14 March 2021
By Bryan Smyth
Gardaí must continue to be afforded all supports possible in their role on the Covid frontline in the wake of GSOC complaint figures, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Jerry Buttimer said: “New figures released to me show there were 450 complaints in which Covid and/or aspects of the enforcement of Covid public health measures were recorded by GSOC between the start of the pandemic and 8 March 2021.
“The figures were sent by Justice Mary Ellen Ring to the Oireachtas Public Petitions Committee. The most common themes in these complaints are the alleged failure of Garda members to wear PPE in their dealings with the public, and the restrictions on movement of persons across the State including checkpoint activity and interpretations of what constitutes ‘essential’ travel.
“The anonymised complaints are shared with Garda management every week to assist in informing the national policing response to the pandemic.
“It was confirmed to me that 295 Covid-related complaints were received during the course of 2020, of which 221 were closed by the end of the year.
“Of the 221 that were closed, 118 were recorded as queries—this is where a person makes an initial complaint but does not provide sufficient information for the matter to be considered for admissibility. A total of 69 were deemed inadmissible, and 31 were discontinued.”
Senator Buttimer said: “Lockdowns and restrictions have been a huge adjustment for everyone. Gardaí, like the rest of the public, have quickly learned to adapt and work in the Covid environment in a safe manner that benefits us all.
“They were thrust into the front line when this began and have led the way, along with the rest of their frontline colleagues, in an exemplary fashion. Garda officers must be commended for their professionalism and service during an unprecedented time for this country that none will ever forget.
“I know the public are grateful for their work in keeping our communities safe, and gardaí on the frontline must be afforded all supports possible as we continue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.”