asked the Minister for Justice whether it is a fact that instructions have been issued to the Garda Síochána to withdraw prosecutions in connection with stop signs; and if he will indicate what action is to be taken regarding people who have already been convicted and fined and who in some instances have had their licences endorsed.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Stop Sign Prosecutions.
The answer to the first part of the Question is "yes." Legal advice received by the Garda Síochána indicated that this was the appropriate course to take, having regard to doubts that had arisen as to the appropriateness of such a charge pending an amendment of the General Bye-laws for the Control of Traffic.
It does not follow, however, that convictions for such offences in the past have been bad. On the contrary, the legal presumption is that they were valid, and that presumption remains unless and until there is a Court ruling to the contrary. As far as the State is concerned, therefore, there is no reason why any action should be taken in regard to them and no action is contemplated.
In view of the fact that this has been found to be faulty legislation——
——the regulations made under legislation—surely the Minister will take steps to recompense people who have been fined for an alleged breach of this regulation, and surely he will also take steps to apologise to the people concerned.
The Deputy is apparently not capable of understanding the plain English incorporated in my reply. I specifically stated: "It does not follow, however, that convictions for such offences in the past have been bad. On the contrary, the legal presumption is that they were valid."
Is it not a fact that the Minister has been advised that they were invalid? Otherwise, he would not have taken this decision.
That is not so.
Why did the Minister take the decision he has taken?
It is wearisome to have to repeat the simple facts——
In this House, the Minister will have to be democratic about what he is asked, instead of the knuckleduster conduct he adopts outside the House.
In regard to the change in the law regarding stop signs, is the Minister aware that a very great danger now exists to traffic users, and pedestrians generally, at "Stop" signs, by reason of people crashing through these signs, and no longer taking notice of them? Will he issue a public statement to ensure the public safety at these junctions and replace them with more appropriate signs such as, "Yield right of way". In the meantime, a very great danger exists, and there is public anxiety about the change in the law in respect of stop signs. The Minister is expected to make a statement.
There is no change in the law. I have indicated that the position is that there is still a legal obligation on every road user to take care.
Not to stop.
Surely the answer is that the Minister has made a mistake. There are two signs: One is, "Yield right of way", and the other is a "Stop" sign. If he wishes the public to yield the right of way, he should have put up "Yield right of way" signs, and not "Stop" signs. The Minister is trying to conceal that fact by slick answers, as usual.
For Deputy Browne's benefit I will repeat——
The Minister can say it as often as he likes, but the fact is there.
I said: "Legal advice received by the Garda Síochána indicated that this was the appropriate course to take, having regard to the doubts that had arisen as to the appropriateness of such a charge pending an amendment of the General Bye-laws for the Control of Traffic."
And their replacement by correct signs.
Oh, shut up.
We ought to have reached a "Stop" sign on this question.
The Minister will not make me shut up by his puppyish dictator tactics.
They are only hanging on with the vote of the Deputy behind me.
The Minister knows the record of the man who is keeping him in office.
None of my people were in the RIC anyway.
Does the Minister agree that he should make a statement about the "Stop" signs? Many people do not regard them as an obligation any longer, and are, in fact, crashing through those signs. It is quite evident that there is public anxiety about them.
The Deputy said that already.
The Minister is crashing through the law every day of the week.
Am I right in assuming that the two questions I put down on this matter may have been responsible, to some degree, for this decision?
I have no idea what the questions were.
He never makes a mistake.
If I may reply to the responsible question of the Deputy who is concerned with the merits——
Will the Minister allow me for a moment? Deputy Carroll wishes to ask a question.
I had two questions on the Order Paper recently, which were duly answered, in relation to the "Stop" sign and the "Yield right of way" sign and I suggested that the "Stop" signs should be removed and replaced with "Yield right of way" signs because I was impressed by a judicial decision to the effect that the "Stop" sign was not legal.
I can assure the Deputy he is starting a very bad precedent.
I am responsible in this matter and I have to have regard to the public interest. These "Stop" signs are still there and I would recommend to the public and urge on the public that they should continue to obey them at all times.
Arising out of that reply——
I cannot allow this to go on.
The Minister has now told us we must obey the "Stop" sign.
Obey order, obey the Chair.
Is that a ruling from the Chair?
I have given no ruling.
I should like to ask the Minister who paid for these signs? If the local authority had to pay for them, will they also have to pay for changing them, or will the Minister be responsible?
That does not arise.
This is a matter of public interest.
Before we resume on the Finance Bill, will you, Sir, agree to the subject matter of Question No. 13 being raised on the adjournment?
I shall communicate with the Deputy.