Gardaí, media to self-isolate as officer gets positive Covid-19 result after JoJo Dullard briefing

Garda was awaiting result of test when they attended press conference in Co Kildare

Garda headquarters has launched an inquiry into the matter.

Garda headquarters has launched an inquiry into the matter.

 

Gardaí and journalists who attended a Garda briefing on the disappearance of JoJo Dullard have been advised they may have been exposed to Covid-19 at the event.

It is understood a garda was awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test when they attended the briefing which was held in Newbridge Town Hall in Co Kildare on Monday morning. Members of Ms Dullard’s family were also in attendance.

Shortly after the briefing concluded the garda was informed of the positive Covid-19 test. Garda headquarters has launched an inquiry into the matter.

The purpose of the briefing was to announce the upgrading of the investigation into Ms Dullard’s disappearance 25 years ago to a murder inquiry. In February the Garda Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) initiated a review of the case. This lead to the determination that the 21-year-old Kilkenny woman died violently at the hands of another sometime after 11.57pm on November 9th, 1995.

No one has ever been arrested in relation to Ms Dullard’s disappearance and gardaí hope the launch of a murder investigation will motivate potential witnesses to come forward.

“We are satisfied that now that JoJo came to harm in Moone and we are classifying this investigation as a murder,” said Kildare Superintendent Martin Walker.

Detective Superintendent Desmond McTiernan said the SCRT is “quite satisfied that JoJo is dead and met her death through violent means.”

Ms Dullard’s sister Kathleen Bergin used the briefing to issue a fresh plea for information on the disappearance.

She appealed for people with information to “find it in your heart” to come forward. “We understand if fear has been holding them back. Please believe us. We just want to have JoJo brought home. You will not be judged.”

The event was attended by between 15 and 20 reporters, photographers and camerapeople as well as gardaí, hall staff and Dullard family members.

Facemasks were mandatory and attendees were advised about social distancing regulations. However at times social distancing was not complied with during the briefing which lasted about 15 minutes. The event was held indoors due to the weather conditions.

The Garda’s Chief Medical Officer has been consulted and is liaising with the HSE to determine the next steps. Those in attendance have been advised to await a call from HSE contact tracers and to consult their GPs with any concerns.

It is understood one of Ms Dullard’s family members is due to appear on RTÉ Crimecall tonight as part of the renewed appeal for information. It is not yet known if this will proceed.

“An Garda Síochána can confirm that a member of An Garda Síochána who was present at this media briefing shortly afterwards received notification of a positive Covid-19 test,” a Garda spokeswoman said.

The Garda press office declined to say why the affected Garda was not self-isolating while awaiting test results but said “All members of An Garda Síochána are expected to fully comply with HSE guidelines”.

“HSE guidelines, supported by internal An Garda Síochána Chief Medical Officer guidance, have been circulated to all staff members of An Garda Síochána on numerous occasions.

“An Garda Síochána will carry out an enquiry into the circumstances of their attendance at the media briefing,” the spokeswoman said.

“An Garda Síochána will not be providing commentary on the individual status of any members of An Garda Síochána or individual Garda stations/ sections.”

Last week a District Court in Kerry was shut down after the judge was told a Garda who was present had tested positive for Covid-19.

Also last week several members of the Kerry Roads Policing Unit were forced to go into self-isolation after being exposed to Covid-19 during a training course.

Earlier this month Garda Commissioner Drew Harris had to self-isolate after coming in contact with another member who later tested positive.