Gardaí are to be equipped with 'spit hoods' during the coronavirus crisis, the force has confirmed.
It comes amid concerns about some officers and members of the public being deliberately coughed or spat at.
The fabric and mesh 'spit hoods' are designed to be placed over a suspect's head to prevent them from spitting at others.
However, they are a controversial tool, with some rights' organisations having described them as 'dangerous and degrading'.
In a statement, An Garda Síochana said they take the health and safety of the public and officers seriously - noting that the hoods will be deployed as a temporary measure during the current outbreak.
They said: "Garda management continuously considers various forms of additional PPE which could be deployed to operational Gardaí.
"'Spit Hoods' which are currently on issue to the Irish Prison Service, and other international Police services, are currently being procured."
They add that rules and training for using the hoods will be provided to officers "prior to issuing any items".
Spitting and coughing
Recent days have seen a number of concerns raised about a number of deliberate coughing and spitting incidents.
Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday said he had been deliberately coughed at as a prank in Dublin city centre earlier this week.
Gardaí are also investigating an incident at a hospital in Dublin where a healthcare worker was spat at deliberately.
Her alleged attacker has since tested positive for COVID-19.
Gardaí are calling on people to report any instances where they have been threatened or intimidated by people deliberately coughing or spitting at them.
They are also urging people to contact the force about any such assaults rather than posting about them on social media.
Main image: File photo of a 'spit hood' placed on a mannequin's head. Picture by: Simon Sachseder/DPA/PA Images