Govt. need to give border region Gardaí the power to enforce COVID-19 restrictions to those entering the Republic – Smith

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Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Taoiseach and his government to immediately amend the new COVID-19 regulations to ensure that they apply to everyone, even those living outside of the Republic who may travel over the border.

“Many people in Counties Cavan and Monaghan have contacted me concerned at the reports that Garda authorities have received legal advice that they don’t have the necessary powers to enforce the COVID-19 movement restrictions on someone if they live outside our State.

“The vast majority of people have made a massive effort over the last number of weeks to restrict their movements to slow the transmission of the coronavirus and they should be commended.

“However, as another bank holiday approaches, we need to ensure we do not see tourists or others travelling from Northern Ireland or elsewhere unnecessarily. Gardaí have the power to turn back people on unnecessary journeys in the Republic. The same powers should be used for those travelling from Northern Ireland or elsewhere unnecessarily.

“The allocation of powers of enforcement to the Gardaí was important in ensuring that everyone changed their behaviour and that anyone inclined not to heed the advice could be ordered to do so.

“While the vast majority have and will continue to follow the public health advice and make the immense personal sacrifices that come with that, it is essential that the Gardaí have the necessary powers to ensure that anyone that does not follow the advice can be fully cautioned.

“While it is the case that new legislation cannot pass in the Oireactas until a new Government is in place, it is possible for the Minister for Health to amend these regulations as he was granted these emergency powers in legislation recently passed by the Dáil and Seanad.

“This matter needs to be resolved immediately so that Gardai can continue their good work in ensuring that the movement restrictions are adhered to by everyone,” concluded Deputy Smith.