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Question

777. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Justice the number and value of fines by type or grounds issued in 2020 under the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 and Health (Amendment) Act 2020 and consequent regulations in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16393/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will be aware, An Garda Síochána is responsible for policing the public health regulations made under the Health Act 1947.
An Garda Síochána continue to use the 'Four E's' approach in line with their strong tradition of community policing and policing by consent. This sees Garda members Engage with, Encourage and Educate members of the public on public health advice and regulations, with Enforcement used only as a last resort.
The Health (Amendment) Act 2020, which amended the Health Act 1947, was signed into law by the President on 25 October 2020. Regulations providing for a new system of fines under the Act were subsequently signed by the Minister for Health on 21 November 2020. The Act allows for a system of fixed charge notices for those found in breach of those COVID-19 regulations which have been designated as penal provisions. It also allows for a speedier system of fines, without the requirement for the person to be brought before the Courts and prosecuted, up to a maximum of €500 and a person has 28 days to pay the fine after it is issued.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the table below shows the number of fines issued in 2020.

Fine Type 2020
Event Organisers (Dwelling and Non-Dwelling) (€500) 5
Non-wearing of face coverings (€80) 18
Total 23

The Deputy will also be aware that on 29 January 2021, S.I. 30/2021 introduced further fixed charge notices for non-essential international travel.
At present the following fines can currently be issued:
- €500 fine for a person engaged in travel to an airport/port without a reasonable excuse (Health (Amendment) Act 2021 provides for increase to €2,000);
- €500 fine for a person organising a house party;
- €150 fine for a person found attending house parties;
- €100 fine for a person engaged in travel without reasonable excuse;
- €100 fine for non-essential cross-border travel in this jurisdiction;
- €80 fine for not wearing face coverings in certain locations.
As of 25 March 2021, a total of 16,434 fines had been issued. Weekly updates in relation to the total number of COVID-19 related fines and the numbers in each Garda division are published every Friday on the Garda website. These statistics can be accessed at:
https://www.garda.ie/en/about-us/our-departments/office-of-corporate-communications/news-media/coronavirus-covid-19-.html