Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Questions (515)

Louise O'Reilly


515. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice if her attention has been drawn to the significant delays for essential service workers, including healthcare workers, getting to and from work due to Garda checkpoints checking for compliance with Covid-19 regulations, which are causing huge delays; and if her Department has spoken with the Minister for Health and the Garda Commissioner regarding possible other ways of ensuring compliance with the new restrictions which do not delay healthcare and essential service workers in their journeys to and from work. [31077/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that I am in regular contact with my Cabinet colleague, the Minister for Health, and the Garda Commissioner on all appropriate matters. The Deputy will also 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.

An Garda Síochána began implementation of the current phase of Operation Fanacht on 7 October 2020 as a high visibility nationwide operation in support of the Government’s decision to move the country to Level 3 of the National Framework for Living with COVID-19.

Under Operation Fanacht, An Garda Síochána has established a network of 132 large-scale checkpoints on main arterial routes. In support of these static checkpoints, An Garda Síochána has carried out hundreds of additional mobile checkpoints in town and villages across the country over the last number of days.

The Deputy will appreciate that these checkpoints are in place to support the public health guidelines in relation to travel restrictions. COVID-19 remains a real threat to all of us and in particular to our most vulnerable citizens. This is a critical time for our country and we all have a responsibility to comply with the public health guidelines and regulations for the good of everyone.

The Government would once again ask people to re-think their journeys and to not travel outside of their county unless it is for essential purposes. This is a public health regulation under Level 3 and it is An Garda Síochána’s function to check compliance as part of the national effort to reduce the spread of the pandemic.

The Deputy will appreciate that fewer journeys means fewer interactions means fewer COVID-19 infections. Suppressing the rate of infection will protect all of our citizens, not least those who are providing essential services such as healthcare workers and the women and men of An Garda Síochána.