New Garda Powers And Your Movement [Updated]

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Regulations signed by Minister for Health Simon Harris

In the last few moments.

The regulations signed by the Minister for Health Simon Harris last night, giving effect to extraordinary Garda powers this weekend, have been posted on the Department of Health’s website.

They can be downloaded here.

More as we get it.

EARLIER:

From top: a Garda checkpoint in Phoenix Park this morningGarda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan;

This morning.

The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan spoke to RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke in light of new regulations coming into force at midnight which have enabled gardai to punish people who fail to heed Covid-19 restrictions. The legislation was signed into law two weeks ago.

Breaches of the restrictions could result in fines of up to €2,500 and six months in prison.

It followed the Minister for Health Simon Harris telling RTÉ’s Prime Time last night that, after the current affairs programme, he would sign the regulations to ensure gardai had the powers “in their back pocket” should they be needed.

Mr Harris’ appearance on RTÉ followed a meeting he held with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mr Flanagan, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, Attorney General Séamus Woulfe and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan earlier in the evening.

The regulations have yet to be published.

This morning’s interview by Seán O’Rourke focused on people who may wish to travel to their holiday homes this weekend.

Seán O’Rourke: “First of all, why the delay, why has it taken so long to get these regulations signed? I mean the Commissioner was on I think This Week, 12 days ago or thereabouts, saying they were going to come on very quickly?”

Charlie Flanagan: “These regulations were complex, they had to be very carefully legally drafted and of course people had to be consulted. Can I thank you, Seán, for having me on the show. And can I thank, through you, the people of Ireland, for their compliance and their forbearance. This is the fourth week now of these stringent, emergency measures. We’re not there yet.

“We still, unfortunately, have cases increasing. We still unfortunately have deaths increasing. We’ve some of the way to go yet. And that’s why we have these emergency regulations now being brought into force.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah. The, just can you clarify. There was mention there by [former Attorney General, former Minister for Justice, former Tánaiste and Senior Counsel] Michael McDowell and indeed I think by [former Garda …] John O’Brien, they’re in existence only until Easter Sunday. That’s a four-day period. Now, OK, they can be re-introduced but why is it such a short span?”

Flanagan: “Well I didn’t listen to all of the texts and calls to your show so far. But it seems to me that the trend is from holiday villages, from scenic areas, from places where tourists frequent and there is a concern therefore, a concern that I share, that compliance may be difficult to sustain now over the coming days with particular reference to the holiday period, the fine weather, the fact that some people maybe coming a little complacent now that we’re into the fourth week.

“So it’s important therefore that the gardai have clarity as to the regulatory arrangements and another reason why Minister Harris signed these regulations into law last night.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, can I just clarify one thing. A question put forward, and a good one as well, by one our listeners. Can the gardai knock at the doors of holiday homes and send the people there back to their main residences? That’s from Martha in Cork.”

Flanagan: “Yes, my understanding is that regulations can be enforced in terms of movements. And there is quite an array of restrictions on movement that everybody in the country is aware of and that 99.9% of the people of the country have ben fully compliant with. So yes, there’s a restriction on movement, on people who do breach that restriction, can be ordered home and also, of course, the restriction on events in terms of gathering of people in numbers.”

O’Rourke: “So if you’re in a house other than your own, by definition, you have moved there so you can be asked to return to your regular residence. Is that allowed for?”

Flanagan: “Yes, people may well be required to stay at home. They may well be impeded in their travel. You know, the holiday weekend car, with the roof box and the bucket and spades in the back, the gardai will be mounting some checkpoints. I understand the Garda Commissioner will be holding a press briefing later on this morning but he will also be impressing, as I am now, that there is no change in the Garda strategy.

“What the gardai will continue to do is engage and encourage and explain and assist people. But if there are one or two people, or a very small number of people who wish to deliberately flout the regulations and thereby endanger the public health of people, well then the law will be there as a recourse but as a last recourse for the Garda Síochána.”

Later

O’Rourke: “There’s a report today suggesting that one of the reasons it took so long for the regulations to emerge, and also why they are on such a short time-limit, is because some of your colleagues felt that they really were a step too far?”

Flanagan: “Well, they are a last resort. They do comprise restrictions on liberty of a type that we haven’t seen before. But they do amount to a response to the emergency situation that we are now in. As I said to you earlier, Seán, the vast majority of people in the country have absolutely nothing to fear here. The vast majority of people have been most compliant with the advice of Dr Tony Holohan which has been put into legal effect in terms of guidelines and regulations by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health.

“What we’re saying is that we want this to continue because we want to continue to flatten the curve and save lives. And also ensure, in the meantime, that our health service is in a position to cope.”

Later

O’Rourke: “I suppose, again, people will be wondering, as they inevitably do, you know, how they can work their way around, find a loophole in the regulations and so forth. I mean like how it will work in practice, for instance, if somebody is stopped by a garda and they say ‘guard, look I’m going to the pharmacy for medicine’. You know the guard will presumably have to take them at their word?”

Flanagan: “Well, there will be an element of discretion on the part of the gardai. But each case will be judged on its own merits and the member of the Garda Síochána will be in a position to make inquiries and will be in a position to draw inferences from the circumstances of the, of the conversation with the individual involved.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Locking Down Our Civil Liberties

Rollingnews

UPDATE:

Meanwhile, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has released a statement, calling for the extraordinary police powers not to be used. The statement says:

“Any heavy-handed enforcement of the regulations carries serious dangers for the relationship between Gardaí and the public, especially around asking for documentary proof of employment.

“Criminalising those who do not comply could clog up the criminal justice system at a time when courts are closed but for urgent cases and prisons are trying to achieve physical distancing.”

In addition, ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick said:

“The approach of An Garda Síochána up to this point has been based on consent and has been for the most part successful. We urge both Government and Gardaí to continue this approach. The vast majority of people have been observing the advice to stay at home and restrict movements to what is essential for the past two weeks.

“So it is not clear that there is any demonstrated need to move from consent to enforcement and we urge the Garda Commissioner to make it clear that the introduction of these regulations does not lead to any significant change in the operational approach of the Gardaí.”

ICCL: Extraordinary police powers should not be used (ICCL)

UPDATE: 

Mr Herrick, speaking to Claire Byrne on RTÉ’s News at One, made the following point:

“What we would be saying is that the commissioner now needs to issue operational guidance that we maintain the current practice, that there shouldn’t be a significant departure at this stage and that that policing by consent with the trust and confidence of the people is the most successful way that we can go forward.

“I think, firstly what needs to happen here, of course, is that the regulations need to be published. The public need to see these and the minister obviously made them available to RTÉ last night but the public haven’t seen them yet.

“I think it’s very important that there are safeguards put in place, too. Every single use of these extraordinary powers should be recorded and the Policing Authority should be involved in monitoring their use to make sure that they’re evenly used and also, as the minister and commissioner have said, sparingly as well.”

Earlier, RTÉ’s Crime Correspondent told Ms Byrne that RTÉ had seen the, as yet, unpblished regulations.

Listen back in full here

53 thoughts on “New Garda Powers And Your Movement [Updated]

  1. GiggidyGoo

    If Simon Harris has signed these last night, then why aren’t they available to view? Now, I have been wrong in the past, but I got the distinct impression from Harris last night that he was bluffing about going to sign these after the show. Do they even exist?

      1. topsy

        Bodger: (hope not of course) but explain that to a relative, friend or neighbour if they end up in ICU due to Covid 19; caused by some persons reckless endangerment of fellow citizens.

          1. realPolithicks

            Why so dramatic indeed:
            Finnster
            April 8, 2020 at 1:41 pm
            Welcome to our omnipresent surveillance state.

          2. Clampers Outside

            Long before that…. we ingested trackers when we got those iodine pills in 2002!

    1. A Person

      Its all to do with mobile phone masts. Sure there is no point in stopping the free movement of people, as mobile phones will kill them anyway. Let’s not take realistic measures, but moan, moan and moan on the great expertise of the tinternet.

  2. Finnster

    This is deeply concerning. Is it constitutional? I would be interested in hearing opinions/facts from any readers who might be lawyers.

    1. Hank

      I suspect you’d be more interested in hearing opinions/facts from any readers who might be conspiracy theorists.

      1. Finnster

        Sure. I suspect you’re probably someone who reads the Daily Mail and Journal.ie and believes everything they are told, without question.

        1. Hank

          Wow. You’ve nailed it. Spot on.
          You really seem to have a gift for this stuff.
          I think now, more than ever before, we need people like you to guide us. Never until this moment have I felt I truly understood what a youthful Bono meant when he sang “I will follow”. But you’ve changed all that.
          Please show me the way.

  3. Buzz O Neill

    Well sure look it, if it gets Gemma O Doherty that long overdue kick in the hole, then it will be all worth it.

  4. V

    How is Harris allowed sign off any Law?

    A few by-laws and H & S regs for the Dept of Health
    Sure

    But actual law that can be enforced with penalties by lads engaged and answerable to the Dept of Justice and the Courts?

    Is Miggledy off cocooning somewhere?

  5. Finnster

    And, where are the opposition to challenge this? Is everyone too scared to ask questions lest they be accused of endangering lives?

  6. A Person

    Honestly, you are all constitutional lawyers all of a sudden? Having been in isolation I can tell you it is awful. 7 days with no human contact. Ah but no I might sue the state for it being unconstitutional. Do what you like armchair lawyers. Contact the virus, or spread it, all because you want to sunbath or go to a yoga class. Kill someone, or just maybe have some consideration for others. And yes not taking measures is reckless endangerment. And Goo, or are you Gemma, it is not caused by mobile phone masts.?

    1. Finnster

      You clearly haven’t read the comments properly. As far as I can see, not one person here is claiming to be a constitutional lawyer. People are asking questions and looking for answers. Please don’t let that terrify you into submission.

    2. GiggidyGoo

      I’d love to know why you’re mentioning phone masts in every post you address me in. I haven’t written anything here in favour of them, nor against them. Are you living in a Walter Mitty world all of the time?

      1. A Person

        “This is deeply concerning. Is it constitutional? ” “And, where are the opposition to challenge this? Is everyone too scared to ask questions lest they be accused of endangering lives?”
        Restricting movements to protect our population is clearly the right thing to do, and not unconstitutional. Do we really need a referendum to sort this out? Goo, you made a comment that 5G should not be dismissed as a cause of the virus. Cannot find the post and can’t be bothered seeking it out. But to suggest that 5G can cause a world wide pandemic…seriously?

        1. some old queen

          No s/he never did- I am the one who has health concerns about 5G but it is nothing to do with the virus.

          Apart from the fact that there been accusations made that telecom companies are using the cover of a lock down to install them.

          The truth of that will not be known until we emerge from the darkness, very hairy with 8 weeks roots showing, and no clothes that fit- as we will all be 3 stone heavier.

    3. Clampers Outside

      7 days and you read like you’ve been locked up for years… Jeez man.

      Try a bit of meditation. And stay off the internet.

  7. Harry Robertson

    Here’s an idea, stay home for 5 days, you’ve been doing it (I hope) for the last 10 and it won’t affect anyone.

  8. topsy

    I hope gardai lash out a truck load of fines to the “entitled” cowboys flaunting the law.

  9. Daisy Chainsaw

    I hope the law states that anyone stopped heading to the “summer house” has their car and its contents confiscated.

    1. missred

      Also that any holiday makers selfishly getting on the ferry and going into Cork or Rosslare from UK are told to do a swift U-turn and sail back

  10. Cathal

    Why is it when I hear Charlie Flanagan mentioned I think of Donald Pleasance being creepy

  11. Shayna

    Bundoran in County Donegal will not benefit from Her Majesty’s Shillings – Us Northern types do tend to go there. Shayna says sorry!

Comments are closed.