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OPERATION FANACHT Gardai to man over 130 checkpoints nationwide as Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions are introduced

"Travelling tomorrow is going to a lot different to travelling today," said Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

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Gardai manning a checkpoint (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Gardai manning a checkpoint (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Gardai manning a checkpoint (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

GARDAÍ will from tomorrow be putting up 132 checkpoints across the entire country on the main arterial routes, including motorways, to ensure people are complying with Level 3 lockdown guidelines.

"Travelling tomorrow is going to a lot different to travelling today," said Garda Commissioner Drew Harris as he announced the measures at Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.

He warned of traffic jams. "We are putting checkpoints on the motorways, that's going to slow down traffic flow," he said.

While officers have not been given the powers by Government to enforce the guidelines, he suggested they were not needed for now, pointing out that of the hundreds of thousands of stops made during the last lockdown, special powers then afforded to gardaí were used only 342 times.

"Policing is an extension of good citizenship," he said.

Officers at the stops will be focusing on 'the three Es' - engage, educate and encourage.

While the Commissioner admitted that a motorist will be able to continue on, even if stopped and asked to turn back by officers, he said it would be "a foolish choice".

He said often the sort of people who do this "have made poor choices elsewhere" and could be dealt with using other powers.

He said the focus will also continue to be on community policing, as well as dealing with organised crime during the period of Level 3 across the country.

Asked how officers will be dealing with house parties, he pointed out that there are certain protections for citizens.

"There is a constitutional protection of the home," he said, but added gardaí will have a presence in areas where people are not following the guidelines.

"Having gardaí positioned outside your home during a house party will really dampen the mood," he said.

Herald