The Policing Authority (PA) has praised the response of An Garda Síochána to the COVID-19 crisis, but has emphasised the importance of fairness and consistency when policing events such as protests and pickets.
The policing oversight body has published the fourth in a series of reports to the Minister for Justice and Equality on its assessment of the force’s performance during the pandemic.
The PA said community and civil society organisations remain “very positive” in their assessment of the policing response during the current crisis.
The authority highlighted what it described as “the opportunity for the future to capture and preserve the positive engagement with communities”.
“Groups that hitherto would have reported low confidence in the gardaí are now expressing cautious optimism that the tone of interaction might be preserved beyond the COVID-19 emergency,” the report says.
On pickets and protests, the body says it has been assured that significant planning is continuing in cooperation with local authorities and organisers for future planned protests. The PA says this issue will be kept under review.
Comparing the experience of Ireland’s policing approach with that of many other European countries, authority chair Bob Collins (pictured) described it as “different and better”.
The report shows that the number of times the gardaí have used their powers under public health legislation has steadily declined throughout May.
Bob Collins warned, however, that the prospect of policing becoming more difficult as the restrictions are eased continued to be a source of concern.