Written answers

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Department of Justice and Equality

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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36. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will set out the change in policing that has occurred since Ireland moved from level 5 to 3 of the Covid-19 restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41284/20]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including operational matters and the deployment of resources.  As Minister, I have no role in these matters.  I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps all operational deployments under continual review in the context of policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that following country’s move to Level 3 from 1st December 2020, An Garda Síochána is adapting its ongoing policing operation in support of the prevailing public health measures.

The focus of Garda operations reflects the guidelines and regulations in place from 1st December 2020 under Level 3 of the Government’s Living with COVID-19 plan.

Under Operation Fanacht, in excess of 100 checkpoints on main routes will be conducted on a daily basis, supported by a schedule of mobile checkpoints with a focus on the guidelines on inter-county travel. Static checkpoints will operate during off-peak hours – 10am to 4pm, and 7pm to 9pm. The fixed checkpoints on motorway/ dual carriageway routes will no longer be in place.

High visibility patrols will take place in key city, urban and retail locations in the run-up to Christmas. There will also be patrols that will focus on the night-time economy. On this, An Garda Síochána will be liaising closely with retail and licensed premises and checks on licensed premises under Operation Navigation will step back up again.

Community engagement activity will continue to focus on the vulnerable and those who feel isolated, particularly during Christmas time. There will also be continued active investigation of domestic abuse, as well as support for victims under Operation Faoiseamh

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, Gardaí will continue to use the 'Four E's' approach in line with their strong tradition of community policing and policing by consent. This sees Garda members Engage with, Encourage and Educate members of the public on public health advice and regulations with Enforcement used only as a last resort.

Both the Policing Authority and the Gardaí provide regular reports and updates of An Garda Síochána's efforts during this difficult time and I am pleased to note that both the Authority and the Commissioner have continued to note high levels of compliance by the public and positive interaction between Gardaí and communities.

As we move from level 5 to a modified level 3, we are all looking forward to having more scope to meet with others, to shop and to travel within the guidelines. But the virus does remain a threat and so we all must continue to play our part by heeding the public health advice. This is the best way of protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbours.


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