Shane Ross ‘strongly asked’ for constituent’s clamping fine to be reconsidered

Minister for Transport made representations to transport authority on woman’s behalf

Shane Ross wrote to the National Transport Authority after one of his constituents had her car clamped, according to letters released under the Freedom of Information Acts. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Shane Ross wrote to the National Transport Authority after one of his constituents had her car clamped, according to letters released under the Freedom of Information Acts. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross wrote to the National Transport Authority (NTA) after one of his constituents had her car clamped to “strongly ask” it to reconsider the penalty she faced.

Letters released under the Freedom of Information Acts show Mr Ross contacted the State agency, which is answerable to him, after the woman found her car immobilised at Stillorgan Luas station car park on February 10th last.

It appears from the correspondence that she had typed in the wrong registration number for her car when paying for her parking by text message, and her appeal to the car park operators NCPS was rejected. Declamping fees cost up to €125.

Anne Graham, chief executive of the NTA, personally responded to Mr Ross to say his constituent could have appealed again to a “clamping appeals officer” after her original effort was dismissed. She said there was a “two-stage appeals process” against car clamping but second appeals must be made within 30 days of the original rejection.

Clamping in the capital generated some €4.3m for the city council in 2015, with 54,068 vehicles, or 148 a day, compelled to pay €80 to have their vehicles released. Photograph: The Irish Times
File photograph: The Irish Times

A separate procedure allows for complaints to be made within 60 days of the incident, she added.

Lapsed

Although the time limits for both had lapsed by April 18th, Mr Ross wrote back to Ms Graham saying, “I would strongly ask that you consider” the woman’s appeal because the car park operator never gave her the authority’s contact details. He argued that this meant she was unable to make her second appeal within the 30-day limit.

The Minister further asked Ms Graham to “ liaise” with the car park operator to ensure it gives out this information in future.

The letter is signed: Shane Ross, Independent TD, Dublin Rathdown, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Hugh Creegan, the authority’s deputy chief executive, then wrote to Mr Ross on May 4th. Quoting the Vehicle Clamping Act 2015, he pointed out its provisions on making appeals.

“As is evident from the extract above the 30-day period is a mandatory period and the NTA has no discretion available to it to extend this period,” he said.

Not empowered

The second-stage appeal from Mr Ross’s constituent was not received until April 4th, and the NTA was “unfortunately” not empowered to consider it outside the prescribed period, Mr Creegan said.

He said the woman was told by the car park operators in three separate letters to make a second-stage appeal to the NTA. He acknowledged there was “limited information” issued to drivers about the appeals process and “we are in communication with the company in relation to addressing this issue”.