Gardaí launch investigation into St Patrick’s Day party at castle owned by UCD professor

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Security sources say upwards of 75 people may have attended the party at the Co Kildare castle.

GARDAÍ HAVE LAUNCHED an investigation following a party this week at a Co Kildare castle owned by UCD professor and anti-lockdown campaigner Dolores Cahill.

The event is alleged to have taken place on Tuesday evening into the early hours of St Patrick’s Day morning, with security sources claiming upwards of 75 people may have been in attendance. 

Professor Cahill, a faculty member at the UCD School of Medicine and chair of the Irish Freedom Party, has established herself as a staunch opponent of Covid-related public health restrictions since the start of the pandemic. 

UCD’s student union today released a statement requesting that college authorities investigate Cahill over whether her activities and remarks at an anti-lockdown event in a Dublin park on St Patrick’s Day amount to gross misconduct.

It’s also emerged that Gardaí have launched an investigation into the gathering at White Castle, which is owned by Cahill and situated on Duke Street in the centre of Athy. 

At one point in the early hours of St Patrick’s Day morning a large group of people exited the castle grounds, spilling out onto neighbouring streets – leading to dozens of complaints to local authorities and gardaí, sources said. 

It’s understood a group of people also travelled to gather at the castle on St Patrick’s Day evening.  

In situations such as these, a senior investigating garda is appointed to probe the incident. If necessary a file is then submitted to the DPP who ultimately decides if charges are to be brought against the individual. It’s understood no such file has been sent to the DPP as yet. 

Asked about reports of a gathering at the address this week a Garda spokesperson said the force did not comment on private addresses. 

“An Garda Síochána is carrying out enquiries into an alleged breach of Public Health Regulations at a property in Athy [on]Wednesday 17 March 2021,” a statement from the Garda Press Office said. 

“The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended, are currently in force.

“Where Gardaí identify potential breaches of the public health regulations a file is prepared for the DPP in each case or a Fixed Payment Notice is issued where appropriate.

“Regulation 8, places restriction on persons organising events. This is a penal regulation.

“Gardaí in Kildare did stop a number of motorists [on Wednesday]evening who were making non-essential journeys. A number of FPNs will be issued as a result. A breach of public health regulations for travel without a ‘reasonable excuse’ can be enforced by a €100 Fixed Payment Notice.”

Land Registry documents show that Dolores Cahill became an owner of the property alongside another named person on 16 January 2020.

It’s not known whether Professor Cahill was in attendance at the gathering this week.

Contacted by The Journal by phone this evening, she said she had no comment to make. 

Rich history

Sitting on the banks of the River Barrow in the middle of Athy, the castle was built around the year 1417 and has a rich history.

Screenshot 2021-03-19 at 16.10.17
White’s Castle in Athy, Co Kildare

It was used as a prison during the 1798 Rebellion and at one stage, in the early part of the 19th Century, functioned as a Royal Irish Constabulary barracks.

The castle was put on the market for €450,000 in 2019.

According to a 2019 Leinster Leader article, the 3,500 square foot, 14-room property is a “three-storey detached castle comprised of ground floor, first and second floors” and an accessible roof.

Renovated and fitted with a new roof between 2005 and 2012, the property, the article said, “offers a great opportunity for further restoration and development as a home and/or a commercial venture with particular focus on its tourist potential as a heritage centre or museum”.

On 1 August last year, an event was held at the castle billed as “The Festival of the Butterfly”. 

According to a video posted on Cahill’s personal website, it was part of something called the “Custodean [sic]project”. 

Cahill is described on the website as the founder of the Custodean project. A subtitle under the video describes the project as a “platform to allow individuals to be custodians of their own heritage, health and future”.

Footage of the event shows people, including children, dressed in Celtic garb and a man is seen riding in “an ancient Gaelic chariot”, described in the video as “a potent symbol of our shared Irish heritage and capabilities as a people”.

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Debunked

Professor Cahill has established herself as a staunch opponent of Covid-related public health restrictions since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. 

A number of her claims have been debunked by media outlets including The Journal and social media companies have taken down videos featuring her opinions on the pandemic.

In one video, which has since been removed from Facebook after being debunked by US science website Health Feedback, the UCD academic claimed that people will have “hardly any symptoms” if they get the virus once they have been eating healthily and taking vitamins C and D along with zinc. She also said that there is no need for a vaccine for Covid-19.

UCD students have, over the past year, voiced their discontent with Professor Cahill’s public activities.

On 16 June last year, UCD student newspaper The College Tribune reported that “a group of students collaboratively wrote a letter detailing Cahill’s claims and providing scientific evidence which contradicts them.

“This letter was signed by 133 students from the UCD School of Medicine.”

In its statement this morning the UCD student union President Conor Anderson said Cahill’s continued escalation of rhetoric had the potential to endanger public health and said he had called on college authorities “to request that Prof Cahill be investigated under Statute 28 of the Universities Act 1997″. 

“This statute defines gross misconduct, in part, as ‘deliberate disregard for health and safety precautions likely to endanger another person’.” 

Contacted by The Journal this morning and asked for a response to the statement from the UCDSU calling for a college probe into her conduct, Professor Cahill said her response was “no comment”.

UCD was also approached for comment on the UCDSU statement.

– With reporting by Daragh Brophy 

Professor Cahill speaking at the Herbert Park event on St Patrick's Day.

Professor Cahill speaking at the Herbert Park event on St Patrick’s Day.

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