Gardaí: Small minority resisting public health guidelines 

Gardaí: Small minority resisting public health guidelines 
Garda Ollie Power on Covid-19 coronavirus travel restirction checkpoint duty at the Lower Glanmire Road, Cork. 

Gardaí have said a small minority of cases are resisting against the public health guidelines and temporary restrictions in place to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over the June Bank Holiday weekend, the Gardaí invoked the Public Health regulations on just six occasions.

However, there have been 88 incidents of spitting/coughing on members of the force since April 8 and Gardaí had to use anti-spit guards 63 times.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the number of spitting and coughing attacks on Gardaí, while simply carrying out their lawful duties, is reducing but remains unacceptable in any circumstance.

"An Garda Síochána will continue to treat any such incident against a member of An Garda Síochána or any citizen very seriously. The use of Anti-Spit guards has also reduced. An Garda Síochána will only use anti-spit guards as last resort and in line with the Garda Decision Making Model, which includes at its centre human rights and our Code of Ethics.” 

The Garda policy and use of anti-spit guards will be reviewed by An Garda Síochána in September.

As well as this, enforcement powers under the Covid-19 Public Health regulations were used 289 times and 13 times in the last week.

These include both arrests and incidents without arrest where details were taken for consultation with the DPP on the decision to issue charges.

Of the 289 incidents, two were as a result of an instruction from a relevant medical professional as per the Act.

Sixty-one of these incidents resulted in an at least one arrest with another 43 under the Public Health regulations and the remainder being dealt with by consulting with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution.

To date, in 76 of these incidents, a charge or summons has issued. Most incidents involve a single individual but some have resulted in charges against multiple people. The remainder are under criminal investigation.

Gardaí Emer O'Mahony and Maurice Barry, Cobh, and Donagh McCarthy, Midleton, operating a Covid-19 garda checkpoint near Castlemartyr, Co. Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.
Gardaí Emer O'Mahony and Maurice Barry, Cobh, and Donagh McCarthy, Midleton, operating a Covid-19 garda checkpoint near Castlemartyr, Co. Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

Other enforcement powers were used in 1,878 incidents. where other offences were disclosed in the course of COVID-19 operations. These range from incidents such as drink driving or disqualified drivers detected at checkpoints, to drugs and weapons seizures, to public order offences.

The number of incidents involving other suspected crimes continues to far exceed the number of cases involving only breaches of Government restrictions.

Commissioner Drew Harris said: "An Garda Síochána continues to see significant public support for the Public Health Guidelines. Many individual, families and small groups took advantage of the good weather over the weekend to enjoy the bank holiday weekend and avail of physical exercise.

“Most did so with the best efforts to comply with Public Health guidelines. Unfortunately, An Garda Síochána did have to intervene in a number of locations to engage, educate, encourage and ultimately enforce the Regulations.

“An Garda Síochána will continue our community engagement with citizens at key locations such as parks, beaches and natural beauty spots over the coming days.” From 12 March to 1 June, the Garda National Vetting Bureau (GNVB) has processed 29,090 vetting applications for COVID-related roles. This includes applications across medical and healthcare roles, and voluntary groups.

GNVB has been fully up-to-date with all vetting applications throughout 2020 with a current turnaround time for vetting applications of one day.

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