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Mourners asked to leave Covid patient Joe McCarron’s funeral for not wearing facemasks

Erik G

Updated 11 hours ago

SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE were asked to leave a Donegal church during the funeral of a man who died from Covid because they were not wearing facemasks.

Joe McCarron, 67, died from the virus and was buried yesterday following his funeral mass at St Crona’s Church in Dungloe.

However, at least five people were asked to leave the church because they were not wearing facemasks in line with Government guidelines.

At least two of the five people were members of the so-called Common Law Movement.

All five sat together in a row on the same seat despite signs asking people to stay two metres apart.

According to an eyewitness, the mourners were asked to leave by a parish assistant.

The woman initially approached the men with a box of facemasks but they declined to take the masks.

The eye-witness said: “They were all sitting together while everyone else was sitting apart adhering to the guidelines.

“I knew two of them to see because of recent media coverage and from social media. They were definite members of that anti-vaccine protest group.

“They were offered masks as none of them were wearing any. However, they declined and left without any fuss.

“They were not outside the church when the funeral was over and I certainly didn’t see them at the graveside when Joe was buried.”

Mr McCarron, who is survived by his wife Una, made international headlines last week when he was encouraged to leave Letterkenny University Hospital by anti-vaccine protestors.

He left the hospital on Tuesday week last after protestors claimed he was being forced to go into the intensive care unit.

He left but was rushed back into hospital on Thursday week last suffering from serious breathing difficulties.

He passed away on Friday afternoon.

Gardai confirmed they attended the church after a report was made to them of people not wearing facemasks.

A Garda spokesperson said: “Gardaí received report of a number of people inside a church not wearing face coverings in Dungloe Co. Donegal on the 26th September 2021.

“Gardaí attended and provided advice to those present. No offences disclosed. Enquiries ongoing.

“The Health Act 1947 (Sections 31AB and 31AD) (COVID-19) (Operation of Certain Indoor Premises) Regulations 2021, SI 385/2021, came into operation on the 26th July 2021. Members of An Garda Síochána are not a ‘compliance officer’ in respect of these Regulations.”


Earlier today, it emerged that gardaí are investigating the circumstances around McCarron leaving hospital.

A senior investigating officer is now overseeing the investigation to establish whether any criminal offence was committed by those involved.

A video widely shared on social media shows that on 14 September McCarron appears to be encouraged by another person to leave the hospital.

The video shows one man telling a visibly ill McCarron to “put your trousers on, we are going home. You are safe”.

He then tells McCarron to follow him, and adds: “You stay behind me, nobody will touch you.”

McCarron replies: “OK.”

A staff member then tells the individual that what he is doing is wrong.

“You have the right to decide what you want to do but I don’t think what he’s saying is right. You are barely able to breathe. We want you to stay to help you,” the staff member said.

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“I am very worried about you. I think he is saying something very dangerous. What he is saying is very wrong and very dangerous and I think he is endangering your life.

“It is a very difficult disease that you have and I am not lying to you, you could die.”

The man replies: “If you stay here, they will f***ing kill you, Joe.”

He then accused hospital staff of “lying”.

Despite the efforts of hospital staff, McCarron left. He was readmitted to hospital days later and died on Friday.

His funeral mass took place in St Crona’s Church in Dungloe yesterday.

His family said they wanted to keep their home private before the funeral because of fears around Covid.

In a statement, a Garda spokesman said: “An Garda Síochána continues to investigate a number of recent incidents which occurred at Letterkenny University Hospital.

“A senior investigating officer is appointed to oversee the investigation.

“An Garda Síochána has no further comment at this time.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly described the incident as “very concerning”.

“I have seen some footage from it, it is very concerning.

“There is absolutely no place for that,” he added.

With reporting by PA.

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