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Violations of the COVID-19 rules will henceforth be fined on-the-spot; Garda Group voiced concern about practicality of the new rules

DUBLIN: Those who violate the regulations will now be immediately fined as part of an effort to reduce the rate of COVID spread in the country. The government is preparing new legislative amendments that will impose graduated scale fines on violators.

It is known that house owners or tenants residing in houses where house parties are held will be fined €1,000. It is also understood that from next Thursday, other violations of the COVID-19 restrictions could result in fines of up to €500.

The cabinet had earlier decided to give new powers to Garda. It will allow Garda to issue fines to the owner of a house where a house party or gathering is taking place.

The Garda is allowed to disperse partygoers in homes and other indoor venues. But if people refuse to accept Garda’s request to leave the party, those living in the house could be given a fine.

Under the new law, if there is no other evidence, the owner of the house would be presumed to be the organiser of the event. They will also be given a fixed charge notice.

Under the current law, Garda is not legally allowed to enter a home without a warrant. However, they do have the power to restrict people violating the COVID-19 restrictions from entering house parties or indoor gatherings.

If someone is going to a party or is somewhere in the area where a party is going to take place, the Garda can instruct them to leave the area in a peaceful manner.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that if Gardaí knock on the door of the house where the party is taking place, they can ask who owns the house, and they can ask everyone to leave.

At the same time, Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) expressed concern and ambiguity about the new proposed rules. AGSI says the new rules were developed without any consultation with key stakeholders regarding the practical application.

“We remain concerned about the practicalities of issuing on-the-spot fines in relation to house parties and other matters,” AGSI General Secretary Antoinette Cunningham said.

It is also clear from the minister’s opinion that we have no authority to enter a person’s home. So, if they refuse to open the door, the place where a house party takes place, we remain powerless – said Mr. Antoinette Cunningham.

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