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Garda checkpoints return under Level 5 lockdown

‘EXPECT to meet us anywhere,’ is the message from Clare Gardaí as they continue to enforce public health restrictions on travel. Following the return to Level 5, the policing plan for the division will now see three static checkpoints in Clare, and a number of roving, randomised checkpoints on roads across the county.

“We will have checkpoints right across the division and you can expect to meet us anywhere,” said Superintendent John Galvin. “As well as three static checkpoints, we will be operating random, short-term checkpoints at a wide range of locations. The message is that if you are on out on the roads, we will be asking you about the purpose of your journey.”

Superintendent Galvin noted that the approach taken to policing the 5km travel restrictions will be a “common sense” one. “We will be there to explain, advise and encourage,” he said. “People are entitled to travel to shop for essentials, for example, but they shouldn’t need to go 30km to do that. If we do the right thing we will beat this together. Using our powers under the legislation will be the very last resort. If people have a legitimate reason to travel, they can explain that to us and they will be okay. The advice remains to only travel where strictly necessary.”

In respect of other public health guidelines, Superintendent Galvin described compliance here as “pretty good”. “There have been increased numbers of people around and they made their plans before the new restrictions came in,” he noted. “Generally speaking, people are compliant.”

The Superintendent said that there had been a high level of compliance in the hospitality sector. “That has been very good overall,” he said. “We are continuing to inspect premises and if people have any information we should know, they should tell us. We are asking everyone to do the right thing and to enter into the spirit of the guidelines. We’ll get out of this quicker if we all do that.”

Nationally, An Garda Síochána has announced static checkpoints on national routes under Operation Fanacht. These started at 7am on Thursday (January 7) and will be supported by the local mobile checkpoints . The force also announced additional re-deployment of Gardaí to the front-line.Seventy Garda trainees currently deployed in training Garda stations, will be attested on successful completion of their initial phase one training. Sixty Garda reserves who have successfully completed their training will be attested

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey, Policing and Security said, “Keeping people safe during this pandemic has been An Garda Síochána’s number one priority. The measures announced today will further support that work. The additional checkpoints combined with high visibility patrolling in key locations will help Government and societal efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

The deputy commissioner acknowledged that this is a difficult time for people, particularly those who feel vulnerable or isolated. He urged people to contact their local station if they  need help or know someone who does.

An Garda Síochána will continue to investigate any alleged breaches of Public Health regulations under Operation Navigation (Licensed Premises) and Operation Treoraim (Non- Essential Retail).  Where members of the public are concerned about these activities they can contact their local Garda station.

The force has said it understands that increased restrictions will increase the anxiety and fear felt by those who may be victims of domestic abuse and noted that Operation Faoiseamh, for those at risk, is still in place.

Travel restrictions do not apply in the case of domestic violence or to escape a risk of harm, whether to the person or to another person.

Anyone experiencing abuse, or who is concerned for someone who is, has been urged to contact Gardai. Urgent assistance is available by calling 999 or 112.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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