Garda reform plan: RSA unhappy that road safety not mentioned

Murdock says roads policing ‘doesn’t feature’ and believes it should have ‘equal priority’

 Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the   Road Safety Authority said road safety has been excluded from the new Garda reform plan.  Photograph: Sara Freund/The Irish Times

Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority said road safety has been excluded from the new Garda reform plan. Photograph: Sara Freund/The Irish Times

 

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) said is concerned that roads policing “does not get a mention” in radical new plans to reshape An Garda Síochána.

Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the RSA said she was told “informally” that the role of Assistant Commissioner for Roads Policing will be removed under the new structure.

Ms Murdock said the RSA has asked for an “urgent meeting” with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, who announced plans to restructure the force on Thursday, to discuss its implications for road safety.

“There is no mention of what role the current Assistant Commissioner for Roads Policing will have nor what sort of strategic plan they have in place to deal with the changes in this area,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Friday.

“They have called out a number of key functional areas within this plan and roads policing doesn’t feature in it as far as the Road Safety Authority is concerned. We believe that it should be just as equal priority as some of those new areas.

“I have been advised, at a different meeting, that we will be losing the Assistant Commissioner for Roads Policing and we weren’t consulted in the actual plan itself and obviously the Garda Commissioner is responsible for operational management of the force.”

Ms Murdock acknowledged there “could well be” an increase in the number of gardaí policing roads but added “it’s not just about numbers here it’s about where and how they are deployed”.

“The Roads Policing role in An Garda Síochána has always been the poor relation and they’ve always struggled to get the adequate resources to effectively police the roads,” she said.

Ms Murdock said she would like to hear from the Garda Commissioner to ensure “roads policing and a role for an Assistant Commissioner of Roads Policing is a consideration in this plan because it does put at risk all of the progress we have made”.

Separately, Ms Murdock said an “extensive survey” was carried out for a report commissioned by the RSA on electric scooters.

“It is quite clear they’re illegal to be used on Irish roads and in the UK and we recognise that there is a ground as well as a desire to have them out there and we are saying that if this continues and they are to be legalised, we would make certain recommendations as to how to protect the road-using public,” she said.

“The Minister is considering our recommendations and I believe there will be further consultation with the public and that we will try to bring a conclusion in the near future.”

Ms Murdock said footpaths and infrastructure are a “major consideration” and investment would be required.

“They can only be used safely whenever there is segregated traffic and that they are used appropriately,” she added.

“If they are to be made legal, we will have to make some tough decisions in terms of investment. We will also have to look at the current road traffic legislation because they are not legislated for, they are not permitted...They’re not defined.”