Gardai have said they were forced to use the new powers given to them to tackle the coronavirus crisis on seven different occasions over the Easter weekend as part of Operation Fanacht.
Operation Fanacht was a major operation to ensure public compliance with the travel restrictions introduced recently as part of Covid-19 public health guidelines. The Operation ran from Wednesday, April 8 at 12noon until Monday night, April 13.
Every day of Operation Fanacht, An Garda Síochána conducted 150 permanent checkpoints on major routes, over 500 shorter and mobile checkpoints, as well as a large number of high visibility patrols at tourist locations, natural beauty spots, and 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.
In a small number of cases, despite receiving a number of warnings, some individuals did not adhere to the guidelines and the regulations were used under the Health Act 1947- Section 31A- Temporary Restrictions (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 in seven cases.
As per Garda policy in relation to the regulations, in all cases where arrests were made under the regulations, Garda members will consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the decision to charge individuals.
In addition, there were 144 Covid-19 related incidents that started as potential breaches of the regulations, but during the incidents other offences were disclosed. As such, long-standing legislation for offences such as public order, assault, road traffic, and drugs was used instead. This included incidents involving house / street parties, gatherings beyond the family unit, and non-essential travel.
"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,” added Commissioner Harris.
Operation Fanacht also had the consequence of improving road safety and there were a number of detections across the weekend in areas such as speeding and drug/drink driving.