Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Road Traffic Offences
376. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made regarding the issue of the prevalence of the illegal use of scramblers and quad bikes; and if his Department has completed its consideration of proposals from the cross-agency group examining the issue. [11267/20]
My Department, alongside colleagues in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and An Garda Síochána, is acutely aware of the severe difficulties and dangers this activity caused in the communities it impacts and my officials have been working to find solutions to this complex policing issue. It should be noted that targeted enforcement measures have been introduced in a number of areas where quad bikes and scramblers were causing difficulties. For example, Gardaí in areas like Finglas have had recent 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 motorcross events.
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, 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 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. 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.
The cross-agency group most recently met in December 2019. The group agreed that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport – which has primary responsibility for road traffic legislation – would explore the feasibility of developing new legislative provisions in road traffic legislation, following on from the suggestions of An Garda Síochána without unintended consequences for existing law.
It was also agreed that my Department would consider and develop actions in order to increase awareness of the dangers of these vehicles jointly with affected communities, community groups and other stakeholders, and explore how best to engage with young persons who are drawn to this behaviour. My Department is examining options in this area, with due regard to social distancing requirements.
More broadly, the Deputy may also wish to be aware that the draft Youth Justice Strategy 2020-2026 has recently been published for public consultation by my colleague, the Minister for State David Stanton. An online questionnaire is available until the end of June to allow members of the public, including of course young people, to express their views. Further information is available on my Department's website at the following link: