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Gardai liaise with PSNI as major policing operation continues over bank holiday weekend

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Gardai at a checkpoint ensure passengers are adhering to strict travel restrictions.

Gardai at a checkpoint ensure passengers are adhering to strict travel restrictions.

REUTERS

Gardai at a checkpoint ensure passengers are adhering to strict travel restrictions.

Gardai conducting checkpoints across the country this bank holiday weekend has seen a high compliance with travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.

An extensive network of checkpoints are being manned by gardai across the country over the May bank holiday weekend.

More than 2,500 gardai will be involved in checkpoints or high-visibility patrolling to persuade the public to comply with the 2km movement restrictions as part of Operation Fanacht.

A particular focus has been put on main arterial routes, secondary roads and those leading to tourist hotspots, parks and walking routes.

Gardai are liaising with the PSNI to encourage motorists to stay at home unless they are making an essential journey.

Joint cross border checkpoints have been conducted at Muff and Lifford Bridge, Co Donegal, where gardai reported a high compliance among road users.

The joint policing effort yesterday seized €2,500 and suspected cannabis when a 22-year old man was arrested after the car he was travelling in turned back from a checkpoint and drove to Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone.

Speaking the Lifford Bridge checkpoint yesterday, Inspector Michael Harrison said: "We're stopping people here, we're asking them where they are going and what is the purpose of their journey."

"We are finding the co-operation we are getting at these checkpoints quite good," he said.

"Nobody wants to transmit this virus. But we are detecting a number of other offences at these checkpoints."

Recent figures revealed gardai arrested 76 people between April 8 and April 25, while another two people were arrested on the instruction of a medical professional.

Another 760 people have been arrested for other alleged offences after being held by gardai enforcing the Covid-19 restrictions, ranging from incidents such as drink-driving detected at checkpoints, drug seizures and public order offences.

Operation Fanacht, which began at 7am on Tuesday, will run until the end of the May bank holiday weekend on Monday night.

Speaking about the operation this week, Garda commissioner Drew Harris said gardai will have a "good strong presence" on the country's roads.

"We're not changing tack, it still remains by education, and giving people education and encouraging their compliance and we find that in the vast, vast majority of cases that's working out for us.

"This week is the same, but we just want to be sure that we have a good strong presence on the roads, including trunk roads, the motorways, major roads as well as on secondary, on more minor roads to make sure the message is still with people.

"Enforcement is always there but it is at the far end of an exchange," he added.

Meanwhile, community Gardaí are still working throughout the bank holiday weekend to provide assistance to those who are cocooning.

Last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar unveiled a five-phase exit strategy from lockdown.

Mr Varadkar announced that older people who have been cocooning can leave their homes for short periods from next week but are advised to keep cocooning and avoid contact with anyone when they leave their homes.

Over-70s will not be permitted visitors to their homes or to go to shops until the start of June.

Online Editors