Legal ‘grey area’ preventing clampdown on scramblers and quad bikes

Gardaí to appeal to parents not to buy bikes at Christmas as they are a danger to public

The law is unclear on whether gardaí have powers to stop scramblers and quad bikes being used in public parks

The law is unclear on whether gardaí have powers to stop scramblers and quad bikes being used in public parks

 

Gardaí are unable to stop the dangerous use of quad bikes and scramblers in public parks because of a grey area in the law.

The anti-social use of the bikes by youths has been a cause of significant frustration for Dublin communities in recent years because of the injuries they cause to pedestrians and the damage they do to public parks and playing fields.

The issue was brought into sharp focus last June when Ilabek Avetian (39) was left in a vegetative state after a scrambler hit him while he was sunbathing with his wife in Darndale Park in north Dublin.

Following the tragedy there were renewed calls for legislation to allow gardaí stop and seize such vehicles when they are being used illegally. The victim’s wife, Anzhela Kotsinian, said the use of scramblers in public parks should be made illegal.

There is no issue with enforcing the law when these bikes are on public roads, Assistant Garda Commissioner for the Dublin Region Pat Leahy said. “To use them on the public roads they have to have everything a normal biker or car would have.”

However, the law is unclear on whether gardaí have powers to stop bikes being used in public parks. Under the Road Traffic Act, most parks are private. However, under the Public Order Act they are public.

“So it’s about what law you use to engage them,” Mr Leahy told the Dublin City Joint Policing Committee on Tuesday.

Clearer legislation

He said the Garda is currently taking legal advice on the matter. Dublin city councillors used the meeting to call for stricter and clearer legislation to allow gardaí address the issue.

“Most areas of Dublin are blighted by this,” Independent councillor Cieran Perry said.

More and more people are buying them as Christmas presents. They’re not Christmas presents

It is understood the Attorney General has been asked by the Government to examine the various laws covering the area with a view to introducing amending legislation.

The Garda and Dublin City Council are also planning on running a publicity campaign shortly on the dangers of the bikes, with a particular focus on stopping parents buying them for their children at Christmas.

If parents insist on buying the bikes they will be given information on how they should be used safely and legally, the meeting heard.

“More and more people are buying them as Christmas presents,” Cllr Daithí de Róiste said. “They’re not Christmas presents.”

There were also calls from councillors on Tuesday to ask Dublin shops not to stock the items at Christmas and for private security guards to be hired for parks.

Bonfire material

Separately, the committee heard the most recent Halloween was one of the most successful in recent years from a public order point of view. This was due to a combination of various family-friendly public events and an effective operation to confiscate bonfire material before October 31st.

Mr Leahy said reported crime in the Dublin area was down 26 per cent compared to Halloween 2017. The council and gardaí seized 250 tonnes of bonfire material before Halloween night, while the helpline to report stockpiled material received 600 calls.

The assistant commissioner said some of the methods used to hide bonfire material were “ingenious”, including tractor tires being weighed down below the surface of the canal to conceal them.

Most areas of the capital reported a quieter night compared to previous years. However, there were significant disturbances in Drimnagh and Crumlin, where gardaí came under attack. During the night gardaí did not go into Eamonn Ceannt Park on their own or in pairs due to safety concerns.

Local sources said the anti-social violence in the area has been building for a while and suggested it may be a result of criminal gangs stirring up local youths to intimidate the community.