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Covid 19

More than 70 complaints to GSOC over use of Covid-19 powers

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has notified garda management of more than 70 complaints from members of the public that mention aspects of the enforcement of Covid-19 restrictions as a factor.

GSOC has said that many of the complaints have yet to be assessed to see if they meet the criteria set out in law to be investigated by the ombudsman.

However in a statement GSOC said it took a decision to share information about the complaints with the force in order to assist garda management in “identifying issues which may be emerging in the enforcement of the restrictions.”

GSOC said the identities of people making complaints, and the indentities of gardaí who are subject to the complaints, are not included in the information being shared by the ombudsman with Garda Internal Affairs.

One in three of the complaints which appear to be related to the enforcement of the restrictions or in which Covid-19 is specifically mentioned allege gardaí were not observing social distancing or were not using gloves and/or masks.

Other examples of the type of complaints involved include claims that a garda was rude at a checkpoint, or that a garda instructed a person to return home when the person said they were going beyond the 2 kilometre limit to go to the shop.

The 2km limit included in the Covid-19 restrictions does not apply to shopping for groceries.

GSOC said it believes that sharing anonymised details in this way in real time will alert the force to concerns emerging from the public and allow garda management address issues as they arise.

Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris yesterday told a meeting with the Policing Authority that “we are in uncharted waters” in terms of the long-term impact of the new powers given to gardaí during the Covid-19 crisis.

He said that gardaí had “engaged in more than 10,000 checkpoints” across the country last week.

Mr Harris also said that the number of coronavirus-related arrests up to yesterday (76) illustrated how well the public was complying with the new regulations and “how sparingly gardaí were using their enforcement powers”.

From RTE News.