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03 Oct 2022

Lough Derg stilled by Garda patrols

Lough Derg stilled by Garda patrols

Gardai have been patrolling the lake with a fast boat to enforce the Covid-19 restrictions

Although the inviting waters and scenic landscape around Lough Derg are a tourist's paradise during the recent spell of good weather - visitors to the lake have been turned back by a new Garda speed-boat patrolling the area during the Covid-19 crisis.

Earlier this month Gardaí put their emergency powers into action on Lough Derg, encouraging cruisers, motor boats and alike to stay at home. Terryglass Angling & Conservation Club informed its members Gardaí are now patrolling the lake with a fast boat to enforce the Covid-19 restrictions and advised their members and visitors to stay off the water as they will “not get away”.

Under Operation Fanacht, which continues until Tuesday May 18 and will see multiple road checkpoints set up around the country with focus on beauty spots such as Lough Derg, Gardaí have the power to detain anyone found in breach of movement measures — which include travel beyond a 5km radius of one’s home being restricted to essential reasons.

Operation Fanacht extends to the country's waterways, which normally would see a massive influx of visitors during the early summer sunny days, but currently are stilled by the presence of the new Garda patrol boat.

Lakeside villages in North Tipperary like Terryglass and Dromineer are devoid of visitors, as is Portumna marina and other popular stop-offs for people cruising the Shannon. Last week Gardaí confirmed the Garda Water Unit engaged with inland waterways users while on patrol on Lough Derg over in recent weeks, which saw unseasonably warm temperatures and sunshine.

The Garda Press Office said Gardaí had been in the Terryglass area and had engaged with boat owners, but that “no issues have been reported”.

The engagement followed the sighting of sail boats in the vicinity of Garrykennedy at the southern shore of Lough Derg, roughly midway between Dromineer and Mountshannon in county Clare. Photographs of the sail boats were circulated on social media and provoked some anger among residents of the lakeside villages, where many businesses depend on visitors to the lake but restrictions have been carefully observed.

There were also reports of a motor cruiser on the lake in the Portumna area of east Galway and anecdotal reports on social media of a motor cruiser sighted on the north Shannon, north of Carrick-on-Shannon, in Co Leitrim were also investigated.

The Gardaí said they have adopted “a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent. This has seen Garda members engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.”

Meanwhile, the allure of water was impossible to resist for three men who used their jetskis near Achill Island recently, which were seized by Gardaí.

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