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High level of compliance with coronavirus lockdown laws – gardai

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said emergency powers had been invoked 139 times since April 8.

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Gardai mount coronavirus checkpoints at junction 7 on the M1 motorway near Bettystown in Co Meath (PA)

Gardai mount coronavirus checkpoints at junction 7 on the M1 motorway near Bettystown in Co Meath (PA)

Gardai mount coronavirus checkpoints at junction 7 on the M1 motorway near Bettystown in Co Meath (PA)

Gardai have seen a high level of compliance with coronavirus lockdown measures at many checkpoints across the country.

A large number of garda checkpoints have been set up at tourist locations, beauty spots, and parks and beaches in recent days.

Gardai said they spoke to hundreds of thousands of people, with the vast majority adhering to public health guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The compliance rate was sampled at four of the larger checkpoints on Friday, May 1 – one in each garda region.

Those who were stopped at checkpoints were either already in compliance with the guidelines or agreed to turn around and go home when requested.

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(PA)

(PA)

Press Association Images

(PA)

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) technology was used to calculate the exact number of vehicles passing through the checkpoints.

It reported that 21 of the 13,324 car drivers checked – 0.16% – were asked to turn around for not having a valid reason for travel and all agreed to do so.

A small minority of cases across the country were not willing to take steps to comply with the public health guidelines and regulations.

From April 8 until May 2, gardai have invoked the emergency powers 139 times.

These include both arrests and incidents without arrest where name and address details were taken for consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on any decision to issue charges.

Of the 139 incidents, two were as a result of an instruction from a relevant medical professional.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: “The continued high level of compliance with the health guidelines is very welcome and we thank the public for it.

“Both the low level of ‘turn-backs’ at major checkpoints and the very small usage of the regulations compared to the huge number of interactions we have had with people show that the vast majority of people are playing their part in tackling Covid-19.

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Vehicles stop at a Garda checkpoint in Dublin’s city centre (PA)

Vehicles stop at a Garda checkpoint in Dublin’s city centre (PA)

PA

Vehicles stop at a Garda checkpoint in Dublin’s city centre (PA)

“At the outset of the Covid-19 situation, I said that An Garda Siochana will continue to operate as a community-based policing service with a focus on protecting the vulnerable.

“This approach will not change.”

Garda gave one example of a man questioned in Dublin who told gardai he was travelling to do a painting job in Co Meath.

He told gardai he “did not care about restrictions as it has not affected him or anybody he knows”.

The man also said he would not be adhering to restrictions from “a non-elected government” and that he would continue to work.

The man was told to return home, however he refused and travelled on to Co Meath.

A file has been submitted to the DPP.

From April 8 until May 2, there were 52 incidents of spitting and/or coughing at garda members.

Within the same date range, gardai had to use anti-spit guards 28 times.

Mr Harris said: “Regrettably, we continue to see spitting and coughing attacks on our personnel.

“These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment. We must protect them from such disgraceful attacks.

“This includes having the option of using anti-spit guards in very limited circumstances. We have made it clear these anti-spit guards are only to be used as last resort and in line with the Garda decision making model, which includes at its centre human rights and our code of ethics.”

PA