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Government seeks advice from Attorney General over new garda laws

Gardaí will be given greater ability to police new public health measures.

Image: Leah Farrell

THE GOVERNMENT HAS sought advice from the Attorney General over increased garda enforcement powers as part of new Covid-19 health measures.

Yesterday, the government released details of further public health measures aimed to reduce Ireland’s instance rate of Covid-19.

As part of this, Micheál Martin said the government is “considering” legislating to give increased powers to gardaí and other agencies to enforce the new measures. 

The exact nature of this is still being finalised but the Taoiseach said they could include powers for gardaí to close pubs.

“We do need immediate sanctions where there’s a clear breach of the public health measures because that clearly has a ripple effect across the wider community,” Martin said.

The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said this will require legislation but that the “timing has not been worked out” in terms of when this legislation would take effect. 

Donnelly said he is working with Justice Minister Helen McEntee on the exact nature of the increased powers. 

The Attorney General, Paul Gallagher, has also been contacted in relation to the legislation. 

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“The decision we have taken is to say in cases like this or in cases where we have bars that are clearly just not obeying the same guidelines that the vast majority of the country obey, we are moving from recommendation and guidelines to enforcement powers,” Minister Donnelly said on RTÉ’s Prime Time programme last night.    

The minister said the government is implementing the new public health measures “essentially to avoid” another national lockdown in the future.   

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