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People asked to stay home this St Patrick's Day as 2,500 gardaí to be on duty nationwide

Gardaí are asking people to avoid large gatherings tomorrow.

File photo - Gardaí carrying out checkpoints on the M1
File photo - Gardaí carrying out checkpoints on the M1
Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

Updated Mar 16th 2021, 2:20 PM

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA is asking people to stay at home this St Patrick’s Day as 2,500 gardaí are to be deployed across the country. 

Gardaí will tomorrow be carrying out checkpoints focused on non-essential travel, patrolling at public amenities, road safety activity, managing any large gatherings that may occur and providing support for the vulnerable, including victims of domestic violence. 

Multiple protest events are being planned on social media in different locations in Dublin city centre, which will require a significant policing operation, gardaí have said.

An Garda Síochána is advising the public to refrain from any non-essential journeys to the city centre on the day as restrictions and cordons will be in place that may hinder easy movement around the city.

An Garda Síochána will be deploying a large number of Garda personnel supported by national units such as the dog unit, the mounted unit, air support, and public order.

In addition, checkpoints will be in place on arterial routes into the city and checks will be conducted on public transport over the course of St Patrick’s Day.

In line with public health advice, in the first instance, An Garda Síochána is asking people not to organise or attend such protests.

In all its engagement with the public, as has been the case during the pandemic, An Garda Síochána will continue to use its 4Es approach – engaging, explaining, and encouraging with enforcement a last resort.

“While it won’t be a normal St Patrick’s Day, we can still all enjoy the day safely at home,” Deputy Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon said. 

“Staying at home this St Patrick’s Day is the best thing people can do for their country and the best thing they can do for the people they know and love,” she said. 

Echoing these comments, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris urged people not to jeopardise the progress that has been made by celebrating St Patrick’s Day by gathering together, as it could lead to delays in reopening the country.

“What I would suggest tomorrow – the most patriotic thing people can actually do in terms of our national battle against Covid-19 is stick to the public health advice,” Harris said. 

“Because in about two weeks’ time the government wants to be able to sit down with our public health experts and work out what the next few weeks look like and we desperately want to be able to see some of the harshest restrictions eased,” he said. 

“Particularly, and I don’t want to exceed expectations here, but particularly things like the 5km, which is really punitive and really difficult for people.”

5km restrictions

Gardaí is advising the public of the need to plan their activities tomorrow and to take account that people are only allowed to exercise within 5km of their home. 

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People are reminded that the 5km limit includes the distance travelled from their home to a location for exercise. 

Gardaí said people should be aware that if a driver is found to be in breach of the non-essential travel regulations that not only can the driver be fined, but their adult passengers, too. This is also the case for adults in groups undertaking activities such as cycling or walking – every adult in such a group can be fined.

People who are visiting amenities within 5km of their home are being asked to park legally. Illegal parking can hinder access by emergency services and could put lives at risk, gardaí said. 

An Garda Síochána is also reminding people subject to domestic violence that travel restrictions don’t apply in the case of domestic violence or to escape a risk of harm, whether to the person or to another person. 

An Garda Síochána is appealing to any person who may have been the victim of an incident of sexual or domestic crime irrespective of whether they may have been in breach of any public health regulations, for instance by attending a house party, to report such incidents.

Gardaí have also confirmed that, to date, over 2,100 fines have been issued to date for organising or attending a house party. 

As of 12 March, An Garda Síochána had issued 429 fines worth €500 for organising a house party and 1,677 fines worth €150 for attending a house party. 

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