The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has today welcomed the fifth report of the Policing Authority on Policing Performance by An the Garda Síochána in Relation to the Covid-19 Regulations. This series of reports has been prepared by the Policing Authority following the Minister’s request for a regular and independent assessment of An Garda Síochána’s exercise of the temporary powers provided in support of the public health guidelines.
The Report provides information on the exercise by An Garda Síochána of its powers and engagement with communities, as public health restrictions eased and Ireland moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business.
Minister Flanagan said:
The Policing Authority has again provided very useful analysis in relation to the Garda response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including a geographic and chronological breakdown of the use of powers and other measures adopted such as checkpoints. This report demonstrates that, even with the easing of public health restrictions, An Garda Síochána continue to have a crucial role to play in supporting our national efforts to respond to the pandemic.
Referring to the statistical information included in the report, the Minister said:
This report, as well as the weekly reports provided to me by the Garda Commissioner, demonstrate that the graduated policing response adopted by An Garda Síochána is proving very effective. It is testimony to the success of this graduated approach that it has been necessary for Gardaí to use these emergency powers in only 313 cases, between 8 April and 20 June. The experience and goodwill which our Gardaí have accumulated in this period will be invaluable in the coming days, as we move to Phase 3 of the reopening and eventually into our post-pandemic future.
Other elements in the report addressed general crime trends during the pandemic, the use of anti-spit hoods, the particular position of young people in this period as well as Garda health and wellbeing.
The Minister continued:
I have seen at first hand the professionalism, diligence and true sense of purpose which the women and men of Garda members have displayed, as they tackle this crisis. I commend them for this crucial work and I am particularly struck by the Authority’s finding that this period has been a time of ‘exceptional service and community engagement’ by Gardaí, which will shape the depth and quality of the relationship between Gardaí and the community in the future. It is heartening to see that positive lessons can be learned from the emergency response to this terrible crisis.
Minister Flanagan concluded:
This Report also records the tragic loss of Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who lost his life in the service of the State, while serving and protecting the community he loved. The Policing Authority’s reflections on the tremendous impact that individual Garda members can have on a community certainly apply to Detective Horkan, who has left a lasting legacy behind in Castlerea. I once again extend my deepest condolences to his family, his wide circle of friends and loved ones as well as his heartbroken Garda colleagues.