Galway has had the fourth highest level of fines issued for COVID offences since the start of the pandemic according to a Policing Authority report.
This report, the 16th by the Policing Authority on the Gardaí’s response to the pandemic, covers a period from April 8, 2020 to November 29 of this year.
During that time there were 1,338 fines issued in the Galway Garda Division, exceeded only by DMR North (3,447), Cork City (2,144) and DMR West (1,475).
The Dublin Metropolitan Region as a whole accounted for 7,344 fines, almost a third of the national total of 23,112 to date.
Since the time of the last such report by the Policing Authority on July 9 there have been an additional 882 Fixed Charge Notices issued, despite the fact that most restrictions ended by or shortly after July.
The report notes that, “a large proportion of the additional fines imposed have been applied retrospectively to the period before July”.
International Travel restrictions ended on July 17, and penalties for organising or attending events on August 2. The only measures for which Fixed Charge Notices can still be issued is for refusing to wear a mask.
To date, 47% of fines issued under COVID regulations, while 53% are unpaid and “either have or will” result in court summonses, the Policing Authority states.
“In earlier editions of these reports the Authority noted its reservations about the increasing use of fines, the unfair burden of such fines on the less well-off and the pressures that the non-payment of fines might place on the Courts system if they are pursued through the Courts.”
Th Policing Authority also noted its ongoing concern about the welfare of Gardaí, with issues related to verbal and physical abuse from some members of the public, such as “weaponising” coughing or spitting.
Indeed, while still lower the first days of the pandemic the number of incidents of Garda personnel being coughed or spat on has increased again in recent months.
There were 24 such incidents around the country recorded in November alone, up from 11 last August, and 9 in March of this year.