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Covid-19 checkpoints caused huge traffic chaos in the capital this morning with 8km tailbacks and little or no movement in snake-like queues for hours.
Thousands of gardai were deployed at locations around the country as part of the new policing operation to reduce the number of motorists on our roads.
Retired Assistant Garda Commissioner Pat Leahy said officers had reintroduced Operation Fanacht 2.0 as a deterrent and to let the public know that “something has changed”.
He added: “I think it’s really unfortunate that we find ourselves in a situation now with long tailbacks and children being late for school, people being late for work, late for appointments.
“It’s certainly not what was intended but I think what it does is send out a message to the public that something has changed.
“And it’s all about people changing their behaviour and I think the coverage it’s getting this morning really will cause people to think about the necessity for making such journeys and I think it may not be as bad for people in the coming days and potentially in the coming weeks.”
Justice Minister Helen McEntee promised extra funding for the Garda operations, which began at midnight this morning, but she did not confirm how much money will be available.
However, Mr Leahy insisted a budget for overtime had been secured and the checkpoints should have no impact on routine policing and criminal investigations.
He added: “I think people will start making decisions for themselves and say ‘Look it’s not worth it’, I’m not going to make this journey.
“And I think that’s part and parcel of what’s happening,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne.
Gardai were visible at checkpoints in Dublin on the N7 and N11 routes from early this morning as part of the ‘Level 3’ operation.
Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey visited gardai at checkpoints on the N11 where there was significant congestion as people were being encouraged to only make essential journeys.
There were massive tailbacks and lengthy checks at Blackchurch on the Dublin-Kildare border with officers manning all arterial routes around the capital.
The N4 westbound was also extremely heavy from Junction 4 Newcastle to Junction 6 Leixlip with significant 40 minute delays.
Elsewhere, the N11/M11 southbound was very slow from J16 Cherrywood on the M50 to J5 on the N11.
Parents bringing children to school and individuals travelling on educational and essential journeys are permitted to travel.
However, it is understood rising traffic levels, which increased to 80% of pre-Covid levels last week have been a source of concern.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe recently said he trusted Gardaí to use their discretion to issue fines and to tell motorists to turn back home.
And Mr Leahy stressed that was a positive sign and officers welcomed that freedom to use their initiative.
He said: “[That’s] not difficult.
“Look, first and foremost it’s a great mark of respect and trust in your police force in a democracy like ours to allow them to sue such discretion.
“They’ve done this for many years and I think they’re doing a great job and have done a great job up to now in relation to this.
“I mean we have to be cognisant of where we are in the size of our scale.
“We’re at a phase in ‘Level 3’ where we have two better ones below us and two worse ones above us.
“So, we’re right in the middle and I think the response has to be in proportion to that position.”
The reintroduced policing operation will also have a strong emphasis over the coming days and weeks on high visibility and mobile patrols.
Gardai said: “We have re-commenced Operation Fanacht as a nationwide policing operation focused on supporting public compliance with public health measures.”
This content was originally published here.