More than 65 Arrests and 40,000 fines issued for breaches of Covid-19 Restrictions so far - Aontú
There were more than 65 arrests and over 40,000 fines issued to members of the public for breaches of Covid-19 regulations, according to data released by the Department of Justice to Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD. Deputy Tóibín has today explained why he will be voting against an extension to the emergency powers legislation:
"We in Aontú believe that the government's approach to the pandemic was fundamentally flawed and contradictory. On one hand they imposed the severest and longest lockdowns and restrictions in the EU and on the other hand, for most of the pandemic, people were allowed to fly in from every Covid hotspot in the world. Members of the public have been forced to stay at home - or within a few kilometers of their homes, while at the same time people were landing here from all over the world on a near daily basis - including from areas such as Northern Italy at the very start of the pandemic".
"Covid is a real illness and we need to be vigilant, exercise social distancing and general common sense. But 56% of all people who died with Covid in the last 14 months caught Covid in Hospitals and Nursing Homes. Two locations either run by the government or heavily regulated by the government were the epicenter of deaths and serious illness. You wouldn't know that from listening to representatives of the political establishment many of whom have been judgmental and condemnatory of people, especially the young. In Donegal, for example, a 'helpline' was set up to allow local people to report on their neighbours for breaching restrictions. This is madness. A Fianna Fáil Senator spoke of calling in the army to deal with students gathering in Galway"
Deputy Tóibín continued: "This week the government is seeking to extend the emergency powers legislation until November. Aontú will be voting against this extension. As with many things in life, encouragement is much better than condemnation or judgement - the government should have used more carrot and less stick to encourage, rather than enforce, adherence to public health advice"
"These are 'emergency powers', which we were told would be exercised carefully and in exceptional circumstances, but we see from the statistics released to me that there were 65 'covid incidences' where at least one arrest was made, and over 40,000 fines issued to members of the public. It would appear that over 14,000 of the fines were for 'leaving the home without a reasonable excuse', and a further 3,000 were for "attending events in dwellings" - what are these events? Visiting relatives? Attending a funeral or a wake? At a time of economic hardship and distress, fining people or arresting them is not the right answer, and it is for this reason I will vote against the extension of the powers in the coming days", concluded Deputy Tóibín.