Checkpoints and policing by consent

 

Sir, – It looks like the Garda Síochána is heading in the same direction as the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) in undermining its own credibility on Covid measures, and alienating its members from the very people they are supposed to be serving.

I am sure that it is a comfort to all the hospitality workers who have just lost their jobs that gardaí are getting lots of overtime to do the difficult job of standing at the side of the road.

Like Nphet asking for a Level 5 lockdown, whoever in the Garda thought causing massive tailbacks during rush hour obviously did not think it through properly.

If the intention was to encourage people to work from home, why not visit offices and ask office micro-managers to tell their staff to go home?

Not everyone on the road is a Covidiot. They are workers, like retail, construction, and supply chain staff, trying to get to work because their job simply can’t be done at home.

They are parents trying to bring their kids to school.

They are people trying to get to Dublin for medical appointments.

They are adults trying to visit their lonely elderly parents.

All of whom have now been made to feel guilty.

And now, the Government is threatening these innocent people with fines and a criminal record (“Fines for people who travel between counties being considered by Government”, News, October 7th).

For what? Trying to keep food on the table and bills paid, trying to keep an economy going, trying to get medical treatment that keeps them alive, trying to give a lonely relative some form of social contact. – Yours, etc,

JASON FITZHARRIS,

Swords,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – The “on tour” golf societies, the boisterous hen and stag groups or the “holiday homers” would most definitely not be among our early-morning commuters.

So what is the point in crucifying citizens who are trying to get to work, to get home to bed after night duty or attempting to get children to school when “buy-in” by these very same people who are so critical to the nation’s battle against the pandemic.

The Government needs to get a whole lot more sophisticated and empathetic with its citizens than in subjecting us to morning traffic jams of up eight kilometres and in the process jeopardising our respect and appreciation of the professionalism of An Garda Síochána, in its clumsy effort to announce the all country move to Level 3 restrictions.

Certainly, traffic checkpoints are very relevant and necessary, as when there are different restriction levels between counties throughout the country, but lack all credibility when used for their nuisance value to make a point that should be made with far greater imagination and affinity.

Nobody doubts the need for a potent, striking statement when going to a higher level of restrictions but people are becoming very tired of the “sledgehammer to crack a nut” and “one size fits all” bubble-think of this Government. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL GANNON,

Kilkenny.

Sir, – I understand the benefit of Garda checkpoints at the border of two counties which are at different Covid-19 restriction levels to prevent transmission from the more infected county, but I fail to understand the point of such checkpoints when all of the country is at the same level of restriction, other than to create traffic jams. – Yours, etc,

PAUL KILDUFF,

Glenageary,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Just wondering where is the logic behind restricting people to their own county? You can travel 105km from Sneem to Listowel in Co Kerry but you can’t cross the street in Portarlington! – Yours, etc,

SIOBAIN BROOMFIELD,

Rosenallis,

Co Laois.

Sir, – People don’t usually wear masks while driving. When stopped at a Garda checkpoint, they have to roll down their windows to engage in what can often be quite a detailed verbal interaction.

Does this not present the corona virus with a prime opportunity to circulate even more widely? – Yours, etc,

EMER HUGHES,

Moate,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – I understand the reasons for restricting social contacts in order to minimise the possible transmission of Covid-19. I can also understand why there may be rare occasions when a local outbreak justifies more severe restrictions on a particular town. But where the whole country is at the same level of restrictions, county boundaries impose an unjustifiable geographic arbitrariness. Why should it be acceptable to visit a friend living alone in Malahide, 32 kilometres from my home but not in Bray, less than seven kilometres away? – Yours, etc,

TIMOTHY KING,

Killiney,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Should the Garda Commissioner now join Nphet on Leo Varadkar’s list of those who need to think things through properly?

The delays were so bad on the M11 that the gardaí staffing the checkpoints stood aside and waved all the exhausted and frustrated drivers through.

Useless as a “checkpoint”, it became a “roadblock”.

The law-abiding citizens of our Republic should not be treated in this manner.

Think again before you cause such unnecessary disruption to a population more than willing to support the men and women of An Garda Síochána, but one that has enough to deal with in Covid-19. – Yours, etc,

ANTHONY O’FARRELL,

Glenealy,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – It seems our only option as commuters is to Hell or to Fanacht. – Yours, etc,

AARON CASSIDY,

Chapelizod,

Dublin 20.