People hosting house parties this weekend could face hefty fine

ireland
Garda checkpoint
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By Cate McCurry, PA

People who organise house parties in breach of Covid-19 regulations could face fines of up to €2,500 after new legislation came into force this weekend.The legislation passed by the Dail on Friday evening gives powers to gardai to issue fines to people in breach of the lockdown regulations.The public face fines of up to €500 for breaching the 5km travel limit introduced as part of lockdown measures.

Those who host house parties or gatherings could be fined up to €1,000 at the first instance.

Second and third offenders can face imprisonment and fines of up to €2,500.

The legislation underpinning the use of fines for breaches of restrictions was passed in the Dail and the Seanad on Friday.

The law in relation to house parties comes into effect this weekend, but the fixed penalty notices will be introduced in the coming week.

There will be more than 2,500 uniformed gardai on duty each day during the six-week lockdown introduced on Thursday.

The fines were introduced in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 among households.

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Statistics released by the Central Statistics Office Ireland (CSO) on Friday show that outbreaks in private houses account for 54% of cases linked to an outbreak in the last four weeks.

Members of An Garda Siochana performing random vehicle checks in the village of Muff, County Donegal, on the border with Northern Ireland (PA)

The country’s incident rate exceeded 300 per 100,000 population for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

On Friday, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris expressed reservations about the use of fines for enforcing Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Harris refused to say he supports the penalties.

“I’ll do as I’m told,” he said.

He said the enforcement measures would only be used as a “last resort”.

Asked if he supported the measures, he replied: “The good thing is the piece of legislation backs this up. I’m a public servant, a good and faithful servant at that, and I’ll do as I’m told.

“We have fines, but they are set in an enforcement sphere. We have to discern then what our policy and practice is with respect of that enforcement.

“But we have already set that out. Enforcement is our last resort. So the use of the fixed charge penalty notice, or a report to the DPP, is a last resort for us in all cases.”

A further seven Covid-19 linked deaths and 777 new cases of the virus were reported in Ireland on Friday.

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