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major concern New garda quarantine powers could take weeks to arrive

Garda sources said some powers being mentioned by Government ministers might require primary legislation and this meant the changes would not be introduced in a matter of days.

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Member of Garda Siochana. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Member of Garda Siochana. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Member of Garda Siochana. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

PROPOSED new powers for gardaí to enforce Covid-19 regulations may not come into force for up to three weeks.

Garda sources said some powers being mentioned by Government ministers might require primary legislation and this meant the changes would not be introduced in a matter of days.

The announcement of the changes by ministers has created speculation about the exact details and has caused major concern among the leadership of the force's two main representative bodies.

Senior garda officers last night said there was no onus on the Government to consult them in advance of policy changes, although this might occur in some circumstances.

However, senior officers said they could understand the concern of the bodies in relation to changes they might be told to enforce and about the health and safety implications for their members.

It is understood any primary legislation change would be focused on persons entering the State from overseas and how they should quarantine.

It wouldn't have direct implications for on-the-ground policing.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee made it clear last night that gardaí would not be required to go into people's homes to check whether they were in quarantine.

Gardaí will likely call to a person's home and that person is then obliged to show that he or she is in quarantine by appearing at the door or ­window of their residence.

However, it is not clear how an officer is expected to determine the identity of that person without being shown valid documentation.

The Garda Representative Association said a clear policy for policing the Border with Northern Ireland is needed.

Assistant general secretary Dermot O'Brien said too often the Government had decided on policy first without considering the practicalities.

General secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, Antoinette Cunningham, said they were worried that the practical application of new regulations.


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