Republic of Ireland news

Determination in border areas to make lockdown work this time

Gardaí are mounting temporary "static" checkpoints on main border crossings, including at Muff (pictured) in Co Donegal, with mobile patrols on minor roads
Seamus McKinney

THERE is a greater determination now in border areas to make lockdowns work, Donegal mayor Rena Donaghey has said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced yesterday that Covid restrictions are to be extended until the start of March.

However, the Irish government stopped short of demands by Labour party leader Alan Kelly that gardaí carry out checks within 5km of the border to clamp down on crossings from the north.

Mr Kelly called for a “national aggressive” suppression of the spread of coronavirus.

Gardaí unveiled more plans for checkpoints yesterday under Operation Fanacht (Operation Stay).

A spokesman said: “An Garda Síochána will be commencing static checkpoints under Operation Fanacht. These will be on national routes (not motorways) supported by random local mobile checkpoints designed to support the Stay Home/Stay Safe message.”

Along the border between Derry, Strabane and Donegal – which once had the worst Covid-19 rates on the island – gardaí appear to be maintaining checkpoint routines established during the first lockdown last year.

This involves temporary static checkpoints on main border crossing points at different times of the day, with officers engaging with motorists.

There has also been a marked increase in mobile patrols on the various minor roads which criss-cross the border as well as “high visibility patrolling” at key locations such as scenic areas and parks.

Short-term static checkpoints were put in place on the Muff and Bridgend border crossings yesterday.

Buncrana-based Fianna Fáil councillor Mrs Donaghey said people appear more accepting of restrictions now than they did last year.

“I'm certainly picking up that people are saying get it right now; stick with the lockdown until things are sorted and stop this 'one steps out and the other steps in again' system that we did have.”

The Co Donegal mayor said major towns in the county are much quieter and fewer people are crossing the border.

“You can see it in places like Buncrana and Letterkenny; you can feel the quietness and certainly there's not nearly as many northern cars around. I think people are more afraid now and there's a greater realisation that we must abide by the rules, even among younger people.”

Mrs Donaghey said anger displayed in some quarters last year over cross-border travel had subsided although people still wanted an all-island approach to the crisis.

“People think that's the only sensible option,” she said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Republic of Ireland news