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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 5 Feb 1991

Vol. 404 No. 6

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Garda Traffic Corps.

Seán Barrett


20 Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice if he has any proposals to increase the number of gardaí attached to the Traffic Corps; if he and the Minister for the Environment have proposals to introduce on the spot fines for particular offences under the Road Traffic Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

In the 1991 crime fighting package announced by me on 10 December 1990, I indicated that the strength of the Garda Traffic Corps would be increased by 50 in 1991. Members of the Force are now being selected and trained for Traffic Corps duties. Prior to that announcement, the Garda authorities had already arranged for the assignment of 17 additional members of the force to the Dublin Metropolitan Area Traffic Corps.

The question of extending the "fine-on-the-spot" system to cover additional offences is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, and is kept under review by his Department in consultation with my Department and the Garda authorities.

Is the Minister aware that my question asked whether he had discussions with his colleague, the Minister for the Environment, in relation to on-the-spot-fines? Will the Minister agree that to talk about increasing the traffic corps by 50 in a country of our size where these officers are on 24 hour shift work is a joke? Would he not agree that much time and effort could be saved by having our gardaí released from court duty if we had more on-the-spot fines and if a greater number were attached to the traffic corps?

There are at present 375 gardaí of all ranks up to Chief Superintendent employed on various aspects of traffic law enforcement duties. The additional 50 I announced on 10 December will be added to that number. There are in the force 10,600 gardaí whose responsibilities — as well as other areas — involves traffic law enforcement. By the end of the year we will have 11,000 members within the force.

The Deputy will be aware of the very successful anti-drink driving campaign which involved all members of the Garda Síochána during the Christmas period. The Deputy can be assured that all resources that are requested are being made available in relation to traffic enforcement. New equipment is being made available to the force and the situation is continually monitored. So far as on-the-spot fines are concerned there is merit in what the Deputy said in relation to greater use of them. Consultations between my colleague, the gardaí and myself are taking place in relation to that issue.

May I ask the Minister——

The Deputy should be brief and enable the Chair to dispose of the five priority questions.

I have put but one supplementary question.

Deputy Barrett, I am seeking the co-operation of the Members concerned to dispose of the five questions in the prescribed time. It is up to the Deputies concerned now.

May I ask the Minister——

Do not blame the Chair.

——if he would report back to the House on the discussions he will have with the Minister for the Environment in the near future with a view to extending on-the-spot fines which would save gardaí being tied up in courts?

I have no doubt the Deputy will take the opportunity at Question Time in the future to ask an appropriate question and then I will give him the information.