Ireland

TD warns of ‘class bias’ as half of Covid-19 fines in Dublin issued in just two areas

Half of all Covid-19 fines dished out in Dublin were given in just two Garda districts, with 77% of those issued nationwide given to people aged under 35.

Figures released to People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy by justice minister Heather Humphreys show that, of 6,066 fines in the capital, 2,910 were given out in the Ballymun and Blanchardstown districts — 1,859 in for the former, and 1,051 in the latter.

That is compared to just 75 in Dun Laoghaire and 88 in Terenure, leading Mr Murphy to say that there is “disproportionate targeting” of working-class areas.

“There is a lot of evidence here that there is a class bias,” he said. “All of what happened over the weekend [in urban areas] is linked to class: 

If you don’t have a garden you need a public space and that comes down to class. 

“The fact that 77% of those fined are under 35 suggests another bias.

“There is a lot of local discretion in how this is policed, but that means a lot of unconscious bias can creep in. I think there needs to be a national policy not to be using these fines in presumably most of these instances. If the areas with low rates can get by, why can’t Blanchardstown and Ballymun?”

Fewer fines where biggest gatherings took place 

The figures in the two areas also vastly exceed the number of fines given out in Dublin City centre garda stations, despite the number of mass gatherings seen in the capital. In Store St, 517 have been given out, while Pearse St has seen 229. Kevin St has issued 414, Fitzgibbon St 224, and the Bridewell just 84.

While the Blanchardstown LEA has a Covid-19 14-day incidence of 325.7 per 100,000, that is lower than Newbridge in Kildare where it is 414.3. However, the Kildare Garda district has issued just 131 fines in total, despite Kildare entering a level 5 lockdown like Dublin last year.

Contrast between garda divisions

Blanchardstown is the largest garda district by population in the country, taking in Finglas and Cabra and 178,000 people. However, Tallaght, the next largest district, issued just 194 fines.

In Cork, Anglesea Street, which covers Blackrock and the Bridewell as well as the city centre, UCC and the Lough, issued 940 fines, with 646 in the Togher region and 323 in Mayfield. Limerick’s Henry St issued 909.

A Garda spokesperson said that “all members of An Garda Síochána carry out their duties in an ethical manner”.

“When they are faced with an incident it is dealt with and a prosecution is pursued on the evidence and merits of the case that they encounter.”

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