Impasse on Bylaw enforcement

Eoghan Dalton Reports

An impasse has been reached on the enforcement of bylaws in Waterford. The bylaws, ranging from public consumption of alcohol to the five axle ban throughout much of the city, typically fall under the jurisdiction of the Gardaí. However, speaking at a recent meeting of the Joint Policing Committee, Chief Superintendent Padraig Dunne said budgets are growing tighter and the force must maintain its frontline services ahead of other areas. Several Councillors have since expressed dismay at this, with them calling on Waterford City & County Council (WCCC) staff to fill the gap. However Director of Roads and Environment Services Fergus Galvin maintains they can only defer to the Gardaí on enforcement of bylaws.
Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF) said he had become “overwhelmed with representations” from people concerning broken bylaws. These included tents being erected in public parks and beaches as well as the placement of posters in the city centre without Council permission.

Chief Superintendent Padraig Dunne

Chief Superintendent Padraig Dunne

He told the June plenary meeting of WCCC: “We said we’d tackle the issue of loud noise and people coming along, preaching religiously setting up with an amplifier and blasting away. This seems to be escalating instead of steadying off.”He further noted Garda comments around not being able to enforce bylaws on public consumption of alcohol in the Apple Market as well as the five axel ban in the city, and questioned the number of staff the local authority have to carry out inspections.
Typically there are four staff, Fergus Galvin said, however currently one member has been promoted and so the section is down one. He told Councillors that team has to cover the entire city and county and they would not have the authority to fill in for Gardaí in enforcing the five axle ban.
“I couldn’t appoint staff or appoint them to work in a live traffic environment. None of us have any role in going out and stopping traffic on the road and asking them for permits or trying to enforce a ban. We have no capacity to undertake that work and rely on the good offices of the Gardaí,” he said.
Meanwhile Cllr Jim Griffin (SF) said he had received calls from people who had had their downtime spoiled by revellers bringing caravans and alcohol to beaches across the county. He said a key problem is that Gardaí “don’t understand the by-laws, nor do they want to understand the by-laws”. He further asked Mr Galvin if Council officials could be deployed to beaches to deal with contravened bylaws.

Again, Councillors were told this would be a matter best left to Gardaí. Using a beach bonfire as an example, Mr Galvin said he would be reluctant to send one of his staff to deal with a complaint as they would be entering in a “potentially fairly volatile situation” where they’d have to deal with a group of people who have consumed drink.
He also said that if he deployed a member of staff on Saturdays, the day Councillors indicated most complaints occur on, then that person would be missing for a day from the following working week. However, he added that he will try stepping up engagement with the Gardaí and carry out more planned patrols to help combat any further issues over the summer.

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