Coronavirus: Full time public order unit to deal with disruption

Decision for standing public order unit made in ‘current climate of potential public unease’

A permanently standing public order unit has been set up in the Dublin region to respond to any major disorder arising from the coronavirus outbreak Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty

A permanently standing public order unit has been set up in the Dublin region to respond to any major disorder arising from the coronavirus outbreak Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty

 

A permanently standing public order unit has been set up in the Dublin region to respond to any major disorder arising from the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, An Garda Síochána said the force has had full time public order capability in the Dublin Metropolitan Region since Thursday, “which would be normal over a weekend and particularly a bank holiday weekend, or normal St Patrick’s Bank Holiday festivities.”

However, the unit will continue to operate on a “temporarily permanent basis” in light of the coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19, a Garda spokesman said.

The unit will be made up of four sets of 25 gardaí, and would be tasked with patrolling risk locations and responding to any incidents of protest or unrest.

It will be the first time the same 100 gardaí will be posted to a public order unit on a standing basis.

“This is not a significant escalation in policing but prudent in the current climate of potential public unease and disquiet as the Covid-19 situation develops,” the spokesman said.

Logistics

Garda headquarters decided it was logistically easier to staff the same members to a standing public order unit for the duration of the public health crisis, rather than resource members into a rolling unit on a daily basis.

“The temporary allocation of members to a dedicated role protects against potential internal spread of the Covid-19 virus and provides resilience and prevents contagion, rather than units being resourced on a daily basis cross contaminating across the organisation,” the Garda spokesman said.

The decision comes as the Government is considering extraordinary powers as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said yesterday that the Cabinet will look to give itself dramatic new enforcement powers to enable the State to close mass gatherings and venues with the force of law, and also to enable the State to detain and isolate people suspected of having coronavirus on public health grounds.

On Monday night, the Department of Health confirmed 54 new cases of the virus, bringing the total in the State to 223.

Current department models predict the spread of the coronavirus will continue to gather pace, with estimates showing the country could be seeing 355 cases per day by Sunday.