'Imperative' gardaí are vaccinated as soon as possible, garda union says

Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors and GRA call for gardaí to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination
'Imperative' gardaí are vaccinated as soon as possible, garda union says

Antoinette Cunningham said the risk of exposure to coronavirus was higher for members of the force. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Antoinette Cunningham and GRA president Frank Thornton have called for gardaí to be prioritised for vaccination on the list of essential workers.

Ms Cunningham told RTÉ radio's Today show that the risk of exposure to the virus was higher for members of the force. 

Gardaí were needed to implement the restrictions, such work could not be done without them to impose the rule of law, she said.

Her members did not need to experience mass exposure and she had heard of increased numbers within the force who had Covid and others who had to self-isolate because they were contacts.

It was critical that gardaí be available to handle the pandemic, she added.

GRA president Frank Thornton also called for gardaí to be among the high-priority groups for Covid-19 vaccination.

Mr Thornton said: “The GRA is receiving numerous reports of gardaí who have contracted the virus or are self-isolating in the past week which shows the danger of infection for gardaí as frontline workers in the battle against Covid-19 must be recognised by policymakers.

Gardaí have been to the fore in the national effort to suppress the virus from the onset of the outbreak and the level of infections and self-isolation is sky-rocketing.

“This shows the increased danger of exposure faced by our members and their families. It also points to the risk of resources being stretched at a time when the need for gardaí to police the pandemic has increased.

Mr Thornton said: “With plans to vaccinate up to 135,000 people by the end of February, and a month-long lag in full efficacy, it is imperative that frontline gardaí are given the protection of the vaccine as soon as possible.

“Early vaccination will reduce the numbers of gardaí forced to isolate and ensure they remain available to protect communities around the country. It will also fulfil the employer duty of care to our members as working people.”

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