Donegal TD claims dedicated hotline set up for locals to alert gardai to Covid-19 breaches is not justified

Irish Mirror   05/05/2021 07:51

It is completely unjustified for gardai to set up a special hotline to encourage locals to alert them to illegal parties or social gatherings, Sinn Fein TD Padraig MacLochlainn has said.

Gardai in Donegal have set up a special hotline to allow the public to inform them about breaches of Covid-19 restrictions in the county.

The move is in response to a huge jump in the number of Covid-19 cases in the county in recent days.

Both the Milford and Letterkenny electoral areas had the highest national incidence rates of the virus.

Now, gardai are clamping down on such illegal gatherings and want the public in Donegal to play their part.

Letterkenny-based Garda Grainne Doherty revealed the special phone number has been set up at Letterkenny Garda station which will cover the entire county.

Anybody who hears of illegal parties or gatherings is encouraged to contact the telephone number, 0749167101 to report incidents.

Garda Doherty said all calls will be investigated.

Garda Doherty specifically referred to birthday parties, beach parties, gatherings after funerals and also gathering of secondary school students as being areas of concern for gardai.

If any event is ongoing it will be investigated or if an event is planned, then gardai will attempt to stop the event from taking place, she added.

"This is such a concern and the figures are so high and it's an awful worry. We are encouraging people to contact this number and to speak to a member or leave a message.

"People do not have to leave their names or addresses and all calls will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

"The responsibility to stop the spread of Covid-19 is on all of us as a community. This is not us against the community because we all have to act in a responsible manner in order to bring these numbers down," added Garda Doherty.

Sinn Fein TD Padraig MacLochlainn said the gardai's move to set up a dedicated hotline is not justified.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Drivetime, the Donegal TD said: "The gardai have a job to do. A small minority of people in our community have let their guard down.

"Any person in this State has the ability to lift the phone. Across Donegal, many people have rang the gardai and many fines have been issued by the gardai across the county.

"People in Donegal are quite angry at this stage. It doesn't justify the 'dogs in the streets' comment and it doesn't justify a dedicated hotline for Donegal.

"I would feel that this is a bit of an exaggeration of the extent of the challenge in Donegal. It's disheartening and demoralising for the vast majority of people in Donegal who have made huge sacrifices over the last year."

Last week, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the "dogs in the street" knew what was happening in Donegal, a claim which was met with anger from some parts of the public in Donegal.

Local TDs who met with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly last week said the vast majority of the public in Donegal were complying with Covid-19 guidelines.

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