The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said the mandatory wearing of face coverings on public transports “has been extremely successful.”
She said she spoke to the Garda Commissioner this morning about it and, “I think but for a few incidents the gardai have not had to be called because people have been generally compliant.”
In relation to making it mandatory in shops and other locations, she said, “this is something currently being worked through with the Department of Health, again this should be where the gardai are called in as a last resort,” and she said people are being asked to comply with it “for their good and everybody else’s good.”
The Minister, speaking in Dundalk, county Louth, said as we head into the third weekend of Operation Navigation, “I would say the same thing I have said over last 2 weekends; we are asking people to be responsible,” and she said the health restrictions are there, “to protect people’s health.”
“When it comes to house parties, they are not a new phenomenon, they have been happening for some weeks and months now at this stage, and again I would urge people there are very clear guidelines when it comes to the number of people you can have in your home, and I would ask people to adhere to that.”
She said, “We have seen the vast majority of people are adhering to public health guidelines, the vast majority of business premises are adhering and putting measures in place to protect staff and customers and I would encourage people going into the weekend to take those public health guidelines on board.”
In relation to the anticipated green list of countries due to be published next week the Minister said, “until then we don’t have any certainty about who will or won’t be on the list, that is obviously is being worked through at the moment.”
She said the “the vast majority of people flying in” to Ireland are Irish citizens “and we want to ensure they can continue to come home.”
She repeated the advice for people only to travel if absolutely necessary.
Asked about the controversy around deputy Barry Cowen she said, “‘This is a matter that has been dealt with.”
“The Taoiseach has made his decision and I support him in that. This has been I think a difficult week for deputy Cowen as well and I think we can all understand that. There is an independent process underway and it is important we allow that process to take place.”
Asked if the Taoiseach had made the right decision in removing him from his position (as Minister) she said, “That is a matter for the Taoiseach, he made this decision in consultation with or having spoken with deputy Cowen and I support his decision.”
In relation to Garda recruitment she said it was still on target to reach 15,000 gardai by the end of next year.
The Minister was speaking to the media in Dundalk, where the private homes and cars of a number of gardai have been attacked in a number of incidents in the last 18 months.
She said she condemned ‘any attack on An Garda Siochana, it is an attack not just on them but on all of society, I think they work they do is instrumental and I would condemn any attack on An Garda Siochana.”
The Minister was in Dundalk with the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman where they announced funding of €700,000 being made available to groups to support community services and promote the visibility and inclusion of LGBTI+ people.
The Covid-19 message is getting very confusing. On the one hand there are dire warnings about the rising R number. Yet at the same time it will be a case of "bon voyage" to holidaymakers from Ireland flying to a "green list" European country from next week.