Donegal Sinn Féin TD’s Pearse Doherty and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn have today written to the Minister for Health asking him to urgently amend the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) Regulations 2020, which would allow Gardaí to enforce Covid-19 restrictions not just on those resident in the State but also on persons visiting.
Both TD’s have said that the situation has again highlighted the pressing need for an all-island approach to this crisis.
Speaking today, Deputy Doherty said:
“Both Pádraig and I have been contacted by many constituents here in Donegal, and by people across the island, who are understandably concerned in relation to the news that has come to light over the weekend regarding the limitations of the Gardaí to enforce Covid-19 restrictions on visitors.
“It is not difficult to correct this and it can be done by the Minister at the stroke of a pen. The primary emergency legislation that we passed in the Oireachtas a number of weeks ago provided for regulations to be made by the Minister which could be imposed on ‘…persons or classes of persons resident in, working in or visiting locations…
“However, the Regulations that the Minister did make, define an “applicable person” on whom the restrictions can be imposed as: ‘…a person whose place of residence is located within a relevant geographical location.’
“Therefore, we are calling on the Minister to urgently amend the regulations to widen the definition of an “applicable person” to include all persons, regardless of their place of residence.
“In this unprecedented public health emergency, An Garda Síochana must have the full suite of necessary powers available to them to enforce the restrictions equally, without exception.
“During this time, our normal daily lives have been suspended. The vast majority of people have been adhering to the restrictions and staying at home. Our elderly and vulnerable citizens have been cocooning. It is important that everyone is treated equally and that nobody is seen to be outside the scope of these restrictions.”