Call to oppose bail in spit and cough cases where Covid-19 is 'weaponised'

Call to oppose bail in spit and cough cases where Covid-19 is 'weaponised'

RANK and file gardaí are calling for a blanket policy by An Garda Síochána to always oppose bail in cases where someone is charged with the “weaponisation of Covid-19”.

President of the Garda Representative Association, Jim Mulligan, raised the issue after a number of incidents in the past week in which gardaí were spat and coughed at by people.

A man has been charged in connection with such an incident in Cork.

Mr Mulligan said: “Public order legislation allows gardaí to deal with this threatening behaviour, but we are calling for a specific Garda Síochána policy to always oppose bail in cases where someone is charged with offences connected to the weaponisation of Covid-19.

“The GRA is engaging with garda management on these matters and have reiterated to them that this behaviour shows the need for greater availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks.

“Movement restrictions must be enforced. Gardaí would prefer not to instruct people and inquire into their business in this way but it is absolutely necessary.

“At a time when the whole country is putting their shoulder to the wheel to save lives, it is essential that everyone pushes in the same direction.

“Anything that undermines this national effort is nothing other than unpatriotic. We all have a duty to save lives by maintaining social distance and gardaí have a job of work to ensure this happens.

“Our members should not be deliberately endangered for carrying out their duty in protecting the public from this virus.” He added: “A cast-iron protocol adopted in every Garda station and specialist unit in the country for the deployment of PPE is also required.

“Currently, members are being sent on duties that involve close contact with the public without being issued facemasks.”

Members of the association met with the Department of Justice officials yesterday to discuss the implementation of new legislation introduced two weeks ago in relation to the dispersal of groups, enforcement of confinement orders and other elements of the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020.

The president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, Antoinette Cunningham, said its members are also looking for management direction on the objection to bail for those who have been charged with spitting or coughing at gardaí.

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