Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (956)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

956. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many senior gardaí have expressed the view that the law needs to be strengthened in order for them to deal with the serious public safety issues caused by the wide-scale illegal use of scramblers and quad bikes; the way in which he can reconcile this with the advice of the Attorney General to the interagency group on this matter in which they state that existing law is sufficient; and the way in which he plans to proceed in respect of the serious dangers and anti-social behaviour associated with this social problem which it is perceived is not being adequately addressed. [34522/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this question and I wish to be clear that my officials, alongside their colleagues in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and An Garda Síochána, are striving to find solutions to this complex policing issue.

As I have outlined in my response to Deputy Curran (parliamentary question 305 of 9 July), while it was agreed by all attendees at the last sitting of the cross-agency group in March that, in the main, current legislative provisions appeared to be sufficient, it was also agreed that the group would remain open to considering workable legislative solutions to any specific legislative gaps specifically identified by An Garda Síochána.

Further in my response to Deputy Curran, I noted that my officials wrote to the Garda Commissioner to seek his formal views on the legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General. A response was received on 28 June and has since been shared with DTTAS, as a primary contributor to the work of the cross-agency group. The response from the Office of the Garda Commissioner does suggest potential legislative changes which the organisation believes could assist in improving policing in this area.

However, I'm sure the Deputy can appreciate that proposals to amend well established bodies of legislation can have far reaching consequences, and will take detailed consideration. It is expected that the cross-agency group will reconvene in the coming weeks to further scrutinise these proposals, to ascertain whether they can be progressed alongside targeted enforcement measures, awareness raising and youth engagement, which will be key to success in combatting this behaviour.