More than 920 prosecutions for Covid breaches during pandemic

Nearly 1,000 people have been prosecuted for breaching Covid-19 regulations since the pandemic began, the Irish Independent can reveal.

ew figures show charges were directed in 926 cases for offences including flouting travel restrictions and pubs failing to serve a substantial meal.

Four border counties are among the top six places where prosecutions have been directed.

There were 245 files submitted where the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled there should be no charges, which includes a decision not to prosecute a gathering at an RTÉ retirement party last year.

It comes as the Government warned that next week’s reopening could be delayed due to rising Covid numbers, while the Health Minister has said further restrictions over Christmas cannot be ruled out.

The two counties with the highest prosecutions for breach of Covid-19 regulations since April 2020 were Cavan and Laois, with 50 each per 100,000 people.

The border county of Monaghan had the third highest number of prosecutions with 44 per 100,000 people, followed by Galway (35), Leitrim (34) and Donegal (32).

While Dublin had the most incidents of charges being directed for Covid breaches, with 208, its population of almost 1.4m means there were only 15 per 100,000.

The county with the lowest number of prosecutions per population was Longford with seven, followed by Wexford and Kildare (eight), Offaly (nine) and Wicklow (10).

The figures were obtained under a Freedom of Information request to the DPP’s Office, which said the majority of cases were prosecuted summarily by gardaí at the district courts.

More than two-thirds of these offences were for breaches of travel restrictions, with charges directed in 653 cases.

There were also 88 prosecutions relating to failing to comply with a garda’s direction or refusing to give a name or address.

One person in Cork was brought before the courts for assisting the escape of a person subject to an isolation order, while two people in Dublin were charged with failing to complete passenger locator forms.

Prosecutions against pubs and restaurants included 27 charges for failing to supply a substantial meal, and 46 for operating a pub in breach of regulations.

On 28 occasions retail outlets were brought to court for selling non-essential items, while there were a further 22 for business opening in breach of regulations.

One person in Galway was prosecuted for preventing the detention of a person subject to an isolation order, while there were 30 charges for organising events.

The DPP also directed charges on 20 occasions where people failed to provide a PCR test, with the majority of these in Dublin.

The Office of the DPP said that, as most cases were prosecuted summarily by gardaí, no details on the number of people convicted were available.

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