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crackdown continues Garda powers to shut pubs will be extended

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Pint of beer on a bar in a traditional style pub

Pint of beer on a bar in a traditional style pub

Pint of beer on a bar in a traditional style pub

GARDA powers to crackdown on pubs flouting Covid-19 regulations are to be extended until next summer under proposals to be considered by Cabinet on Tuesday.

The enforcement powers - where Gardai can seek closure orders for up to 30 days - are due to expire next Monday, November 9.

However, under the proposals to be brought to Cabinet by Justice Minister Helen McEntee they would be extended until June.

Sources said this is in line with the duration of the Government's current 'Living with Covid-19' plan which outlines five levels of restrictions that can be imposed.

Pubs are closed for customers on the premises under the Level 5 restrictions currently in place and are only allowed sell take-away food and drinks.

The Garda enforcement powers were fervently opposed by TDs from the Rural Independent Group with Kerry TD and publican Danny Healy-Rae claiming that Ireland is becoming "like the dictatorships in Russia and other places".

However, the legislation - the Criminal Justice (Enforcement Powers)(Covid-19) Bill 2020 - comfortably passed the Dáil in September.

At the time Ms McEntee told the Dáil the majority of businesses had complied with public health restrictions and the Bill would encourage the small minority that didn't to follow the rules as well as giving Gardaí the power to "act swiftly to enforce the law, where necessary."

She said breaches of the rules represent an "unacceptable risk to human life and public health".

The law gives Gardaí of superintendent rank or higher the power to make an immediate closure order for the remainder of the day if a pub is found to be in breach of rules and it fails to comply with an order to do so.

Closure orders of up to 30 days can be issued by a district court if there are repeated breaches and a refusal to comply with rules.

Pub owners that don't comply face penalties including a fine of up to €2,500 or a six-month prison sentence.

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