Two arrested as the net tightens on Kerry border

Two men were arrested for breaching COVID regulations on Monday evening as they attempted to slip through the garda net near Headley’s Bridge in Knocknagoshel.

The pair were unable to provide a valid reason for travelling from Dublin into Kerry when they were stopped at the fixed checkpoint now operating at the county bounds with Limerick on the N21 at Headley’s Bridge.

However, in a sign of how tight the garda traffic net has been pulled since the country went into Level Five restrictions last week, the pair were picked up moments later attempting to slip in on a byroad nearby.

The Kerryman understands that the two men were trying to get to Castleisland. They were arrested on their second attempt of flouting the lockdown and taken to Tralee Garda Station, from where they have since been released without charge.

A file is now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions into what is believed to be one of the few instances of an attempt to flout the travel provisions of the Level Five restrictions in Kerry.

Crime is meanwhile at an all-time low amid the heavy garda presence on the national, regional and local roads of the county periphery, with burglaries and related offences at minimal levels.

Gardaí have been widely commended for their community-focused approach to the Level Five policing, with the ‘light touch’ expected to remain even as legislation providing for on-the-spot breaches of the ban on non-essential inter-county travel comes into effect this week.

Enforcement will be as a ‘last resort’ according to gardaí in Kerry, echoing Garda HQ policy as stated in a briefing at the outset of the new restrictions last week. Compliance with the regulations in Kerry remains almost full, with inter-county travel essential in almost all cases.

Speaking last week Commissioner Drew Harris said: “There was very good compliance by the public with the travel restrictions when they were in place before. It is vital that we see that high level of compliance again this time. The public-health advice is clear. This will help save lives. In particular, we would ask people to think about their journeys and not exercise or travel outside the 5km limit unless it meets the essential criteria.

“An Garda Síochána is continuing with our graduated response based on our tradition of policing by consent.

“This is a difficult time for everybody, but if we all work together we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our families, friends and neighbours.” – News