A garda checkpoint at Coonagh West PICTURE: Brendan Gleeson
With Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions now in place, gardai in Limerick and across the country have launched a major operation to ensure compliance and to assist vulnerable people in society.
Gardaí have announced they will be mounting extra checkpoints, running high visibility community patrols for the duration of the lockdown.
As part of the operation, training in the Garda College will be suspended for the next nine weeks except for specialist training activity relating to firearms and armed support.
A spokesperson for An Garda Siochana said this will enable the deployment of a significant number of personnel to front-line policing duties from November 2
- 125 attested Garda trainees currently undertaking phase one training in the Garda College
- 75 Garda trainees not attested undertaking phase one training
- 60 Gardaí working as tutors/instructors in the Garda College
In addition, gardai working n administrative roles will, where possible, be re-deployed to operational duties.
The 12-hour contingency roster, which was introduced in March, will also be extended until March 31. 2021
Overall, at any one time, there will be over 2,500 Gardaí on duty, with the primary focus being on checkpoints and high visibility patrolling in support of Level 5 compliance - particularly the 5km travel restrictions.
The presence on the roads will be evident from this Thursday as dozens of static and rolling checkpoints which were rolled out as part of Operation Fanacht will continue seven days a week.
In addition to checkpoints on roads, there will also be high visibility community engagement patrols by gardaí in parks, natural beauty spots and other public amenities.
"As has been done since the start of the pandemic, gardaí will continue to engage with the most vulnerable in society to provide them with the necessary supports," said a spokesperson who said ordinary policing duties will also continue.
"While the vast majority of gardaí will be focused on engaging with the public, national units in areas such as crime detection, armed support, national security, and organised crime, as well as divisional drug units, will continue to prevent and detect crime," he said.
In particular, the Garda National Protective Services Bureau and the Divisional Protective Service Units will continue to support victims of domestic abuse under Operation Faoiseamh which has seen an enhanced level of support, protection and reassurance being offered to victims of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the Government has approved the introduction of fines for some breaches of Covid regulations, gardai say they will continue to use the 4Es approach of engage, educate and encourage and only, where provided for and as a last resort, enforcement.
Commenting on the new operation, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said.
"There was very good compliance by the public with the travel restrictions when they were in place before. It is vital that we see that high level of compliance again this time. The public health advice is clear. This will help save lives. In particular, we would ask people to think about their journeys and not exercise or travel outside the 5km limit unless it meets the essential criteria."
Commissioner Harris added: "An Garda Síochána is continuing with our graduated response based on our tradition of policing by consent. This is a difficult time for everybody, but if we all work together we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our families, friends and neighbours,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said gardaí will be there to help over the next six weeks.
"Throughout the pandemic, gardaí nationwide have been helping the vulnerable and those who feel isolated. Gardaí have collected prescriptions, delivered pensions, and had socially distanced contacts. If people need such assistance or know someone who does, please contact your local Garda station. We are here to help,” he said.