Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.32 18 Mar 2021


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Gardaí still don't know where they are in the vaccine queue, the AGSI says.

The group - which represents Garda sergeants and inspectors - now wants clarity for members, as they say policing during the pandemic is 'becoming more challenging' amid public fatigue over the ongoing restrictions.

The AGSI has expressed particular frustration at the situation following reports in several newspapers today that non-frontline staff in Offaly were vaccinated as there were left over doses.

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AGSI general secretary Antoinette Cunningham told The Hard Shoulder frontline gardaí will feel let down if those reports are accurate.

Gardaí still don't know where they are in vaccine queue - AGSI

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She said: “We were told at one stage we were in key group six… now we believe we’re in group ten.

“We met with the Minister for Justice this morning, and asked for the clarity we feel we should get.

"Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to provide us with that clarity - so now we’re seeking some clarity from the Taoiseach Micheál Martin.”

Priority group six currently includes 'key workers essential to the vaccine programme', while group ten covers 'key workers in essential jobs who cannot avoid a high risk of exposure'.

Ms Cunningham observed: “Why is that some non-frontline people can get vaccination in a non-operational role, and those who are out on the frontline putting life and limb at risk can’t even get clarity on even when the date for vaccination might be.

“Whose job is it to say non-frontline people should not get vaccination? Where is the governance and accountability of the vaccination programme?”

'It's becoming more challenging'

Ms Cunningham stressed that gardaí are not asking to be prioritised ahead of vulnerable people in the community or frontline health workers.

However, she said it's a 'step too far' for HSE administrative staff to be getting vaccinated before gardaí even know for sure where they are in the queue.

She said there's around 15,000 gardaí working at the moment, so it's 'not a lot of vaccinations' that would be required.

In the meantime, Ms Cunningham said frontline officers are at risk every time they respond to a hostile situation.

She was speaking the day after St Patrick's Day and a number of anti-lockdown protests in Dublin.

Ms Cunningham said: “We had a number of members who had slight injuries yesterday. We had members down in Laois who were kicked, assaulted, spat at… we had some members in Dublin receiving slight injuries as well last night.

“The policing of COVID is becoming more challenging, not less. People are impatient - public fatigue is settling in a little bit. The good weather and long evenings mean more people want to get out and about."

The Garda Representative Association has previously called for gardaí to be prioritised for vaccines.

Main image: Gardaí divert traffic at a roadblock on the main Stillorgan Road in Dublin as part of a security operation ahead of potential protests. Picture by: Damien Storan/PA Wire/PA Images

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