Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (604)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

618 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence his views on the impact of the growing incidents of Traveller encampments, some of which are extremely large, on the environs of the Curragh plains; if his attention has been drawn to public concerns regarding this matter; if he will bring forward proposals to prevent such encampments recurring; the costs incurred by his Department in environmental clean ups after such incursions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34595/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Defence)

I am fully aware of the ongoing problems of illegal camping and the misuse of the Curragh Plains. Over the last twelve months my Department has spent approximately €72,000 on clean-up operations following illegal camping and dumping. Under Section 19C of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 as inserted by the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002 it is an offence for a person to enter on and occupy property without the consent of the owner. Under the provisions of the Act An Garda Síochána has the power without warrant to arrest a person who fails to leave when requested and seize anything they bring onto the property in question e.g. caravans. Penalties for persons found guilty of an offence under this Part of the Act include fines not exceeding €3,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one month or both.

The Garda confirmed at a recent meeting with officials from my Department that it is dealing with the illegal parking and camping on the Curragh under this legislation.

Having reviewed the situation there appears to be adequate provision for dealing with the issues under current legislation. Therefore, I do not at this time see any benefits in producing additional legislation to handle this issue. While the Deputy will appreciate that it can prove difficult to fully prevent such activities every effort is being taken to address the situation and protect the valuable amenity that is the Curragh.