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Gardai report high levels of lock-down compliance

HIGH levels of public compliance with the near lock-down imposed to tackle the spread of Covid-19 have been reported by one of Clare’s most senior Gardaí.

Superintendent John Galvin of Kilrush Garda Station said that since the restrictions on movement came in at midnight last Friday, the main role of the force had been to advise the public on how best to comply with them.

In tandem with the regulations instructing those over-70 to remain at home and preventing others from leaving their homes for all but essential work, certain medical appointments and food shopping, a major nationwide policing operation began to ensure compliance with the public health measures.

“At this point, almost everyone has realised the seriousness of the situation we are facing with regard to Covid-19,” Superintendent Galvin said. “People are heeding the regulations and our main role to-date has been in advising anyone we encounter on what they can and cannot do. In general, people are very compliant and we are here to support them in that, as much as possible.”

Nationally, high visibility patrols have been deployed, involving thousands of Gardaí on foot, bike and mobile patrols, while significant new powers have been drawn up for the force in terms of policing the lockdown, should the need arise.

In Clare, Superintendent Galvin said that to-date common sense was prevailing: “People are mostly quite reasonable. When they encounter a Garda checkpoint, our job is to ascertain who they are, where they’re going to and from and what their business is. If they are not complying with the restrictions, they will be turned back. That is happening in a small number of cases, but in general people are not out and about.”

Superintendent Galvin said general crime rates were down due to the restrictions, enabling Gardaí to devote time to their community role. Clare Gardai are part of the county’s multi-agency Covid-19 Community Response Forum and also report to the force’s Covid-19 National Coordination Unit, both of which are tasked with supporting the vulnerable, such as the over-70s, in accessing essential supplies and services while they are cocooning.

“We are delighted to be able to be part of the response to the community in these unprecedented times,” said Superintendent Galvin. “To some extent, we are freed up to respond because of the drop off in things like public order offences and traffic accidents, so we are in a good position to support people who need more help at this time.”

As the Courts Service is operating on a greatly reduced schedule, in accordance with the restrictions, Superintendent Galvin reassured the public that essential orders were still being adjudicated on: “Hearings have been adjourned, with the exception of things like remand hearings and so on, but if someone does need an order, for example in the case of domestic violence, that will be dealt with, I can assure people of that.”

In terms of accessing the support of Community Gardaí, anyone with concerns for themselves or for a neighbour is advised to contact their local Garda station. Clare’s Covid-19 Community Response Forum, of which the Gardaí are a member organisation, can be reached at 1890 252943. Lines are open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

About Fiona McGarry

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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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