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Gardaí plan 'thousands' of Covid-19 checkpoints from tomorrow until after the Bank Holiday

Operation Fanacht is set to return after first being implement over the Easter weekend.

Gardai mount coronavirus checkpoints on the border with Northern Ireland at Carrickarnon, Co Louth
Gardai mount coronavirus checkpoints on the border with Northern Ireland at Carrickarnon, Co Louth
Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

Updated Apr 27th 2020, 3:37 PM

GARDAÍ ARE TO relaunch a major operation to ensure compliance with travel restrictions tomorrow until the end of the Bank Holiday weekend.  

The force first implemented Operation Fanacht for the Easter weekend and used the new Covid-19 powers available to gardaí on seven occasions

An Garda Síochána said today that the operation is set to run again from 7am tomorrow until Monday night on 4 May.  

Gardaí say the operation will involve”large-scale checkpoints on many main routes and thousands of mobile checkpoints on secondary routes”, with over 2,500 gardaí involved at any one time. 

The operation will also see gardaí conduct high-visibility patrols at major tourist locations, parks and natural beauty spots to ensure compliance with restrictions.

“When we last ran Operation Fanacht there was a high level of compliance from the public. It is vital that we see that again,” Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said this afternoon. 

I want to thank the public for their co-operation so far. We know it has not been easy and has required significant sacrifices. We need this compliance to continue. This is a critical week for the country. If we all work together, we can help save the lives of our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

 

Cross border

The relaunch of Operation Fanacht comes as the group that represents garda sergeants and inspectors has called for an all-Ireland approach when it comes to policing during the pandemic.

A loophole in the law means travel curbs do not apply to those living outside the Republic of Ireland’s legal jurisdiction.

It means people from Northern Ireland who travel to the Republic on day trips cannot be arrested there due to a gap in the Covid-19 legislation.

The president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), Cormac Moylan, told Newstalk FM the discrepancy is causing concern for the force and called for an “all-island approach” to policing.

“There is two jurisdictions on this island, but there is one virus. This virus knows no boundaries – so I think there is a need for a kind of all-island approach,” he said.

“We would love to see that we would have something in place that would give people a little bit more sure-footedness on this issue.

“We’re unable to use these powers for people coming from Northern Ireland who are travelling beyond 2km from their place of residence.”

Moylan said the issue is of particular concern in the border region.

“As the residence is not in this jurisdiction it creates an issue for the members – particularly in the border counties like Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth,” he said.

As it stands we can’t return visitors from Northern Ireland back across the border, this may change before the weekend.

“But the concept that’s being used on the ground – and it’s being used across the border as well – is a concept of engage, explain, encourage and enforce.

“An odd time we have to get into the explain concept and encourage concept, not that often.

“But when you try to explain to somebody and you appeal to their better instincts in relation to the risks – that is where most of it is at.”

- With reporting by Press Association 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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