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Kildare gardaí mount network of Easter checkpoints with new powers to enforce Covid-19 rules

Gardaí: Call us if you see people breaking rules

Senan Hogan

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Senan Hogan

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editor@kildarepost.com

Kildare gardaí  mounting network of Easter checkpoints to ensure people are compliant with Covid-19 rules

This Checkpoint was in Newbridge at 3pm - just hours after the operation came into force

Gardaí carried out checkpoints across Co Kidare today as part of a major operation to ensure public compliance with the travel restrictions introduced recently as part of Covid-19 public health guidelines.

The checkpoint pictured was mounted on the Naas Road into Newbridge, outside St Conleth's Church, in mid-afternoon. 

Motorists on both sides of the road were stopped and asked if they were on essential journeys. 

The operation – Operation Fanacht – will see an extensive network of checkpoints established across the country.

The Operation will run from today at 12 noon until Monday night, April 13.

It will involve thousands of checkpoints every day. At any one time, there will be over 2,500 Gardaí involved in checkpoints or high visibility patrolling.

Gardaí were yesterday given new powers to restrict people's movements and gatherings for the next five days under emergency health legislation brought in last month.

Penalties for non-compliance include fines of up to €2,500 and up to six months in prison.

The Garda Commissioner Drew Harris appealed to members of the public to make gardaí aware of any potential breach of restrictions introduced to combat the Covid-19 crisis.

He said: "If people see something that is of concern to them, which they think is something where there is a risk of the illness being spread on, a further vector for the illness, then they should let us know so that we can act, arrive there, deal with the situation and hopefully then resolve it."

Last month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar introduced strict measures to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and they remain in place until midnight on Sunday, but are expected to be extended.

Speaking today, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said: "This significant policing operation is designed to support travel restrictions put in place to help flatten the curve of Covid-19 cases and save lives.

"There has been very good compliance with the travel restrictions and we want to thank the public for this. However, it is vital that this continues over the coming days and over the weekend. This will save lives.

"In particular, we would ask people who are thinking of travelling to parks, natural beauty spots or holiday homes outside of the 2km limit not to do so. We are sending them a clear message that if they are stopped at a checkpoint they will be turned back.”

The operation will also see Gardaí conduct high visibility patrols at major tourist locations, parks and natural beauty spots to ensure compliance with travel restrictions.

Operation Fanacht will also enhance road safety.

"Unfortunately, despite the reduced traffic levels, there are still people putting their lives and the lives of others at risk by speeding, drink and drug driving, and not wearing their seat belt,” said Deputy Twomey.

For example, some speed detections in the last week include:
185kph in a 100kph zone on the N22, Cork
149kph in a 60kph zone on the R147, Meath
225kph in a 120kph zone on the M1, Dublin
159kph in a 80kph zone on the R420, Offaly
95kph in a 50kph zone on the N6, Galway

Speaking today, Mr. John Caulfield, Interim CEO, Road Safety Authority (RSA) said, "While the roads will have less traffic than normal over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend it doesn’t mean that there is no danger on the roads. People will be out exercising by going for a walk or cycle. So, I’m asking drivers to watch out for vulnerable road users and to slow down. Never has it been more important to practice good road safety habits because every crash and injury we prevent means we are putting less pressure on our first responders and health professions at a time of national crisis.”