Garda Commissioner condemns 'disgusting' spitting attacks on Gardaí
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Garda Commissioner condemns 'disgusting' spitting attacks on Gardaí

GARDA COMMISSIONER Drew Harris has voiced his disgust and condemnation as Gardaí continue to be spat and coughed at by members of the public.

In a new report issued by An Garda Síochána, it was revealed that from 8 April until 27 June, there were 121 incident of spitting and/or coughing against members of the force.

The attacks, which generally happen when Gardaí are attempting to break up a gathering or make an arrest, resulted in Gardaí using anti-spit guards or spithoods a total of 82 times.

Gardaí maintain that the use of spithoods, which have previously been condemned by human rights organisations for the use of force required to put them on, will be used by officers only as a last resort, and their use will last only as long as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic remains in the country.

Speaking as the new figures of spitting attacks-- which has risen by 21 in just two weeks-- Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said:

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"Gardaí continue to be subject of disgusting and despicable spitting and coughing attacks. This remains a serious concern for the organisation. These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment.

"We must protect them from such attacks," he added..

"This includes having the option of using anti-spit guards in very limited circumstances. We have made it clear these anti-spit guards are only to be used as last resort and in line with the Garda Decision Making Model, which includes at its centre human rights and our Code of Ethics.”

The updated figures did reveal some positive news, however-- in the past week, Gardaí have not had to enforce any of the rules introduced to slow the spread of Covid-19, and the week before, Gardaí invoked their temporary powers just seven times.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has condemned the "disgusting and despicable" spitting attacks on members of Gardaí. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

In total, Gardaí have used their temporary Covid-19 powers 320 times, two times after the request of a medical professional.

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Of the 320 incidents, 110 have been heard in court. Most incidents involve a single individual but some have resulted in charges against multiple people, Gardaí say.

To date, in 29 of the 320 incidents the DPP directed no charge, and the remainder continue to be under criminal investigation.

Deputy Commissioner, Policing & Security, John Twomey said, "There has been very good compliance with the public health guidelines to date. As we enter Phase 3 it still remains important for people to continue to heed public health advice to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

"At the outset of the COVID-19 situation, An Garda Síochána said it will continue to operate as a community-based policing service with a focus on protecting the vulnerable.

"This approach will not change during this phase.”