I would like to begin by stating clearly 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 previous Parliamentary responses, a cross-agency group has been examining the misuse of scramblers. This process has involved my Department, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS), Housing, Planning and Local Government and Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, as well as An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority, the Revenue Commissioners and representatives of local authorities.
On foot of advice from the Office of the Attorney General, it was agreed by all attendees at the last formal meeting of the group in March 2019 that, in the main, current legislative provisions appeared to be sufficient. Nonetheless 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.
My officials wrote to the Garda Commissioner to seek his formal views on the matter. 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.
These proposals are receiving detailed consideration in my Department, and have been shared with our colleagues in DTTAS who have responsibility for road traffic legislation.
My officials are currently in the process of reconvening the cross-agency group – proposed for early December – where the Garda proposals will be further scrutinised to ascertain whether they can be progressed alongside targeted enforcement measures, awareness raising and youth engagement, which are key to success in combatting this behaviour.
However I would stress that work and engagement on these issues continues on an ongoing basis between the relevant Departments and officials, between formal meetings.