Investigation launched into party at garda station during Level 5 restrictions
…Investigation launched into party at garda station during Level 5 restrictions
An internal garda inquiry is under way into a social gathering at Tramore garda station to celebrate the promotion of an officer.
The social gathering, which took place in mid-November at the Co Waterford station during Level 5 restrictions, is now being investigated by a chief superintendent from outside the district.
Two gardaí who attended the event later tested positive for Covid-19.
The senior investigating officer will seek to establish whether the event was organised or impromptu. If it was deemed to have been organised then this is a breach of Covid-19 regulations under Level 5 restrictions and gardaí will consult with the DPP on potential sanctions.
It is understood that a large number of officers gathered together in the station to celebrate news of the promotion of a fellow officer. In the subsequent days two gardaí tested positive for Covid-19. They did not contract Covid-19 at the garda social gathering, it was later established.
However, as part of the contact tracing process, the officers divulged their attendance at the event. This led to garda management being informed of the gathering, which prompted the high-level probe
It is not believed that any officers who were not working that day attended the celebration or that any alcohol was consumed. A garda spokesman told the Sunday Independent an internal investigation is now under way.
A source said the situation is embarrassing.
“This was not some sort of raging party at the station by any means. It was something that happened during a working day, which probably shouldn’t have.
“But the restrictions were then in place for a reason. It is of course extremely important for gardaí themselves to set the highest standard and abide by the rules since we are the ones enforcing them on the rest of society.
“So this is somewhat embarrassing, especially considering gardaí are investigating RTÉ over a similar matter.”
A separate source said garda management had “no issue whatsoever” with initiating an immediate investigation.
Security sources acknowledge there has been a “sea-change” in An Garda Síochána’s approach to discipline under Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.
“A chief superintendent has been appointed and an investigation is under way.The crux of the matter will be to establish whether the event was organised or not,” added a source.
The chief superintendent will seek to establish if the event at the station may have breached Section 8 of the Health Act (1947) Temporary Restrictions for Covid-19 Regulations 2020.
The legislation states that “a person shall not organise or cause to be organised” a social or recreational event unless it is held outdoors and “all reasonable steps” are taken to ensure that it is attended by people living in no more than two households.
The penalties on conviction for breaching the regulation are a fine of up to €2,500 and/or six months in prison.