Gardaí mount massive bank holiday travel crackdown

Gardaí will mount high visibility patrols at tourist hotspots, parks and beauty spots to ensure people are complying with lockdown restrictions this weekend.
Gardaí mount massive bank holiday travel crackdown

Gardaí will mount high visibility patrols at tourist hotspots, parks and beauty spots to ensure people are complying with lockdown restrictions this weekend.

An extensive network of checkpoints will be in place from 7am tomorrow until the end of the May Bank Holiday weekend on Monday night.

It follows the implementation of Operation Fanacht over the Easter weekend. The major operation ran nationally to ensure people did not breach travel restrictions.

Once again, it will involve checkpoints on many main routes and thousands of checkpoints in towns and villages. At any one time, there will be more than 2,500 gardaí involved in the operation.

Over Easter, gardaí made seven arrests for breaches of the temporary Covid-19 regulations, while a further 144 arrests were made in relation to incidents which started as potential breaches of the Covid-19 rules but also involved breaches of other legislation, such as public order or road traffic laws.

John Twomey, Deputy Commissioner Policing and Security, said there was "a high level of compliance" during the last operation.

"It is vital we see that again," he said.

"This is a critical week for the country. If we all work together, we can help save the lives of our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues."

The current restrictions are in place until May 5, with an announcement expected from government regarding any changes in the coming days.

The announcement of the mass garda operation is unlikely to be popular with a general public that appears to be growing frustrated with restrictions. At a government briefing, it was acknowledged there is a growing sense of frustration with the restrictions.

Concerns have also been raised by Ireland’’s human rights watchdog about the extended garda powers.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) said more information is required "to assess whether these new powers are being exercised proportionately, and whether they are being implemented in line with human rights and equality principles".

IHREC is to contact the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris seeking more detailed data on the implementation of the legislation and how it is impacting people.

Despite the additional gardaí on the beat, they will still be powerless to intervene in cases of people travelling from Northern Ireland to the Republic on day trips due to a loophole in the law.

Cormac Moylan, president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), said an all island approach is needed.

"We’’re unable to use these powers for people coming from Northern Ireland who are travelling beyond 2km from their place of residence,” Sgt Moylan told Newstalk Breakfast.

"But as the residence is not in this jurisdiction it creates an issue for the members - particularly in the border counties - in Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

"There is two jurisdictions on this island, but there is one virus. And this virus, it knows no boundaries - so I think there is a need for a kind of an all-island approach."

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