A MARQUEE erected on an Irish halting site for a large wedding party in breach of Covid-19 regulations was dismantled today.
And public representatives tonight backed the clampdown on the Traveller knees-up, declaring: The law had to be upheld.
Gardai and contractors removed the wedding marquee at Burton Park, LeopardstownCredit: Collins
Floral decorations were removedCredit: Collins
There was a large Garda presence as contractors removed the wedding marqueeCredit: Collins
Gardai gathered at the sceneCredit: Collins
Garda cars lined the streetCredit: Collins
Council chiefs were granted leave by a court to hire an independent contractor to remove the sprawling tent if Michael and Johanna Connors refused to do it themselves.
Judge Sinéad Ní Chulacháin also made an order restraining the Connors, and anyone else knowing about the court injunction, from interfering with contractor employees while demolishing the wedding marquee.
The marquee, with seating for up to 60 people, had been erected at a halting site in Burton Park, Leopardstown Road, south Dublin, for a wedding reception.
But Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council went to court this morning ahead of the celebrations tonight to toast the nuptials. Dublin Circuit Civil Court heard that when told he was breaching Covid-19 regulations on large gatherings, Mr Connors replied: I know all that.
I know Im breaching my tenancy but it is my sons wedding and he has no other place to go.
Connors sons wedding went ahead in Co Armagh this morning but the marquee for the afters at the halting site in south Dublin was taken down after Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council secured the court order.
A heavy Garda presence remained outside the halting site where a wedding reception was planned.
The wedding limousine arrived back from Co Armagh with members of the party following it to the site.
At least 20 Garda vehicles including the public order unit, squad cars and traffic gardai were monitoring events, with the cop operation causing local traffic chaos.
Amid the controversy, local representatives tonight backed the clampdown.
Labour Councillor Lettie McCarthy declared: Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council must uphold what Government policy is and Government policy at the moment is that we cannot have large outdoor gatherings.
So Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council had no option but to uphold the law.
Cops began arriving at the halting site at around 2pm after council officials moved in to take down the marquee on foot of the court order.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council tonight confirmed the marquee had been dismantled.
The council and Garda operation came after Judge Ní Chulacháinthis morning granted the authority leave to hire an independent contractor to remove the marquee at Burton Park, Leopardstown Road.
The Traveller parents of the couple married in Co Armagh had been told by the judge to dismantle a marquee they erected at the site.
When asked to take it down, Mr Connors replied: I cant take it down. My sons wedding is going ahead and I accept the consequences of not taking it down.
Meanwhile, all age groups could finally get clarity on when they will get their first vaccine dose next week, when Health Minister Stephen Donnelly brings a new jab plan to Cabinet.
It comes as Minister Donnelly said he wants to see pharmacists brought into the vaccine campaign as quickly as possible with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson jab likely to be administered in local chemists.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee is due to provide new advice on whether the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines are safe to use for people under the age of 50.
At the moment, Irelands health experts are only recommending these two vaccines for people over the age of 50 due to concerns around rare blood clots.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly today revealed the Government will be able to provide an accurate timeline to all age cohorts for when they will get their first dose, as part of a revamped jab plan due to be brought to Cabinet next week.
He said: Well be able to give more accurate timing in terms of when each age cohort can expect to start getting their first dose.
Speaking at the launch of the new Slaintecare plan at Tallaght Hospital, Minister Donnelly said: We are waiting on advice from NIAC in terms of relatively short-term important decisions we have to make in the coming days about the use of various vaccines in various cohorts.
As soon as we have that advice from NIAC, Ill discuss it with the CMO with the Department and bring a recommendation to Government.
Once we have that, we will be able to give more accurate timing in terms of when each of the age cohorts can expect to start getting their first dose.
When pressed on whether he could envisage bringing a new jab plan to Cabinet next week, Minister Donnelly said: Yes, I could.
Local pharmacists across the country are furious theyve been left on the sideline during the jab campaign despite having a lot of experience of giving vaccines to patients.
But Minister Donnelly said he wants to see people getting the Covid vaccine as quickly as possible with the J&J shot the most likely to be administered in these local settings.
He said: The HSE is currently working with, I think, 21 pharmacies to make sure the IT systems are all in place and all of the portals and so forth work.
The Johnson & Johnson is one of the vaccines that the HSE believes would be very useful to use with the pharmacies.
Personally, I would like to see the pharmacies more involved so there is an ongoing discussion with the HSE to bring them in as quickly as is possible.
Minister Donnelly claimed discussions to green light the Pfizer vaccine for children aged between 12 and 15 was an exciting development but claimed it was too early to know when jabs will be available for kids.
He said: The EMA is looking at clinical trials from Pfizer at the moment. I think its very exciting progress but we have to wait and see if what the EMA comes out with.
As you know, clinical trials have been going on with 12, 13, 14 and 15 year olds.
The EMA is looking at that. The FDA made a decision earlier this week on the use of that vaccine in children for emergency use only.
So the EMA will look at that trial data and theyll issue their recommendations. NIAC will look at that and then come back to us with recommendations.
Its too early at this point to say exactly when that advice will be.
Martin Collins, Co-Director of Traveller group Pavee Point, tonight branded the wedding plans inexcusable and indefensible.
He said: People cant plead ignorance anymore.
Everybody knows the rules and regulations from Nphet and the HSE that large gatherings at this time is not acceptable.
Its highly dangerous and can be a super-spreader for Covid-19. All I can do is advice and plead with my community not to get involved or organise large gatherings its highly dangerous and they are effectively playing Russian roulette with their lives.
Collins maintained that most travellers are following the public health guidelines but called for everyone to put their shoulders to the wheel to fight the virus.