GARDAÍ DO not believe they have the power to stop Irish tourists travelling to holiday destinations under the guise of dentist appointments, even if they do not show up for their treatment.
New laws introduced to stop the spread of Covid-19 means that anyone trying to leave the country for non-essential reasons could soon be fined up to €2,000.
However, as we reported last week, there has been an influx in tourists booking dental appointments in sun destinations such as Tenerife; passengers show Gardaí their appointment confirmation and are then allowed to travel without being fined.
In recent days, dentists in Tenerife and elsewhere have reported a large volume of Irish people booking appointments, requesting a confirmation email and never showing up for their treatment.
Staff at Dental Clinic Tenerife Sur told The Irish Times that they were getting up to 15 emails a day from Irish people looking for appointments, but "the only problem is they don't turn up".
Some dentists have hinted that they are willing to give Gardaí a list of names of Irish people who had booked appointments and not shown up-- however, it is still unlikely they will be punished.
A garda source told The Irish Times that under the current interpretation of the law, as long as those travelling abroad have a reason for doing so-- eg a dental appointment-- they will be covered even if they do not attend said appointment.
The offence occurs at the time of departure, so if when boarding the plane to Tenerife the Irish passenger has an essential dental appointment, "they could just say they were sick on the day of the appointment and were unable to attend".
The source also revealed to the outlet that they do not have the power to stop people from travelling abroad even if they suspect they will not be attending the 'essential' appointment.
"The law is quite clear," the source said.
"Travel for medical and dentist reasons is allowed. Full stop.
"If someone insists on travelling we can’t really stop them, even if we have our doubts about whether they will actually show up for their appointment."