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'We want to be clear with people what is expected': Garda commissioner describes Covid-19 policing operation

Thousands of gardaí are out on foot, bike and in patrol cars this weekend.

Commissioner Drew Harris.
Commissioner Drew Harris.
Image: Sam Boal

GARDA COMMISSIONER DREW Harris has said thousands of gardaí are out in force this weekend to stop people congregating and “making sure their journey is essential”. 

Harris was speaking to reporters this morning as a policing operation designed to combat gatherings of people in public places got underway last night. 

It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced greater restrictions on members of the public gathering with anyone outside of their own home and travelling further than 2km from their homes for non-essential reasons. 

“[We] will stop individuals and making sure their journey is essential,” Harris said this morning. 

“We will have to obviously apply discretion on that. If an essential worker has got their ID and some form of description of what their work is and we can examine at the roadside, then that’s fine. 

“But we will want to be, as the days go on, we want to be clearer and clearer with people what is expected. There are a large set of essential workers in this country, imagine all sorts  of emergency workers beyond ourselves and the other emergency services but the food supply industry and other workers who are providing essential services. 

“So there will still be a lot of people moving to work and it’s just how we manage that then in conjunction with Government regulations and Government direction.”

Gardaí are putting out high visibility patrols all weekend, beginning at 7pm last night and continuing until 7am on Monday morning to ensure gatherings are not happening. 

They say this is an operation for the weekend and that thousands of gardaí will be out on foot, by bike and in cars, but that ramped up policing of the Covid-19 measures announced by Government will continue for the coming weeks. 

“An Garda Síochána asks people and families to continue to be responsible, not to attend popular locations for overly long periods and where the numbers of persons starts to increase at any location to leave such areas,” a garda statement said. 

Deputy Commissioner of Policing and Security, John Twomey said, “These high visibility patrols are to provide re-assurance and social distancing advice to the public.  

“Garda members will pro-actively engage positively with people. An Garda Síochána will police as it has always done with the consent of the people. It is in everybody’s interest that people comply with these measures.”

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