New powers in support of the public health restrictions on movement and gatherings have been provided for members of An Garda Síochána under section 31A of the Health Act 1947, as inserted by the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020. The purpose of these powers is to protect public health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The regulations are available on the Statute Book at the following link:  http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2020/si/121/made/en/print

The Minister for Justice and Equality has requested the Garda Commissioner to compile and publish weekly data on the use of these powers, with a view to ensuring transparency.  Garda publications recording data on the use of these powers can be accessed on the website of An Garda Síochána at the following links:

To provide additional public assurance on the appropriate and proportionate use of these powers, the Minister for Justice and Equality has also asked the Policing Authority to assess and report regularly on the use of these regulations by An Garda Síochána.

The first report of the Policing Authority to the Minister of Justice and Equality was received on 20 April 2020. 

The second report of the Policing Authority was provided to the Minister for Justice and Equality on 7 May 2020.  The Policing Authority finds that An Garda Síochána are continuing to act in a sensitive and proportionate manner and to use the powers under the Health Regulations only sparingly.  The Authority specifically welcomed the Commissioner’s emphasis on the importance of the Garda Decision-Making Model, which has at its centre Human Rights and the Code of Ethics and also identified clear evidence of the consistent application of the law and of policy throughout the country by Gardaí in all circumstances.

The third report of the Policing Authority was provided to the Minister for Justice and Equality on the 20 May 2020.  The Policing Authority finds that the level of the use of their new powers has been modest, given the extensive level of engagement between the Garda Síochána and the public, and that the positive reaction at community level to the breadth and depth of engagement by Gardaí continues. Those who work with vulnerable people reported very positive responses from gardaí throughout the country. This is very welcome and the Authority also welcomes increased clarity and transparency regarding the provision of COVID-19 testing and the wearing of PPE by Garda members.