GRA: Gardaí must be vaccinated to police quarantine measures

GRA assistant general secretary Dermot O’Brien said gardaí also want a clear plan for policing the border as it is an “unrealistic expectation” to police the 300 plus border crossings.
GRA: Gardaí must be vaccinated to police quarantine measures

A garda Covid-19 checkpoint at Ovens, Co Cork. Picture Denis Minihane.

The Garda Representative Association has called for gardaí to be vaccinated if they are going to police the new quarantine proposals.

GRA assistant general secretary Dermot O’Brien said gardaí also want a clear plan for policing the border as it is an “unrealistic expectation” to police the 300 plus border crossings.

Too often the Government announced measures without considering the practicalities, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

The legislation covers the ability to stop motorists and determine if they are outside their 5km. Failure to comply is an offence, he said “but we don’t want to be clogging up the garda stations with people coming from Belfast and going to Dublin.” 

If people do not have “a reasonable excuse” gardaí will turn them back, he added

On the issue of home quarantining, Mr O’Brien asked how gardaí could prove people are not observing the rules. “Legislation allows us to check on people at their front door,” but there are no powers to go inside and check on them.

The first people that travellers arriving into the country meet will be gardaí at passport control in the airport, which puts them at risk so they should be vaccinated, he said.

Similarly, in hotels where people are being quarantined, gardaí will be expected to police such venues which will mean they are being exposed to the virus.

Earlier, public health specialist Dr Gabriel Scally told Newstalk Breakfast the only way to introduce quarantine measures is to do it “properly.” 

He said the border cannot be half sealed and quarantine cannot be half implemented.

Dr Scally said it is “good to see some movement” on the issue of quarantine, but he does not think it is possible to determine from where exactly people arriving into the country had come.

They could get to Ireland by boat or plane and could change mode of transport along the way. “The only way to do it is to do it properly.” 

Dr Scally said putting people into hotels to quarantine is a good idea, there should be no exceptions, but how is that going to be policed? People in quarantine might mix with each other or with staff when they should be in complete isolation. It wouldn’t be long until such hotels became super spreader venues, he warned.

It is also not appropriate for people to be released from quarantine if they have a negative test after five days.

Dr Scally called on politicians, north and south, to “stop the bickering” and sit down and “sort it (border) out.” 

He said he has been “extraordinarily disappointed” with the behaviour of the politicians on both sides of the border. 

“There’s a job to do, let’s do it together.” 

There is huge public support, north and south, for tighter restrictions for incoming cases which would require “a whole range” of public health measures, he said.

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