Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Jim O’ Callaghan has said that anyone caught spitting or coughing at someone deliberately must feel the full force of the law given the gravity of such actions during the COVID-19 crisis.
Gardaí are currently conducting three criminal investigations into incidents where emergency service employees have been coughed at or spat at in the course of their work.
Deputy O’Callaghan said: “The vast majority of people are shocked at the actions of a small number of reckless people deliberately coughing and spitting at others during the escalating COVID-19 health crisis. This is clearly criminal behaviour and constitutes assault, a threat to cause serious harm and endangerment which are all criminal offences under the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997.
“It is vital that anyone engaging in this criminal behaviour feels the full force of the law. They should be arrested and prosecuted given the serious impact their idiotic behaviour could have on the health of others. I fully support the Gardaí who have issued a warning that people deliberately “coughing” at other people in public will be prosecuted for a criminal offence. I also believe that the courts will deal severely with anyone convicted of such a serious offence and will take into account the on-going health crisis in our country.
“It is my understanding that Garda Headquarters has ordered thousands of spit hoods to protect gardaí from spit and cough assaults while policing during the Covid-19 outbreak. Gardaí are calling on the public to directly report any such instances to them and not to recirculate such reports on social media. This is simply giving publicity to criminal acts which must be stamped out immediately.
“Our front-line health care workers and gardaí assisting in the COVID-19 should be protected and allowed to do their job without having to fear spit and cough attacks,” concluded Deputy O’Callaghan.