Home Irish Showbiz Gardaí visit Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School over lockdown classes

Gardaí visit Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School over lockdown classes

The classes commenced with nine international students last month despite Level 5 restrictions

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Gardaí have visited Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co. Cork over their lockdown classes.

The Irish Mirror revealed that owner Darina Allen was running in-person classes for international students in recent weeks, despite the Level 5 Covid restrictions.

The restrictions, which came into place on December 31, ban organised indoor and outdoor gatherings, while restaurants remain closed.

The residential courses began in January, with nine students from the US, Holland and the UK flying into Ireland to attend the classes, costing €12,000 per place.

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According to The Irish Times, Gardaí arrived at the school in Shanagarry on Monday, after receiving a complaint from members of the public that cookery courses were still running.

A Garda spokeswoman said the school had agreed to suspend classes “while gardaí complete their enquiries.”

Darina insisted the cookery school adhered to Covid guidelines, telling the Irish Examiner: “We felt we had a strong responsibility to [the students] and that we did the right thing.”

“The students, who had booked residential places on Ballymaloe’s almost €13,000, 12-week Certificate Course, which was due to start on January 4, flew into Ireland in late December for two weeks of quarantine.”

The 72-year-old said the school and the students were in a “desperate dilemma” after Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the Level 5 lockdown at the end of December.

“They had travelled long distances. Some have taken three-month career breaks. We felt we had a duty of care to these students.”

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“We were told that the lockdown would be reviewed at the end of January so the students, who had already quarantined, decided to stay,” Darina added, explaining students then entered a ‘Ballymaloe bubble’.

“We have done everything in line with public health guidelines. We have very strict regulations in the school.”

“The students, and all the staff, have been meticulous about everything, from the 5km travel restrictions, to the social distancing.”

“We know that one slip could make a difference to everybody. We have nine in a kitchen that would normally have 20. And we have cancelled all other courses,” she revealed.

In a statement, Ballymaloe manager Rebecca Cronin said: “We are confident that we made the right decision under the circumstances at the time and given our duty of care.”

“We take every possible measure to ensure the health and safety of everyone however, we are aware of concerns expressed recently and so have decided to cease the classes. The students will make travel arrangements when it is possible and safe to do so.”

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