Written Answers. - Road Patrols.

Liam Fitzgerald


28 Mr. L. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Justice her views on whether specialised transport should be utilised to patrol Irish motorways; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9153/97]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that motorway and national primary roads are patrolled on a day to day basis by the special traffic corps which are, for the most part, based at each divisional headquarters. Local garda mobile units also, of course enforce traffic laws in the course of normal duty.

As Minister for Justice I have endeavoured to ensure that the traffic corps is adequately resourced in terms of manpower and equipment to detect and deter motorists from breaking the law. I will continue to provide these resources as required.

The traffic corps throughout the State is equipped with 109 vehicles, including motorcycles, which are used to patrol our roads. Presently the traffic corps at Dublin Castle is using a four wheel drive Isuzu Trooper equipped with the necessary equipment to deal with a motorway emergency or a major emergency. The Traffic Department's management plan for 1997 includes the acquisition of additional specialised vehicles. A final decision on the purchase of these vehicles is expected shortly.

The traffic corps is equipped with speed detection equipment and specially equipped vehicles adapted to monitor speeding. In addition the Garda has also acquired a sophisticated speed detection unit called GATSO. This unit contains a camera, video, radar system plus a computer and is fitted to an unmarked car. It is in operation since June 1996. It is designed to detect large numbers of speeding vehicles in quick succession and it can be located on any of our roadways including motorways. There have been many prosecutions arising from the use of GATSO.

The Garda is committed to the strict and sustained enforcement of the Road Traffic Acts and I will continue to ensure that it has the latest and most sophisticated equipment to enable it to do so.