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AGSI says no guidance given to frontline Gardaí over checks on mandatory quarantine

Antoinette Cunningham said her organisation has had no operational guidance, instructions or details on this matter.

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A GARDA REPRESENTATIVE has said frontline Gardaí have received no guidance around making sure that people are quarantining after arriving in Ireland. 

President of the Association of Garda Sergeants & Inspectors (AGSI) Antoinette Cunningham said her organisation has had no operational guidance, instructions or details on this matter. 

It comes after An Garda Síochána said members will be undertaking a series of house checks this weekend on people who have recently entered the State and who have been reported to them “as not engaging” with the Department of Health’s Covid-19 quarantine process for arrivals.

All passengers arriving into the Republic’s airports and ports from overseas must provide evidence on arrival of a negative PCR test carried out no more than 72 hours earlier.

A legal requirement to quarantine was also introduced for all such arrivals earlier this month. If a passenger arrives from one of 33 high-risk countries for Covid-19, they are subject to a 14-day quarantine at the address recorded on their passenger locator form regardless of the PCR test result.

For passengers arriving from all other countries, the quarantine period can finish earlier, if the passenger obtains a negative result in a Covid-19 PCR test taken no less than five days after arrival.

To date, detectives in the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) have already conducted house calls in relation to people who entered the State without the required Covid-19 PCR test result.

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week, Cunningham said “we have no operational guidance or instructions on matters like that.

And it certainly creates an unrealistic expectation to members of the public about exactly what we are doing. It makes people feel like the guards are actively out doing this.

“The Garda Representative Association (GRA) represent over 10,000 frontline gardaí, we represent over 2,500. Neither of our groups have had any operational guidance instructions or details on quarantining in houses.”

“Our members have no guidance, instructions or details on this. If f there are a small number of people attached to the immigration bureau doing that, that is as may be put for the majority of frontline gardaí…we have no operational guidance instructions or details on what that is, or what our requirements are in that regard.”

Cunningham said that if her organisation received  guidance to carry out these checks “of course we’d carry that out” but said “what we can’t do is enter a person’s home without legal authority to do that.”

She added that the AGSI has requested a meeting with Justice Minister Helen McEntee for several months to discuss this and other matters including clarity on when vaccination of frontline Gardaí will take place, particularly in light of yesterday’s anti-lockdown protest which Cunningham described as “truly unacceptable”. 

“We’ve always said that we wouldn’t have vaccination before the most vulnerable in our communities – healthcare workers, frontline healthcare staff.

“But I think yesterday showed the public at large, exactly the dangers of protests, of missiles, of people spitting, bottles of liquid, urine being slung at our members.”

Cunningham said “serious consideration” should be given to vaccinating Gardaí and called on McEntee to advocate on behalf of members. 

Speaking on the same programme, McEntee condemned yesterday’s protest but said “if we start to get caught up in what group, who was part of [it], we lose the fact that this was an illegal event”. 

McEntee added that she would like to see Gardaí vaccinated as soon as possible but said it will likely not be until later in the spring. 

Her comments come after Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said there is no corroborated evidence that extreme left factions were engaged in yesterday’s anti-lockdown protest. 

Harris yesterday told RTÉ News that both far-right and far-left factions were involved in yesterday’s clashes which left several Gardaí injured. 

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In a statement this morning, Harris clarified: “The vast majority of those who took part belong to a number of factions including anti-vaccine, anti-mask and anti-lockdown protestors, far right groups, and those intent on trouble and disorder.

“Despite initial indications, following further investigation, there is no corroborated evidence of extreme left factions being involved.

“I also want to thank the public for the many messages of goodwill expressed towards members of An Garda Síochána who policed the protest and, in particular, towards those members who were injured.”

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