asked the Minister for the Environment if he will consider setting up a traffic corps which will be responsible for road safety and the prosecution of traffic offences.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Road Traffic Law Enforcement.
(Dublin South-East): A traffic corps exists within the Garda Sióchána since 1973 with special responsibility for enforcing road traffic law. I am aware that the Garda play an active role in the promotion of road safety. To the extent that the Deputy may envisage a civilian type of corps, there is already provision for a traffic warden service. I would not favour any change in the legal position whereby the powers of traffic wardens are confined to clearcut parking offences. I share the view which has emerged from previous consideration of this issue that enforcement of general traffic law should be directly linked with general police powers. I have no proposals therefore to effect a change in the existing enforcement procedures.
In view of the fact that the crime rate has increased steadily in the country generally and particularly in urban areas, would it not make sense to empower people other than trained gardaí to deal with traffic offences, to have a traffic corps as they have throughout most of the world? This would release highly trained gardaí to deal with burglaries and serious crime. Will not the Minister agree that it makes sense to develop a modern traffic corps to deal with minor parking offences, with speeding and so on?
(Dublin South-East): I can only deal with the Deputy's question in so far as it deals with the setting up of a wholly civilian traffic corps independent of any police force. Any proposal for a separate police force to specialise in dealing with traffic or for the reorganisation of the existing traffic corps within the Garda Síochána would be a matter for the Minister for Justice himself to assess.
Will the Minister not accept that throughout Europe traffic corps police are trained and identified as such and are able to deal with motorists in a courteous and firm manner? This is not happening here. It seems a logical step to take. The Minister's predecessor in office was to give the matter some consideration but I do not know if he pursued the matter. In view of the number of serious injuries and deaths that occur on our roads every day, it is imperative that a radical change be made to provide a traffic corps in order to prevent an immense waste of human lives.
The Deputy may not make a speech.
(Dublin South-East): I can only deal with the Deputy's question in the context of how it was phrased. If the Deputy has any proposals to make on the type of traffic corps he has mentioned, I feel he should direct the matter to the Minister for Justice rather than to my Department. I can deal only with it in relation to a traffic corps independent of the police.
I do not wish to be discourteous to the Minister and I realise he has certain difficulties.
Will the Deputy please ask a question?
In view of the nature of the reply I have received I should like to raise the matter on the Adjournment.
The Chair will communicate with the Deputy.