The Government has confirmed that new powers for gardaí, contained in emergency Covid-19 legislation passed by the Dáil last week, have yet to be transferred to the force.

A spokesperson said that the "associated regulations are being finalised".

The powers, which were announced two weeks ago, relate to enforcing limits on public gatherings.

The legislation was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins last week but cannot be enforced by An Garda Síochána unless the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, signs the regulations.

The spokesperson said: "The gardaí already have extensive powers of enforcement and the focus of their activity is on encouraging people to adhere to the public health measures in place to help stop the spread of Covid-19."

They added: "As the Garda Commissioner has said, their approach is to 'inform, engage and encourage'. This is proving very effective and the vast majority of the public are being responsible.

"Legislation providing further powers - should they be needed - has been passed by the Oireachtas. The associated regulations are being finalised," they added.

The statement did not indicate, however, why the transfer of powers was taking longer than expected.

The legislation allows the State to shut down mass gatherings and to potentially order groups of people in certain areas to stay in their homes.

There are regulations too that would allow for the detention of a person and empower authorities to shut down house parties.