169 gardaí across all Cork divisions off work due to Covid

Garda absences from work due to Covid-19 have become “a very big problem”, according to the Garda Representative Association.
169 gardaí across all Cork divisions off work due to Covid

Gardaí on checkpoint duty on the N71 near the Viaduct making sure drivers are in compliance with the Covid-19 restrictions. Picture: Dan Linehan

A total of 169 gardaí of all ranks were off work due to Covid-19 across Cork’s three Garda divisions this week, according to Garda Representative Association estimates.

Some 43 gardaí in Cork tested positive for the virus on Thursday, the union said.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris decided on Friday to extend the garda contingency roster, which was introduced to cope with the pandemic, by more than three months until the end of June as the pandemic rages on.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. File picture

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. File picture

The ‘Covid roster’, which has gardaí working 12-hour shifts, is significantly more expensive for the State to fund. It was due to end in March.

Garda concerns about contracting Covid-19 are escalating, with no vaccination dates set, while garda absences from work due to Covid-19 have become “a very big problem”, according to the GRA.

Some 750 gardaí around the country were off work last week due to Covid-19 — 100 of whom tested positive for the virus, according to “conservative” figures from the GRA.

GRA president Frank Thornton said that gardaí should be among the high-priority groups for Covid-19 vaccination.

“At least a thousand members have self-isolated since Christmas and the number of confirmed infections is in treble figures,” said Mr Thornton.

"Our work exposes not just members, but their colleagues and their families.

Members of the public need to be reassured when they engage with members of An Garda Siochána that they are vaccinated and not potential super-spreaders. 

"We help engage with the public daily. We recognise that the medically vulnerable and frontline health workers are a top priority, but with a month-long lag in the vaccine's full efficacy, it is imperative that frontline gardaí are given the protection of the vaccine as soon as possible for the sake of the public, as well as for the sake of themselves as workers."

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said that queries in relation to Covid-19 vaccines are a matter for the Department of Health, but that absences due to Covid-19 have not yet compromised “effective operational resilience”. 

 “An Garda Síochána maintains effective operational resilience,” said a spokesperson.

“Covid-19 has not impacted on front line Garda services at this time, although the current impact of Covid-19 is more significant at this time.”

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