including the organiser, in relation to the significant volume of people in attendance - some of whom were on the road - to ensure public safety.

"We will review footage gathered and consider any suspected breaches of the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998."

Almost 2,800 people tested positive for the virus over the weekend in Northern Ireland.

Last week The Irish News revealed that two-thirds of hospitalised Covid cases had not been vaccinated for the week ending July 17.

Meanwhile, roads were blocked and traffic came to standstill in Dublin as more than 1,500 protesters gathered outside Custom House on Saturday.

Crowds hold anti-vaccine signs made their way along O'Connell Street and then to Government Buildings where they chanted "freedom".

Others held placards with anti-lockdown messages, while others waved Irish flags, Irish county flags as well as American and Polish flags.

Some maskless protestors criticised Covid vaccine certificates, which must be produced in restaurants and pubs as indoor hospitality re-opens today in the Republic.

The digital certs are also required for international travel.

One speaker claimed the vaccine programme was "genocide".

A large Garda operation was in place, which included public order unit vans as well as Garda prison vans on standby.

Among those taking part in the Dublin protest was prominent anti-lockdown campaigner Dolores Cahill.

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Northern Ireland news