226. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he will take to address the problem of young persons and others driving scramblers (details supplied); the further steps he will take to address the lack of enforcement of road traffic legislation; the status of his Department's engagement with An Garda Síochána on this issue; and his plans to draw up a strategy to address this issue. [8144/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that I am very concerned in relation to the serious public safety issues associated with the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes, and my concerns are on the public record of this House. A multi-agency approach is required to tackle this anti-social issue effectively. To facilitate this, I have written to the following State agencies in order to ascertain whether there are additional legislative or other solutions which can assist in dealing with this serious issue more comprehensively: Departments of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Housing, Planning, and Local Government, and Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; An Garda Síochána; and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.
Following the receipt of responses from all agencies concerned, my Department wrote to all bodies again on 14 February 2018 to confirm the scheduling of a meeting later this month (28 February) to discuss the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes. This meeting will be chaired by my Department and the purpose of the meeting will be to identify more effective possible solutions and determine responsibility and timeframes for implementation.
The Deputy will already be aware that, under the Road Traffic Acts, any member of An Garda Síochána is empowered to stop a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place and demand production of a driver licence or learner permit. In addition, Gardaí may inspect the vehicle for compliance with vehicle standards legislation, which makes it an offence to drive without reasonable consideration, drive carelessly, or drive dangerously. The Garda authorities also have powers of seizure, detention, storage and disposal of vehicles under road traffic legislation. I am further informed that the use of quad bikes and scramblers in public parks and open spaces is strictly prohibited by the local authorities under the Parks and Open Spaces Bye-Laws 2011.
Despite the existing road traffic and other relevant legislation available in this area, the Garda authorities have indicated that there are issues of safety involved in enforcement of these laws which are best addressed through a multi-agency approach as referred to above. I am informed that Gardaí are working with local authorities, including park authorities, to examine other solutions, such as engineering solutions. Enhanced fencing and bike gates are examples of engineering measures taken to restrict access to parks.
I will continue to promote cross-agency engagement in relation to this important public safety issue.