A staggering 750 gardai are off work or self-isolating due to Covid-19, the Irish Mirror can reveal.
Garda chiefs have been forced to redeploy officers – including members of the Garda Band – in a desperate bid to plug the gap.
The Garda Representative Association is now calling for members to be given priority for the coronavirus vaccine.
GRA vice president Brendan O’Connor warned: “There is anxiety on the frontline. Gardai feel vulnerable to infection.”
According to figures released by the GRA, at least 100 officers of an estimated 12,500 working on the frontline have contracted the virus since Christmas.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is now redeploying officers, including those in the Garda Band, back to frontline duties.
The decision is understood to have been made on Friday for 76 members of the force, including those of inspector and sergeant rank, to be deployed on Monday.
In Dublin alone an estimated 250 members of the force are out of work with the highest numbers in the west Dublin region, with 30 infected and a further 90 isolating.
While the north Dublin region has 85 officers off self-isolating, of which six are infected with more expected.
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And in the Dublin North region there are 70 isolating of which 21 have been confirmed as having the bug.
Outside of Dublin, Limerick has the second highest number of gardai out with 95 self-isolating, of which 13 are infected.
And in Cork City there are 55 self-isolating with 15 of them being confirmed as having Covid.
Garda O’Connor said there is an understandable level of anxiety among frontline members.
He said: “Policing the country at a time of pandemic has been a unique experience for most gardai.
“We are proud to play or part and it has allowed us to focus on a style of policing that is reflective of the fact that gardai have always been seen as part of the communities we serve.
“While there are some positives, there is understandable anxiety on the frontline.
“We never know who or what we will be called to and many of the calls we attend are complaints of non-compliance with Covid guidelines.
“Not only can we not restrict our interactions with others, we are duty-bound to meet and engage with people who are being reckless and not taking precautions.
“It is often said that alcohol is a friend of the virus and again where will you find gardai?
“Anywhere people are congregating and consuming alcohol. Gardaí feel vulnerable to infection and the worry of taking it home to families is a big worry.”