GARDAÍ are awaiting legislation from the government to see what new powers they will have in relation to Covid-19 regulations.
Gardaí are expected to have powers to visit private homes to ensure regulations are adhered to. However, the current set of restrictions are due to expire on September 13 — two days before the Dáil is due to return from its summer break.
Gardaí in Cork told The Echo that some regulations from the previous government were “woolly” and they are hoping planned legislation to be introduced by the current government will be concrete. However, they say they cannot enforce the restrictions on households at present, until after September 15, unless the government returns earlier to draw up the new laws.
The general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, Antoinette Cunningham, tweeted: “AGSI noted the clarification from government that primary legislation will be required to enforce greater enforcement of some aspects of public health regulations for #COVID19. While we are not aware of what this legislation will consist of at this time, we await the detail of any new enforcement measures.”
Meanwhile, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, headed by Corkman Liam Herrick, has also criticised the plan, urging that Covid-19 regulations not be “policed by coercion”. The council also wants more transparency around how public health decisions are made.
The council said: “ICCL does not support the reintroduction of expanded powers of enforcement for An Garda Síochána or the use of criminal penalties. We reiterate our position that public health advice should be consent and education-based. It shouldn’t be policed by coercion.”
The council accepted that all necessary steps must be taken to limit the spread of the virus.