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Gardai boost presence near chemists and shops

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Health Minister Simon Harris, Tanaiste Simon Coveney and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan at a media briefing. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Health Minister Simon Harris, Tanaiste Simon Coveney and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan at a media briefing. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Health Minister Simon Harris, Tanaiste Simon Coveney and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan at a media briefing. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Gardai will patrol shops and pharmacies as part of crowd-control measures in the wake of coronavirus restrictions.

Senior management in Dublin have directed officers to focus on the "environs of supermarkets and chemists" following widespread bulk-buying in stores across the city.

The measure is being taken to reassure communities that gardai "will maintain order to engage with members of the community to reduce any fears".

The directive was issued by the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) yesterday.

Gardai will also help with facilitating the resupply of shops.

Queues

"All resources should be used to optimise and reassure the communities by providing a uniformed presence on the street," the directive says.

Sources have also told the Herald that garda public order units will be deployed round the clock across the six Dublin divisions over the coming weeks.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is offering the force's training college at Templemore, Co Tipperary, to the HSE for use as a field hospital.

The offer is likely to be accepted as part of a contingency plan being drawn up to deal with an upsurge in coronavirus patients if hospitals cannot cope with the numbers affected at the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The cells area of one of the biggest garda stations in the country remained in lockdown last night as gardai awaited results to determine if three arrested men have the virus.

The situation means that over a dozen officers based at the affected stations - Kevin Street and Store Street - are in self-isolation after coming in contact with men who may have the deadly virus.

The officers had been dealing with three Brazilian men who had allegedly flown into the country illegally from Portugal.

Last night, it emerged that the cell area of Store Street had been declared "safe" after it was sterilised.

In a bizarre development in a northside Dublin garda station, a superintendent has issued a bulletin to gardai in saying that CCTV footage has been seized as part of an internal investigation into the disappearance of a "large quantity of anti-bacterial items".

"I am now requesting that anyone who may have removed items from this order to anonymously return the items to the staff office so they can be distributed evenly among the station party for their protection," the senior officer wrote.

In an even stranger development, senior gardai say that a directive ordered by a superintendent based in the north-west of the country has been "rescinded".

The directive advised, among other things, that all garda checkpoints should be cancelled and that "only essential incidents are to be recorded on the Pulse".

"This directive has been rescinded - it was not deemed practicable," a senior source said last night.

In a further twist, it can also be revealed that all superintendents who were due to retire in the coming weeks and months have been asked by Garda HQ to stay in their jobs for the next three months.

Separately, in a letter seen by the Herald, members of the Defence Forces have been instructed to have their backpacks in barracks from Monday and to be packed and ready for deployment with an "immediate notice to move".

"All non-essential activities have been suspended," the Def-ence Forces said in a statement.