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Gardaí have used emergency Covid-19 powers in 192 incidents over the past month

There were also 64 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against members of An Garda Síochána.

Image: Sam Boal

ALMOST 200 INCIDENTS have been recorded where Covid-19 emergency powers were invoked by gardaí over the past month. 

Gardaí have invoked the regulations 192 times between 8 April, when the measures were signed into law, and 9 May.

These include both arrests and incidents without arrest where the name and address of individuals were taken for consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions on a decision to issue charges. 

The emergency legislation gives gardaí the power to arrest and detain – under the guidance of certain health professionals – those who are suspected as being sources of infection in the event that a person does not comply with the public health guidelines. 

In addition, pre-existing enforcement powers were used in 1,432 incidents where other offences were disclosed while gardaí were enforcing public health measures. 

These range from incidents such as drink driving or disqualified drivers detected at checkpoints, to drugs and weapons seizures, and public order offences.

A statement from gardaí said “the number of incidents involving other suspected crimes continues to far exceed the number of cases involving only breaches of Government restrictions”.

Spitting

In addition, there were 64 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against members of An Garda Síochána and between 8 April until 9 May 2020 inclusive, gardaí used anti-spit guards 47 times.

“Anti-spit guards provide an additional tactical option to be considered by a garda… 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 statement said. 

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that while the majority of the public has abided by public health advice, there remains a minority that continues to flout the regulations. 

“Unfortunately, we continue to see these disgusting and despicable spitting and coughing attacks on our personnel. These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment. We must protect them from such attacks,” he said. 

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

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