Gardaí used Covid-19 powers of arrest 27 times since Easter Weekend

Gardaí used Covid-19 powers of arrest 27 times since Easter Weekend
Garda checkpoint set up under Operation Fanacht. Picture: Dan Linehan.

The Gardaí have used new powers of arrest 34 times under new enacted Covid-19 legislation.

These incidents include seven arrests made over Easter weekend under Operation Fanacht.

An additional 27 arrests were then reported by the Gardaí between Apil 8 and April 18.

Gardaí have been given new powers of arrest under temporary regulations passed into law to ensure that people complied with current public health advice not to travel more than two kilometres from home.

The new regulations have been in effect since April 8.

The Gardai have reported, however "a high level of compliance with the public health guidelines at the many checkpoints and high visibility patrols it is conducting."

In a statement, the Gardaí said: "In a small number of cases, despite receiving a number of warnings, some individuals did not adhere to the guidelines and the regulations were used under the Health Act 1947- Section 31A- Temporary Restrictions (Covid 19) Regulations 2020.

From April 8, which was when the regulations came into effect, until April 18, 2020 inclusive, Gardaí have invoked the regulations 34 times."

Gardaí said that the new powers were used in two incidents involving the public following instructions from medical personal.

Some of the 34 reported incidents are already before the Courts.

Gardaí also said that on 405 occasions, incidents began in relation to Covid-19 regulations however other offences were revealed and legislation for incidents involving public order, traffic, drugs, and assault was used instead.

These incidents involved non-essential travel and public gatherings.

In a statement, Commissioner Drew Harris said: "An Garda Síochána’s role is to keep people safe through community engagement, particularly with the vulnerable, and our tradition of policing by consent.

"In that spirit, Gardaí are engaging with a large amount of people every day and in the vast majority of cases they are complying with the public health guidelines.

"It is vital this continues because it will help save lives. I want to thank the public for this and also the great support they are giving to our members every day.

"Unfortunately, there are people who did not adhere to the guidelines and Gardaí had no option but to use the regulations or other legislation. It should be stressed though that this is a tiny proportion of the people we have engaged with over this time.

"I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sympathies to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and to recognise the sacrifices that people adhering to the guidelines are making in playing their part in protecting others.

It is for those reasons that there is a collective and individual responsibility to maintain compliance with the public health guidelines,” said Commissioner Harris.

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