At the outset I wish to emphasise that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána and its operations, including the use of protective equipment. As Minister, I have no role in these matters.
As the Deputy may be aware, An Garda Síochána is currently conducting a review of the use of anti-spit hoods, which is expected to be completed in the coming weeks. I am looking forward to receiving the results of this review, and to the further discussions that will take place over the use of anti-spit hoods on foot of its recommendations. These discussions will involve both An Garda Síochána, the Policing Authority and all the other relevant bodies.
With regard to the small number of instances where anti-spit guards have been used during the Covid-19 emergency, I fully appreciate the concerns that have been raised in this regard. However, it is important to note that the deployment of this equipment has been limited, and that there are clear safeguards and monitoring in place, including through the oversight of Garda use by the Policing Authority in regular published reporting.