Drew Harris: ‘A small minority did not adhere to the guidelines’ 

Gardaí make seven arrests under coronavirus emergency legislation 
 
Gardaí made seven arrests over the long weekend under new legislation introduced to stem the spread of coronavirus. 
It said these arrests were made when people repeatedly refused to comply with garda directions to abide by the movement restrictions which prohibit unnecessary travel and exercise further than 2km from the home. 
 
In addition there were 144 incidents where gardaí enforcing the coronavirus restrictions instead made arrests under other, long standing legislation. These incidents include arrests for public order breaches, assault, road traffic offences and drug offences. The arrests were made at house parties and street gatherings and where gardaí found people engaged in non-essential travel. 
 
As part of Operation Fanacht, which was launched last week amid fears the good weather would prompt large crowds to travel over the Easter weekend, gardaí operated 150 permanent checkpoints on major routes every day and another 500 mobile checkpoints on secondary roads . 
 
They also mounted a large number of high visibility patrols at tourist locations, natural beauty spots, parks and beaches. 
 
“During this time, Garda members interacted with hundreds of thousands of people. The vast majority were adhering to the public health guidelines,” a spokesman said. 
 
“There was a very high level of compliance with the public health guidelines over the Easter weekend. I want to thank the public for that. This has helped saved lives. We now need people to continue that high level of compliance over the coming weeks. Working together we can reduce the spread of Covid-19,” said Commissioner Drew Harris. 
 
“Regrettably, there was a small minority who did not adhere to the guidelines or other legislation and Garda members had no option but to use the regulations or other legislation. This demonstrates the need for the regulations not only from an enforcement point of view, but also to support those who are willingly living their lives in line with the public health guidelines.” 
 
Gardaí were instructed to use a four-step graduated response to those breaking the rules. Members were instructed to “engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.” 
 
The Director of Public Prosecutions must grant permission for charges to be brought against the seven people arrested. If convicted they face up to 6 months in prison and a maximum fine of €2,500. 
 
Gardaí said they also caught several people speeding and drink driving while manning Operation Fanacht checkpoints. 
 
The new Garda powers became law last Wednesday. There were originally set to expire on Sunday but a decision was made last Friday to keep them in place. The legislation granting gardaí the powers expires in November unless the Dáil agrees to extend it. 
 
The Garda will release figures on arrests under the legislation on a weekly basis. 
 
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