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132 daily checkpoints on main roads - but no extra powers for gardaí to enforce Level 3 restrictions

The GRA president said ‘stricter enforcement of restrictions’ will increase pressure for gardaí.

Updated Oct 6th 2020, 7:48 PM

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO help gardaí police Level 3 restrictions “must be enough” to account for the extra work required, the GRA president has said following details of Operation Fanacht.

There will be fixed garda checkpoints at 132 arterial roads across the country each day from when Level 3 restrictions begin tonight. 

The gardaí will be visible on road and checkpoints under Operation Fanacht.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) president Jim Mulligan said he welcomes the government’s commitment to provide extra resources for this policing, but added they “must be enough” to account for the additional work required. 

He said police work at the moment is “closer to normality” compared to the situation in March so “stricter enforcement of restrictions will create an added pressure on our members”. 

Mulligan added that carrying out police work during the pandemic has been based on a “cooperative spirit” between gardaí and the public. 

“We expect that will continue but it is crucial that the message from government around the new restrictions is clear and unambiguous for the public and the business community,” he said. 

At a press conference this afternoon, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed that the gardaí will not have any new powers to restrict people’s movements.

When asked about whether there is confusion about Level 3, he told reporters: “I don’t think there’s any confusion in the message about what Level 3 is, what I’m saying today is Level 3 for us means the following actions. Part of that then are our checkpoints out on the roads.”

He added: “People will not be able to travel around the country. You will be restricted to your county, you should only go to your workplace if absolutely necessary, otherwise your journeys are going to be extremely difficult.”

Harris noted that gardaí “have plenty of policing powers” to maintain policing and fight crime.

The gardaí are re-commencing the operation from midnight tonight. Measures will be focused on supporting public compliance with public health measures. 

There will be high visibility patrolling by gardaí across Ireland focused on helping people adhere to public health measures. 

There will also be thousands of mobile checkpoints on secondary routes in towns and villages each week.

Speaking today, Harris said: “An Garda Síochána’s priority is keeping people safe. This will be a major policing operation across the country with high visibility of Garda members to support public health measures. 

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“An Garda Síochána is encouraging people not to travel out of their county unless it is for essential purposes,” he said. 

Harris said gardaí want to avoid the issue of “squinting windows” where people are informing gardaí of their neighbours flouting public health guidance. 

However, the commissioner added that people should contact gardaí if they see something they are worried about. 

On RTÉ News at One, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that under Level 3 it will be an offence to organise an event, and that other pre-existing legislation will support garda policing efforts. 

McEntee said that the garda approach will continue to be “engage, educate, encourage, and enforce”.

- Additional reporting by Aoife Barry

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