Four people were arrested for public order offenses over the weekend as large crowds gathered in Dublin to take advantage of a period of fine May weather.
Videos circulated on Twitter showed huge crowds of people gathered on South William Street on Saturday evening in what has been described as "an open-air party" by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan.
Holohan said that he was "absolutely shocked" by the large crowds in Dublin City in a tweet on Saturday evening.
"Drove into Dublin City Centre to collect someone from work at 815 PM. Absolutely shocked at scenes in South Great George’s St, Exchequer St, South William St area. Enormous crowds- like a major open air party. This is what we do not need when we have made so much progress," Holohan said on Twitter.
Drove into Dublin City Centre to collect someone from work at 815 PM. Absolutely shocked at scenes in South Great George’s St, Exchequer St, South William St area. Enormous crowds- like a major open air party. This is what we do not need when we have made so much progress.— Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) May 29, 2021
Gardaí from the Public Order Unit and Dog Unit were put in place after they received reports that large crowds were congregating throughout the city, resulting in the arrests of four people for public order offenses.
Meanwhile, the Irish Times reports that gardaí could fence off certain areas of the city to prevent large crowds from gathering in the future.
Gardaí could cordon off areas and establish manned access points in certain parts of the city, allowing them to temporarily close areas if they become too congested.
However, senior members of An Garda Síochána are reportedly against this approach since the end of the pandemic appears to be in sight.
A garda source told the Irish Times that they believed that "more normalized socializing" would return as soon as outdoor hospitality reopens on June 7.
Officers also dispersed large crowds in Galway and Cork, arresting 12 people for public order offenses in Cork City.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that the scenes in Dublin city center were "not the kind of scenes we want to see but I do understand that people have had a tough few months".
Having seen this, I deleted my earlier tweets. Tony Holohan is right. Dublin city centre is a disaster area. I don't know what instructions the guards have, but I would have thought they should have to break up gatherings like these. pic.twitter.com/ZNA621DHvC— An Spailpín Fánach (@anspailpin) May 29, 2021
Varadkar also said that local lockdowns could be implemented if there is a spike in COVID-19 infections in certain areas.
"They are a policy option if we have an outbreak in a particular area," Varadkar said.
However, he added that "hopefully we won't have to".
Meanwhile, Dublin City Council took to Twitter on Monday to condemn the "unacceptable" levels of rubbish left on the streets of Dublin over the weekend.
"A small glimpse of what our #nighshift crew faced over the weekend in #Dublin. This is unacceptable. Removal of all of this impacts upon our other services we need to provide," Dublin City Council's Waste Management Services wrote on Twitter.
A small glimpse of what our #nighshift crew faced over the weekend in #Dublin. This is unacceptable. Removal of all of this impacts upon our other services we need to provide. Please #lovedublin & #leavenotrace. Thanks David & crew. #wastemanagement @DubCityCouncil #YourCouncil pic.twitter.com/gCJRRrR7IJ— Dublin City Council Waste Management Services (@DubCityEnviro) May 31, 2021
Dublin City Council also released a statement on Sunday asking people to act responsibly. The council said that it had no powers to deal with large-scale gatherings because they were not organized events.
The council has faced criticism on social media for not providing enough bins or public toilets ahead of Ireland's "outdoor summer".
Sunday morning on Dublin’s South William Street… no words 😔 pic.twitter.com/HvTklScgjx— Karl Purdy (@KarlPurdy) May 30, 2021
Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu said that the council needed to install more bins, toilets, and public seating for the summer and said that "we can't tell people not to gather" in the city because they've been told this will be an outdoor summer.