Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Questions (744)

Denise Mitchell


744. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice when she envisages legislation granting An Garda Síochána enhanced powers, regarding the use of scramblers and quads, will come before Dáil Éireann; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27294/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Department of Transport has primary responsibility for road traffic legislation and for bringing forward any new legislative provisions which would seek to deliver on the commitments on quad bikes and scramblers contained in the new Programme for Government - Our Shared Future.

More broadly, the Deputy will be aware of the commitment in the Programme for Government to convene an expert forum on anti-social behaviour and this will provide a key focus for further development of policy in this area. In addition, the Programme for Government further commits to developing a new Youth Justice Strategy, which I intend to bring to Government later this year for approval.  This will provide an additional framework to support collaborative working by agencies and community partners to address a wide range of issues connected with youth offending, including in relation to the misuse of vehicles. 

I can assure the Deputy that my Department, alongside An Garda Síochána and the Department of Transport, is acutely aware of the severe difficulties and dangers the misuse of quadbikes, scramblers and similar vehicles can cause in the communities it impacts.

Targeted enforcement measures have been introduced in a number of areas where quad bikes and scramblers were causing difficulties. For example, Gardaí in areas such as Finglas have had success in reducing the number of issues with scramblers through targeted enforcement, while youth community engagement groups in Limerick have had successes diverting young people away from using these vehicles in a dangerous manner in public places, and towards properly organised motocross events.

A cross-agency group was established to examine this issue. The group initially included the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, as well as An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority, the Revenue Commissioners and representatives of local authorities.  It was subsequently agreed to meet in subgroup format involving the primary stakeholders, namely Department of Justice and Equality, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, An Garda Síochána, and the Office of the Attorney General. 

The subgroup most recently met this week to review the overall position. An Garda Síochána highlighted at the meeting their continuing enforcement actions in affected areas, including through the seizure of vehicles. The Department of Transport, who as I have noted have primary responsibility for road traffic legislation, indicated that they are continuing to examine the potential for further strengthening legislation.

For its part, my Department is considering and developing actions in order to jointly increase awareness of the dangers of these vehicles with affected communities, community groups and other stakeholders, and exploring how best to engage with young persons who are drawn to this behaviour.  The Department is currently examining options in this area, with due regard to social distancing requirements.