Friday, April 03, 2020

A heightened Garda presence has been visible on the streets of Mayo’s towns and villages since last weekend.

Ten trainee gardaí have been drafted into Mayo to assist with policing the Covid-19 lockdown.
A heightened Garda presence has been visible since last weekend, mainly due to a significant increase in the number of gardaí on duty at any one time. Gardaí from the division’s five units have been redeployed to four units and are working 12-hour shifts while ten gardaí from Templemore Training College were also drafted into Mayo stations last week.
“We have a 25 per cent increase in staffing,” explained Supt Kevin Gately. “We have more people working for more of the time. The new gardaí are inexperienced but it’s a great opportunity for them in terms of community engagement.”
Community engagement is a key element of the Garda response to Covid-19.
Gardaí have used their links in the community to work with Mayo County Council and the HSE in contacting and establishing connections with groups and organisations who can assist in volunteer efforts and also in order to identify people who may require assistance.
“We want to make sure nobody falls between the gaps,” said Supt Gately.
“Anyone who is out there who is that bit more isolated and requires help we want to let them know that people are there for them.
“Any request for assistance that can’t be facilitated through a local community group that has been set up in that area then we will, of course, provide assistance for that person and whatever they need,” he added.
But Supt Gately warned that Covid-19 is not distracting Gardaí from their more traditional roles, such as road traffic policing.
“We are policing as normal in terms of enforcement of the Road Traffic Act, public order issues, crime investigation. That’s all going on as usual. With Covid-19, the whole issue of keeping people safe and protecting lives and property is our foremost duty. That takes precedence at the minute,” said Supt Gately, who added that officers are adopting a commonsense approach when dealing with people who wish to travel to visit the elderly or vulnerable.
“We don’t want a situation where people can’t get access to elderly people or people they are minding but a story must be credible. If someone is making a journey we will establish if it is necessary. If they are going to see elderly parents we will be asking who else is providing care.”
Supt Gately believes the pandemic has brought out the best in many.
“There is tremendous community spirit out there and people are giving of their time to help. Communities will grow stronger through this. There is a real ‘Meitheal spirit,” being shown,” said the Superintendent.
He encouraged the public to comply with the latest Government guidelines, particularly those on social distancing and also called for all voluntary groups across the county to contact Mayo.ie to become part of a co-ordinated approach, headed up by Mayo County Council, to ensure that the elderly and vulnerable in communities are looked after during the crisis.
“Please follow the guidelines as set out. It’s about collective responsibility.”

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