The restrictions being imposed to try to stop the spread of Covid-19 are “absolutely necessary” to protect human life, and more may be needed if the spread continues, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
Mr Varadkar was speaking at the graduation ceremony for more than 300 new gardai, who were sworn in on Friday to help respond to the Covid-19 crisis.
They will bring the Garda’s numbers to its highest level of almost 15,000.
Stronger Together - Standing Apart— Garda Info (@gardainfo) March 20, 2020
#SocialDistancing remains more important than ever and the only community response to #COVID-19 #SocialDistance #WashYourHands
Play your part now, retweet, implement. pic.twitter.com/iCXR7ZP7hm
They are moving to the frontline at an earlier point in their training than they would have anticipated, due to the current “unprecedented” circumstances, justice minister Charlie Flanagan said.
The ceremony was brief and gardai observed social distancing protocols. Unlike normal ceremonies, no families or friends were allowed to attend.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Varadkar said the restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19 are “absolutely necessary” to protect human life and health.
“I am absolutely certain they are necessary to protect human life, and I absolutely guarantee people that creating recessions is not something any government would ever want to do, other than it being necessary at this occasion to protect human health and human life.
“The question is really going to be if we are going to need to take additional measures in the weeks ahead, and we will have a better idea if that is going to be necessary at the end of the month.”
Fianna Fail justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said: “We need as many members of An Garda Siochana as possible on our streets tackling crime, and protecting our citizens.
Congratulations to all the 319 Gardai who were sworn in this morning in Templemore to help in our fight against #Covid19. You're playing your part in the national effort to #FlattenTheCurve pic.twitter.com/hzoukwTnsR— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) March 20, 2020
“A strengthened garda presence is critical for the safety of our communities during the current Covid-19 crisis.
“The newly attested gardai will play a vital role in the weeks ahead, assisting in a range of measures including supporting public services across the country.
“Extra members of the force are to be deployed around businesses such as supermarkets and pharmacies, to provide reassurance and support to business and the public.”