Gardaí are set to begin using ‘spit guards’ as personal protection from assaults during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over 16,000 faceshields have been ordered for gardaí to cover the faces of suspects to prevent them from spitting, coughing or biting at others.
The devices, which are currently on issue to the Irish Prison Service, are set to be deployed as a temporary measure in the coming days.
It follows an incident in Sligo where a woman was sentenced to four weeks in prison yesterday evening for coughing at gardaí.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the ‘spit guards’ will be used where there is a credible threat to the safety of gardaí and members of the public.
“They will be introduced for duration of the crisis, they will be used very sparingly in very specific circumstances but they are our further option in terms of personal protective equipment,” the Commissioner said.
Sligo – Leitrim Fine Gael T.D. Frank Feighan has welcomed the incoming order of protective guards. He said: “I, like most people, was shocked and sadden to hear of the incident which took place in Sligo this week, where a woman willingly and with intent chose to cough at local gardai trying to enforce the social distancing requirements in the town. The person in question was subsequently arrested, charged and jailed under new laws provided to the gardai under the emergency legislation this week.
“No Garda member should have to face this level of harm without the proper supports in place to deal with it!
“It is hard to understand how a person would choose to act in this way during such a national crisis. However, as an incident such as this has now occurred, I feel that our local police force now needs better protection and support from this sort of threat going forward.”