Judge gets tough on illegal parking

A judge has put in place a “get tough” policy with people illegally parking in disabled parking spaces — by taking them off the road for six months.

At Ennis District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan banned Deirdre O’Connor from driving for six months after she failed to pay an €80 fine for illegally parking in a disabled parking space in the town’s Lower Market St on Dec 28 last.

Ms O’Connor, of Drumown, Ballynacally, Co Clare, was not in court for yesterday’s hearing and she was not legally represented.

Ms O’Connor had no previous convictions relating to parking offences and, along with the ban, Judge Durcan imposed a fine of €750 and ordered her to pay Ennis Town Council’s costs of €100.

Judge Durcan did not pass comment when banning Ms O’Connor from driving yesterday. However, he has previously described the offence of people parking illegally in disabled parking spots as “despicable”.

Yesterday, an activist with the Disabled People of Clare, Dermot Hayes, welcomed the judge’s policy as “very progressive”.

“We have been calling for tougher sanctions for a long time to people who park illegally in disabled parking spots. What the judge is doing here is fantastic.

“I would have no sympathy for anyone that parks in a disabled space. There is no excuse for it.

“I would hope that other judges would follow Judge Durcan’s approach.”

Director of policy at AA Ireland Conor Faughnan said: “To park in a disabled spot is distasteful and I would have no sympathy to those who are found guilty and severely punished. It is inexcusable behaviour and those people deserve what they get.

“The motorists here have the opportunity to put it right by paying the fine.”

However, Mr Faughnan added: “The punishment should fit the crime and it does seem a six-month driving ban for illegally parking in a disabled space is severe and excessive.”

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