The Government has published legislation detailing fines for people who hold house parties during the pandemic.

In the case of an offence, somebody found guilty could be subject to a maximum fine of €1,000 and/or up to one month in prison. 

The legislation also states that the occupier of a home where an alleged offence occurred will be presumed to be the "event organiser".

People on their way to a house party or gathering and who refuse to leave the area in a peaceful manner when requested to do so by gardaí could face a fine of up to €1,000 or a one month prison term.

The legislation also makes a provision for a fixed penalty of up to €500 for certain offences.

These are understood to include failure to wear a mask on public transport or in a shop or exceeding the 5km limit during Level 5 without justification. 

While the legislation provides for these fines, their implementation will depend on the regulations set out by the Minister for Health. 

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The President of the Garda Representative Association said the enforcement of fines for will be used as a last resort by gardai who will continue to police by consent as Level 5 restrictions take effect. 

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Detective Garda Jim Mulligan said the GRA met senior garda management this morning to discuss the new powers. 

He said it is not yet clear if fines would be on-the-spot and issued by post or by the courts. 

He said the vast majority of people were very compliant with the initial lockdown, although there have been recent occasions where people have acted recklessly, in particular at house parties. 

Earlier, Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors General Secretary Antoinette Cunningham warned that the legislation could "cause difficulties".

In a statement she said: "We remain concerned about the practicalities of issuing on-the-spot fines in relation to house parties and other matters."

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Ms Cunningham said spot fines should not be a panacea to all Covid-related policing issues.

She said that the AGSI "don't believe it has been considered enough" and is "not sure what the consultative process around this was".

Ms Cunningham said that the "explain, engage and encourage" model of policing had worked well to date in the majority of cases and An Garda Síochána had had a lot of success with it.

She said the 5km travel limit is the easiest thing for gardaí to police as it is supported by road traffic legislation, but that "steering into policing house parties and protests... it becomes vague and ambiguous". 


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Speaking on the same programme, Executive Director of the Irish Council of Civil Liberties Liam Herrick said a change in approach to policing may risk the public buy-in that has been gained to date. 

Mr Herrick said the imposition of fines in the UK and in Northern Ireland has not been effective in changing the behaviour of those who were not complying with public health. 

Evidence from the UK and Northern Ireland shows that half of people who received a fine have not paid it, he said. 

He said compliance in Ireland has been "very high" since March and there has been a healthy relationship between the public and gardaí. 

"This is public health, this is not crime," he said. 

Meanwhile, the Minister for Finance said today was a "tough, tough day", but those closing their businesses and losing their jobs will be supported.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Paschal Donohoe said substantial changes have been made to the wage subsidy scheme to support employers and, in addition, a cash payment will be made to closed businesses of up to approximately 10% of their turnover per week.

He said he expects that the country will move back to Level 3 in December and the wage subsidy scheme and the Covid Restriction Support Scheme will be maintained up until January. 

The minister said he absolutely supports the move to Level 5, but also thoroughly interrogated the proposition and the concerns presented by healthcare officials. 

He said he "challenged at length" different views and data that were presented to the Government, but is "absolutely satisfied" that this is the safest course of action. 

Mr Donohoe said there are two pillars to the Government approach to Covid-19; to redouble efforts to reduce transmission and to bring the transmission rate to an R number of below one, while also supporting employers and employees.

Additional reporting David Murphy and Micheál Lehane