Mary Kenny no longer taking part in festival after questioning ‘draconian’ travel rules

Journalist who was due to travel from England to Roscommon says Covid-19 not the Black Death

Journalist Mary Kenny will no longer participate in next week's Percy French festival in Co Roscommon due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Ms Kenny was due to give a talk at the festival next Wednesday entitled ‘Journalism a Despised Career? Reflections on Five Decades in the Communication Trade’.

Ms Kenny had asked her Twitter followers on Monday morning, if she would be subjected to the Government’s 14-day quarantine period after arriving into Ireland on a flight from London.

“In response to the announcement by the Taoiseach that travellers from Britain should not for the time being come to Ireland, the Percy French Festival and Mary Kenny have agreed that her participation in next week’s events cannot now occur,” the festival said in a statement on Monday. “We greatly regret this, but acknowledge that it is the duty of us all to put the health and safety of the people of Ireland first.”


Tweeting Ms Kenny said: “Of course I won’t flout quarantine prohibitions by speaking at the Percy French Festival at Roscommon next week. (Though I can come to Dublin and remain chez moi.)”.

Ms Kenny told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show earlier on Monday that she did not intend to break the law, but wanted legal advice on the position of Irish citizens returning to the country. She described the Government’s quarantine regulations as “draconian” and said the response should be “proportionate.” Irish authorities require anyone coming into the State, apart from those travelling from Northern Ireland to self-isolate for 14 days.

Covid-19 was not the Black Death, she said. It killed “some” who were vulnerable, but for most the symptoms were flu-like and unpleasant and as such the Government’s response should be proportionate.

People should be sensible and take precautions, they should proceed with their lives. “There are risks in life,” she said.

Ms Kenny said there were risks in not doing anything, which could have an impact on mental health and social interactions. The Government should take everything into account, she added.

The trip to Roscommon, while not essential travel, was a professional engagement and some of the cancellations of events had been “over-done” she said.

Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice, who is scheduled as the opening speaker at the festival, said he spoke to organisers on Monday morning and trusts that public health guidelines will be followed to "the letter of the law".

He said the event will be held outside and within marquees, with the number of attendees restricted.

“They will have the sanitisers and they are changing microphones for each speaker,” he said.

“We were booked a year ago for this... I believe the man [organiser Kevin Finnerty] when he says he will do everything by the letter of the law,” the Independent TD added.

Mr Fitzmaurice said he understands there will be no one travelling to the event from outside of Ireland.

“From the regulations people are allowed to move within our own country. I think the big problem was the person from England,” he added.