The tough stance by a district court judge banning motorists who illegally park in disabled parking spots was yesterday praised by a disability organisation.
At Ennis District Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan hit out at the “boorish behaviour” by able-bodied drivers who illegally park in disabled parking spots in towns and villages, especially around Co Clare.
He made his comment before banning Valerie Scullion of 18 Bridge View, Roslevan, Ennis from driving for six months.
Judge Durcan imposed the ban after hearing evidence from traffic warden supervisor James Counihan that he identified Ms Scullion’s car parked in a disabled driving spot at Francis Street on December 30 last.
The judge said “this is a serious matter” before imposing the driving ban and a €500 fine. He also awarded costs of €100 against Ms Scullion who did not attend yesterday’s court hearing.
The court heard Ms Scullion had previous convictions for illegally parking around Ennis, but none for unlawful parking in a disabled driver’s spot.
Enable Ireland’s communications officer Aghna Hennigan yesterday welcomed what she called the judge’s “tough stance”.
She said: “Physical accessibility is vital to the true inclusion of people with disabilities in society. If a parking space is unavailable, it can make an entire town inaccessible to a person with a disability.
“Enable Ireland welcomes Judge Durcan’s tough stance on this offence and hopes that it will deter other drivers from unnecessarily occupying accessible parking spaces in future.”
The organisation provides free services to disabled people across 14 counties.
Corporate affairs manager of the AA, Conor Faughnan said yesterday: “We have to trust our judges in the judgements they make. I don’t think anyone can have any sympathy for someone who parks in a disabled parking one. It is an obnoxious thing to do.”
However, Mr Faughnan said: “Justice must be proportionate and I believe that most drivers would be baffled with the ban handed down as the penalty in this case is the same that would be handed down for a person convicted of drink driving.”
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