Fines Coming In Next Few Days
The Minister for Justice has announced that the new fine system for resisting lockdown restriction will be in place in a matter of days.
New fines for breaching coronavirus restrictions will come into place in the coming days, Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said.
The Cabinet agreed a graduated system of penalties for people not wearing a face mask in shops and public transport, and those breaching the five kilometre travel limit.
Gardaí will also be given the power to fine the owner of a house who refuses to break up a party, and fine each person attending such a gathering individually.
The crackdown will also mean officers can fine someone they suspect of being on their way to a house party who refuses to leave the area.
People will be fined €1,000 for throwing a party, which will rise to €2,500 and six months in jail for further offences.
People will also be fined for not wearing a mask or breaching the five kilometre rule, but the amount has not been decided.
Minister McEntee told Newstalk Breakfast the Gardaí are updating their systems for the new measures.
"The legislation itself has been signed by the President, but it will take a number of days for the Gardaí.
"They have to update their systems under the Pulse system, so we expect to have that in the coming days.
"As people might be aware, there are already penalties there for a lot of the provisions that will be included under these fine systems.
"So whether it's the five kilmetre limit, whether it's wearing face masks in public, on public transport or in shops or some of the other penal provisions... it's a very severe penalty of up to €2,500 or potentially six months in prison.
"These fines will obviously be more graduated, and I think - and the Minister for Health obviously feels - would be more appropriate for the breach that we're talking about but this is something that will come in very soon."
She said the new fines will be in place "within days", and that the issue of house parties will be covered.
"What is already in play though, and what was very much quite a significant part of the legislation last week, is around house parties and gatherings.
"That will be part of the graduated fine system, but already if a person refuses to comply with a direction from a Guard where they call to a house where there's a party happening, where they refuse to shop the party and send people home, then there is a measure there for Gardaí to be able to take action".
"So there are a number of measures from the legislation that have come into effect already".
'Small number of cases'
While speaking last week, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the new fines would be applied to 'a very small minority of people'.
He said: "I believe they are important, I believe they will help.
"But what will dwarf their impact will be deepened consent being given to the personal behaviours that reduce the spread of this disease."
Asked if he believes the fines will improve people's behaviour towards the restrictions, he said: "Yes I do - but we are talking about a very small minority of people and behaviours to whom these fines could apply.
"It's important to emphasise that before fines like this are even issued by An Garda Síochána, the Guards will take every step to ask the behaviour to cease that might lead to these fines being issued.
"But in the small number of cases they will be needed, they will be issued and they will help with reducing the spread of this disease".
Main image: Justice Minister Helen McEntee at the launch of the O'Malley Review at Government Buildings in Dublin. Picture by: Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland