Gardai wearing face masks while checking cars at a checkpoint at Ravendale, County Louth which is just before the local border crossing point. RollingNews.ie photo.
By Anthony Neeson
Gardaí have begun to turn back drivers from Northern Ireland crossing the border who don’t have an essential reason to travel.
From Monday, Garda checkpoints were seen at a number of border crossings.
Under Level 5 restrictions in the Republic travel is restricted to 5 kilometers of a person’s home. Over 4,500 fines have been issued, with over 3,500 for non-essential travel.
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€100 fines can now be issued to a driver from Northern Ireland crossing the border without a reasonable excuse.
Speaking to RTÉ, Inspector Adrian Durcan from Monaghan Garda Station near the border said: “We have engaged with a few people who have not had essential reasons and on the advice of the guards, they have turned back.
“People have turned back when requested. I think it was three so far this morning.”
He added: “They will receive the fine and have 28 days to pay the fine. Failure to pay that fine will result in a court appearance.
“If they don’t pay it we will issue a summons in respect of the offense and we will follow through on that summons. We would have no concerns at the minute other than to ensure that people have an essential reason to travel.
“We’re here to encourage them and to explain to them that unless they are essential reasons we will be issuing fines.”
Inspector Durcan said Gardaí have had “excellent compliance” from the majority of people.
“But there’s still a minority of people who are no complying with the regulations and we’re here to ensure that these breaches aren’t reoccurring.”
Meanwhile, it’s not expected that there will be any moves to open the Irish economy by the start of next month. However, Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, says the government is working to reopen the construction sector by March 5.
“The reason the sector was closed was nothing to do with their own work practices, it was to reduce the movement of people, so they’ve been able to operate safely and they’ve shown that and I’m more than confident that we will be able to have the sector fully open and open again on the fifth of March,” said the minister.