Gardaí investigate video of child on scrambler bike hitting lamp post

Several serious incidents involving off-road motorbikes reported over Christmas

Video shows a child in pyjamas with a soother in his mouth on a  small off-road motorbike crashing into a lamppost. Photograph: Getty

Video shows a child in pyjamas with a soother in his mouth on a small off-road motorbike crashing into a lamppost. Photograph: Getty

 

Gardaí are investigating an incident involving a young child on a mini scrambler bike crashing into a pole in Dublin.

A video of the incident, which is believed to have been shot in a residential area of Ballymun, shows a child in pyjamas with a soother in his mouth getting on the small off-road motorbike with the assistance of a man standing behind him.

The vehicle then quickly accelerates and hits a lamp post at speed, throwing the child head first into the post.

The footage has been shared widely in Ireland and internationally on social media in recent days, drawing widespread condemnation of the child’s parents and concern for his safety.

The date of the video is unknown but it was first uploaded to social media on Christmas Day.

A Garda spokesman said investigations are ongoing into the video. Tusla the Child and Family Agency said it does not comment on individual cases but urged anyone with concerns about child endangerment to contact their duty social work office.

There have been several other serious incidents involving scramblers and quad bikes in Dublin since Christmas Day.

On Wednesday, a pregnant woman was hit by someone riding a scrambler in Summerhill; on Christmas night, off-road bikes were used to destroy playing pitches on Benmadigan Road in Drimnagh; and in Ballymun a quad-bike was involved a serious crash involving two cars.

Gardaí had pleaded with parents not to buy their children off-road motorbikes for Christmas this year due to the dangers involved. The bikes have been linked to significant anti-social behaviour in recent years, which tends to peak around Christmas time.

The bikes are not road-legal and can only be used on private land. Otherwise, there are no regulations or age limits governing their use.

Latest figures provided by the Road Safety Authority show there have been five deaths and 45 injuries involving at least one quad bike or scrambler between 2014 and 2018.

Legislation

Earlier this year Garda Commissioner Drew Harris asked the Department of Justice to consider new legislation to grant the force powers to seize and detain such vehicles and prosecute riders for careless or dangerous driving.

However the Attorney General advised the Government no new legislation is needed to address the issue. The Government is now considering the Garda’s submissions.

Much of the anti-social behaviour involving quad bikes and scramblers takes place in public parks. Gardaí have said previously they are unable to stop their use in parks because of a legal grey area.

Under the Road Traffic Act, most parks are private. However, under the Public Order Act they are public places.

Garda sources said members on patrol are extremely reluctant to give chase to young people illegally riding the bikes on public roads due to safety concerns.

Quad and scrambler bikes – which come in children’s sizes and sell for as little as €200 online – were cited as the biggest safety concern for Finglas residents in a survey conducted by the Finglas Safety Forum earlier this year.

Seventy-six per cent of residents of the north Dublin suburb said the bikes and the associated anti-social behaviour were a matter of serious concern, far more than the number of people concerned about drug dealers (58 per cent) or vandalism (52 per cent).

“They are putting people’s lives in danger: children, adults and older people, the real problem is that they ride them on the footpath at speed and you just have to get out of their way,” one resident said.

Over 65 per cent of residents said they did not feel safe using parks in the evening.

“The scramblers in Tolka Valley Park ruin our community and endanger healthy active lifestyle of locals. They terrify innocent families,” a respondent said.

Sources said a specialist motorcycle garda, nicknamed “The Terminator”, was having significant success in chasing and seizing scrambler bikes in the Finglas area this year but that he has since been reassigned.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Keith Connolly who represents Finglas, Glasnevin and Ballymun said working-class areas bear the brunt of the problem. He said pro-active policing plans, along with legislative reform are needed to address the issue.