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AGSI boss surprised to hear about Garda role in hotel quarantine - as Cabinet yet to sign off on Bill

The Cabinet is yet to sign off on mandatory hotel quarantine for some travellers arriving in Ireland.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

PRESIDENT OF the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has said the first she heard about the role gardaí will play in enforcing mandatory quarantine for passengers arriving into Ireland was when the minister appeared on television last night. 

The AGSI states that it still hasn’t received operational guidance on the new proposed legislation.

Speaking on Virgin Media’s Tonight Show, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said “they will be checking up on these facilities, but they won’t be manning them”. 

The Cabinet is yet to sign off on mandatory hotel quarantine for some travellers arriving in Ireland.

The Bill is understood not to have been fully ready for Cabinet yesterday, and there was some “fine tuning” needed to the legislation. 

It was expected the new laws would be signed off on this morning, but it is now expected to be this afternoon. 

The legislation sets out that those arriving in from a list of 20 category 2 countries will have to mandatory quarantine at designated hotels for up to 14 days.

Those arriving into Ireland without a negative PCR test will also have to do so. 

It is understood that private security staff will manage the hotel system, with the defence forces also playing a role. 

Speaking on TV last night, the minister said gardaí are already working at the airport, and checking that people are compliant with Covid-19 regulations.

However, the minister confirmed gardaí will not be manning the hotels.

She said where there is a public order incident or where someone tries to leave the facility, it will only be then that the person will have committed a crime.

“If someone were to leave it would be a criminal offence,” she said.

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It would only be then that the gardaí would be able to “arrest and bring charges and bring them back to facility”, she said. 

“If there is a public order incident they will be there. They will be checking up on these facilities but they wont be manning them,” she said.

Reacting to the minister, AGSI boss Antoinette Cunningham tweeted her surprise, stating that the AGSI will await the details, indicating that there has been no consultation with her members on the matter. 

The final costs of the programme have yet to be finalised by officials, but it is expected the cost for the 14-day stay could be around €2,000.

Legislation is expected to be brought before the Dail and the Seanad next week, but the law is not expected to be in place for another two to three weeks.

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