CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you, Deputy Shortall, for raising this important public safety issue. The Deputy will recall that I responded to her parliamentary question on the same issue on 1 May 2018.
I share the Deputy’s concern in relation to the misuse of scramblers and quad-bikes. The repercussions of anti-social behaviour arising from the use of these vehicles can be very serious: scrambler and quad-bike users can become injured, sometimes critically. People in close proximity to these vehicles may also become injured, at times, acutely. There is also the ever-present risk of fatality. In short, the misuse of scramblers and quad-bikes can have a devastating effect on the users of these vehicles and the wider community.
You will appreciate, Deputy, that I have no direct role in the prevention of anti-social behaviour or the enforcement of road traffic legislation, which are operational matters for the Garda Commissioner. However, the impact of anti-social behaviour associated with the use of scramblers and quad-bikes is clearly unacceptable in terms of public safety. This is why I have requested my Department to focus on this issue.
To tackle a public safety issue of this nature effectively, a multi-agency response is required. The Deputy is aware that my Department convened a cross-agency meeting on 25 April 2018. The purpose of the cross-sectoral meeting was to ascertain whether there are additional legislative or other solutions, which can assist in dealing with this the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes more comprehensively, with a view to determining responsibility and timeframes for implementation of solutions identified.
The meeting was attended by officials from the Departments of Justice and Equality; Transport, Tourism and Sport; Housing, Planning and the Environment; and Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; An Garda Síochána; the Road Safety Authority; and the Revenue Commissioners. My Department also met separately with a representative from Dublin City Council on 23 April.
The meeting took account of a range of perspectives on the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes and also considered the various experiences currently being encountered in tackling this matter. An Garda Síochána continues to work on the ground with local authorities and other public bodies in relation to implementing non-legislative enforcement solutions to deal with the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes. It is vital that this engagement continues.
The meeting concluded with an agreed set of key next steps in the context of driving tangible progress in relation to this public safety matter:
My Department’s officials will engage with the Office of the Attorney General to obtain legal advice in relation to the interpretation of a number of relevant pieces of legislation identified at the meeting to determine whether any legislative amendments are necessary to assist in curbing anti-social activity insofar as scramblers and quad bikes are concerned. Detailed correspondence to the Attorney General is now close to completion and will issue shortly;
My officials also intend to consult further with local authorities in the context of the positive engagement fostered by local authorities with local communities; examples of which include community and youth-centred projects, such as the various horse projects. The experiences of local authorities involved in these and other projects will be very informative to my Department in terms of assessing the contribution that such collaborative approaches can make to reducing the misuse of these vehicles;
As the Deputy will also be aware, an important element of this issue is the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes by minors. I am advised that the Road Safety Authority (RSA) intends to run a safety campaign later this year with the aim of discouraging those who may consider purchasing scramblers or quad-bikes as Christmas presents for minors. The RSA is currently considering the optimum time to launch this campaign. I want to stress that the supply of mechanically propelled vehicles to persons under 16 and 17 (depending on the vehicle) constitute offences under accordance with Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 2004.
I can assure the Deputy that I am committed to actively supporting any positive actions that can be pursued in response to the serious public safety issues arising from the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes.