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Gardaí have used Covid-19 powers 241 times since early April

There have been 70 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against members of gardaí.

Gardaí conducting a checkpoint earlier this month.
Gardaí conducting a checkpoint earlier this month.
Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

GARDAÍ HAVE USED new Covid-19 powers 241 times since they were brought in last month. 

Officers said that the incidents referred to occurred from 8 April, which was when the regulations came into effect, until 16 May.

These include both arrests and times where name and address details were taken for consultation with the DPP on the decision to issue charges.

There have been 70 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against members of gardaí and anti-spit hoods had to be deployed 57 times.

These hoods, gardaí say, provide “an additional tactical option to be considered by a Garda, as a last resort in a continuum of graduated response, in circumstances where there is clear evidence of spitting now or where a member believes there is a clear and tangible threat of spitting posed by the subject”.

The garda policy and use of anti-spit guards will be reviewed by management in September 2020.

Those who were arrested or had details taken received a number of warnings before the new powers were used, gardaí said.

In addition, pre-existing laws were used in 1,621 incidents where other offences were detected in the course of Covid-19 operations. These range from incidents such as drink driving or disqualified drivers detected at checkpoints, to drugs and weapons seizures.

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Commissioner Drew Harris said: “There has been a high level of compliance with the public health guidelines to date. I want to thank the public for that. But, from this week, the country is entering another critical phase. It is vital that we all continue to play our part in reducing the spreading of Covid-19 by adhering to the updated public health guidelines.

“Regrettably, these reprehensible spitting and coughing attacks on our personnel continue. These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment. We must protect them from such attacks.”

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