SEVERAL ARRESTS were made in Cork this past Saturday night with footage emerging online showing large numbers of people socialising in the city centre.
Charity worker Ali Hamou shared a clip of the unfolding scenes on social media.
In the footage, large groups of people could be seen gathered in the Grand Parade area of the city, with the majority showing little regard for social distancing and wearing of masks.
Despite the alarming scenes, Gardaí reported few instances of drunkenness or other public order issues.
Officers were out in force conducting checks and patrols as part of a renewed effort to tackle the recent spate of on-street drinking sessions witnessed in cities like Dublin during lockdown.
#Covid19 | In scenes described as having a "carnival atmosphere," Gardaí made a number of arrests for public order offences tonight in Cork City.
Video taken by charity worker Ali Hamou tonight in Cork City centre.
Read our full report online here: https://t.co/0QpR4RwWuI pic.twitter.com/mluUoJUCdZ
— Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) November 21, 2020
While Gardai acknowledged that several arrests were made, they stressed that the crowds present were “overwhelmingly compliant.”
A spokesperson for An Garda Siochana stated: “The high visibility of members on the street greatly assisted in engaging with the public who were overwhelmingly compliant with Public health guidelines, Gardai identified that most persons present were part of family groups and bubbles that were in the city to see the Christmas lights, window shopping and enjoying take away festive drinks and food.”
The majority of the disturbanced witnessed are believed to have taken place between 5pm and 9pm with Gardai reporting “significant compliance by members of the public with public health regulations and guidelines”.
Officers were forced to intervene, however, after observing a group of young men who they suspected of being involved in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs.
Gardai are dealing with large crowds in Cork City. Hundreds have converged on the Grand Parade in the past hour. This video was posted to social media by Ali Hamou. pic.twitter.com/EGyNhBLLsU
— Neil Prendeville (@NeilRedFM) November 21, 2020
The Garda spokesperson continued: “One male ran from Gardai who after a brief chase intercepted and arrested this male.
“This engagement has been captured and circulated widely on social media. A quantity of suspected cocaine was recovered. One Garda received minor facial injuries during the incident.
“During this incident, and as a result of a small number of other, mainly related, minor public order incidents, nine males were arrested by Gardai.”
Four men have been released pending the completion of a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
One man has been charged with public order offences, one was offered an Adult Caution and two juveniles will be processed through the Juvenile Diversion Programme.