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Gardai to take stern action against violators of foreign travel law; huge drop in passengers

DUBLIN: As Garda Commissioner Drew Harris ordered stern action against breach of law, prosecution proceedings accelerated. With the decision to inspect and charge airline passengers, the number of fines rose along with the decrease in illegal travel.

Under the new legislation, gardai can instruct passengers to return home if they are convinced that the travel is not essential.

Gardai said that if they insist on continuing their journey, people will have to face prosecution and summons from the district court. Following the order of the Garda Commissioner, cases were sent to the DPP over the weekend demanding prosecution against foreign travellers.

This strict approach was suggested by Commissioner Drew Harris last Friday.  It was only after that that the gardai began to intervene in international passenger law violations. Violators will be fined and subject to criminal prosecution.

There has been a significant drop in the number of people traveling abroad over the weekend. Officials at the Garda National Immigration Bureau are seeking the DPP’s permission to prosecute people who continue to travel illegally. “Certainly, there have been a number of referrals over the weekend to the DPP seeking prosecution for failing to obey a garda direction,” said one garda source.

International travelers will be questioned by GNIB officials at the departure gates at airports. “You are met by a garda and asked for your reason to travel and they will assess if it is a reasonable excuse for foreign travel, and if you convince the garda, there are no issues, as there are people who have essential reasons for travel,” said a garda source.

“If the gardaí determine you don’t have an essential reason for travelling you are told you will get an immediate €500 fine that will be there for you on your return,” he added.

“The reports are that while the airport is still busy, there has been a significant reduction in the number of departures out and that a significant number of passengers are not turning up for flights booked over the weekend,” said a source. He also said that this indicates that people are paying attention to public health advice.

Holders of Irish residency permits traveling to countries including India for essential purposes and returnees do not have to undergo significant questioning. However, credible evidence of travel reasons may sometimes need to be presented.

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