Gardai in Donegal have set up a hotline for tips about parties, funerals and other gatherings in contravention of Covid-19 regulations.
It is what we might call a drastic measure for a drastic situation as Covid is rampant in the Ulster town.
The spread of the virus is dangerous, worrying, frightening even and is certainly a huge threat to the greater local community.
The dogs in the street know that something radical has to be done to halt the spread and to save lives.
The campaign is a matter of life and death and Gardai deserve community backing.
However pouring petrol on a fire is never a clever idea.
While Kilkenny Press fully supports the Gardai and any health bodies involved in efforts to turn off a potentially killer health storm, we fear that a hotline asking neighbours to give tip offs about other neighbours may be walking on skinny ice.
COVERT OPERATION FRAUGHT WITH DANGER
It smacks of a weapon that could so easily ricochet with unfortunate results.
The problem is that the potential cure could be just as lethal as the illness.
The covert operation may be fraught with danger.
As our history will remind us, those who involve themselves in tip offs, no matter how noble the cause, tend not to endear themselves to greater local communities.
A hotline plan also smacks of laziness.
Our Gardai should have enough faith in themselves to believe that they can solve this problem without any third parties.
Broadening an operation to ask the public to help has to involve huge discipline and absolute secrecy as any accidental slip of a tongue or error in providing information could cause chaos.
Trained rank and file Gardai should be capable of solving problems like this.
Our belief is that most would prefer to tackle this tricky situation as a force rather than to involve any innocents who could unfortunately end up as victims.
A promise from the Gardai is that any information given will be treated in strict confidence and there is no obligation for hotline callers to identify him or herself.
Covid figures in Donegal would suggest that mavericks may now be putting the lives of many others at risk.
Similar sorts of tell-tale schemes are used by some in the insurance industry calling on neighbours to wig an official ear if spotting an insurance scam.
That too should be discouraged as the wealthy insurance industry should have enough money to fund its own security/investigative teams rather than putting others into any a possible firing line.
Should the manure hit the fan, would the insurance industry stand up and be counted?
Opening a hotline to try to solve what is admittedly a huge public problem in Donegal just may be a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.