Legislation on quads and scramblers must be prioritised – Dessie Ellis TD
Speaking after a man was seriously injured by a scrambler bike Darndale Park at the weekend, Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis has called on the Government to allow time for his legislation to be enacted which would enable Gardaí to deal with the problem of quads and scramblers in local communities.
Speaking today Deputy Ellis continued;
“Communities are effectively being terrorised by those who are using quads and scrambler motorbikes in public places, especially in public parks. It was only a matter of time when an innocent person was going to be seriously injured by the irresponsible actions of those who have no regard for the safety of families and others who use these public parks.
“In a shocking incident in Darndale Park a man was seriously injured by a person riding a scrambler motorbike.
“This has been a major problem in many areas and I have received over the last number of weeks reports of quads and scramblers being used in Tolka Valley Park, along Balbriggan Beach, Donabate, Portmarnock and many other public parks around Dublin. It is an ever increasing problem and the Gardaí seem powerless to stop it.
“Families and communities are unable to enjoy a weekend at the park without fearing for their safety. In many of our towns and estates you can see vehicles like quads, dirt bikes and scramblers are repeatedly being used by some to damage property, threaten people and cause a lot of other antisocial problems for the local community.
“Last year myself and Deputy Imelda Munster, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Transport, submitted a Bill to amend the Road Traffic Act 1994, which would allow Gardaí to deal effectively with quad and scrambler users who continuously flout the rules of the road and do not have a licence , insurance and registration.
“The law as it stands prohibits the use of these ATVs on public roads unless fully insured and taxed and should meet other regulatory requirements including the rules of the road. However, there is a gap in the legislation which allows people who use these vehicles for anti-social behaviour to sidestep Gardaí in public spaces and avoid any penalties.
“As legislation now stands, Gardaí have found that the use of quad bikes and scramblers by minors and youths in public parks has proven difficult to deal with from an enforcement perspective.
“Gardaí have no power to confiscate and keep vehicles engaged in this antisocial behaviour on greens, parks and so on. This is an issue I have highlighted on many occasions.
“Perversely housing estate greens and parks are not considered public property or a public road. In 2012 I introduced a Bill called the Misuse of Vehicles in Public Spaces. This Bill was opposed by the Fine Gael Minister at the time who, on advice, deemed it unnecessary.
“The current situation means that many vehicles seized by Gardai in parks and unused ground have to be returned to the registered owner and the Gardaí cannot fine or sanction the owners as the current legislation does not consider these areas as a public space and they are not in breach of the law.
“The Bill myself and Deputy Munster introduced last year will extend the powers that the Gardaí have to parks and greens by expanding the definition of the public space in regards to the road traffic act. This will mean that Gardaí can deal with vehicles being used illegally in these spaces.
“Our amendment aims to deal with two issues missing in current legislation. Firstly, we aim to extend the definition of public space in the road traffic act to include parks, greens and unused ground.
“Secondly, we want to give Gardaí the ability to impound quads and Bikes that are used illegally in private property such as parks and greens, etc."