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Dublin: 19 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020

Gardai did not arrest anyone for breaching Covid-19 restrictions in past seven days

Gardai said there have been 121 incidents of spitting or coughing against officers.


GARDAÍ DID NOT arrest anyone for breaching Covid-19 restrictions in the last week of June.

Gardai have arrested or taken the details of people suspected of breaching the regulations on 320 occasions since laws were introduced in response to the pandemic in April,  an increase of seven since last week’s update.

However, none of the incidents took place over the last week, with seven other new records relating to previous weeks.

Three weeks ago, gardai lost the power to enforce coronavirus movement restrictions, meaning that even though people are meant to travel only within their county or 20km from their home, they cannot be arrested for breaching these limits.

Since Monday, the travel restriction lifted and people are free to travel beyond the 20km limit.

The Garda must seek permission from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to bring charges in relation to the emergency legislation, introduced back in April at the height of the pandemic.

The DPP has to date directed charges in relation to 110 incidents.

Most incidents involve a single individual but some have resulted in charges against multiple people.

No charge was directed in relation to 29 incidents.

Gardai reported 21 incidents of spitting or coughing against officers.

Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey condemned the incidents.

He said: “Gardaí continue to be subject of disgusting and despicable spitting and coughing attacks.

“This remains a serious concern for the organisation.

“These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment.

“We must protect them from such attacks.

“This includes having the option of using anti-spit guards in very limited circumstances.

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“We have made it clear these anti-spit guards are only to be used as last resort and in line with the Garda Decision Making Model, which includes at its centre human rights and our Code of Ethics.”

Twomey said anti-spit guards provide an additional tactical option to be considered by gardai, 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”.

Twomey said the number of incidents involving other suspected crimes continues to far exceed the number of cases involving only breaches of Government restrictions.

“There has been very good compliance with the public health guidelines to date.

“As we enter phase three it still remains important for people to continue to heed public health advice to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

He said gardai will continue to operate as a community-based policing service with a focus on protecting the vulnerable.

“This approach will not change during this phase,” he added.

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