We have discussed the issue of electric scooters in this House several times. Since then several things have changed. In the area covering the Dublin 2 and Dublin 1 postcodes, An Garda Síochána has started impounding and detaining these vehicles and taking them away. In recent times, the Road Safety Authority, RSA, has decided to update the advice on its website in respect of these vehicles. The website was not clear. Perhaps this reflects the lack of clarity in the law.
One year ago, I raised this issue with the Minister in a parliamentary question as a member of the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport. I forewarned of this issue. At the time, the Minister said it was not envisaged that the position with regard to the need for regulation or legislation in respect of these vehicles would change in the immediate future. Does he now accept that the position has changed and that there is a need to clarify in law and regulation the status of these vehicles?
In the past hour, the Fianna Fáil Party has belatedly agreed with this position and is launching its proposed legislation on the plinth at 2.30 p.m. tomorrow. This is to be welcomed, as is further focus on this issue. I wish we had foresight in respect of the problems that have so predictably arisen with this new technology. We must now nevertheless legislate for it in hindsight. Fianna Fáil's move in this regard is welcome.
Last week, I met representatives of several institutions and companies that are interested in this area. Many of them are setting up in this country and many others have started operating here. I met representatives of several companies on the DCU Alpha campus in Glasnevin. They are world leaders in creating technology in this sector. It is impressive stuff. Ireland could become a leader in this area but to do so requires foresight to allow the sector to grow and develop.
In the absence of law, there are now far in excess of 2,000 users of these vehicles in the city. Lest we forget, they are also used in many European cities where they are effective. They are a reflection of many of the values the Government espouses, including many of the aspirations of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. They are green and environmental. They reduce congestion and increase the onus on us to improve cycle lane investment. I am at a loss to understand why the Department has been stonewalling on this issue for so long and why responsibility for it has been handed to the Road Safety Authority one full year after I first raised it in the House. I am also at a loss as to why we have been reactive instead of proactive on this issue.
In reply to my most recent of many parliamentary questions, the Minister cited several international experiences that were negative. Much of what was put to me on the record in reply to my parliamentary questions about the international experience was not correct and was, in fact, erroneous. There are many positive international experiences and lessons that could be brought to bear in light of the first wave of these vehicles that occurred some years ago. We can now do things with technology that we could not do three or four years ago to safeguard pedestrians and other road users as well as allow for the effective and safe use of these vehicles.
I was surprised and alarmed by the conservative approach taken in the most recent reply to my parliamentary question. I would welcome it if the Minister clarified his remarks. I would welcome some clarity in respect of the overall issue. Is the Road Safety Authority report available? Do we know when it will be available? What is the Minister's position on this issue?