The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has sought an urgent meeting with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris after stating it is “very concerned” restructuring of his force will reduce the focus on operations designed to ensure the country’s roads are as safe as possible.
The RSA said while it welcomed the promise that restructuring will increase the number of frontline gardaí, it remains worried for the roads policing function within the new structure and the implications for road safety.
The RSA said it views the proposed restructuring as effectively downgrading road safety within the policing function as its omits roads policing as one of the four key focus areas at an operational level.
In a statement, the RSA claimed these new organisational changes appear to “signify a disappointing demotion and devaluing of roads policing and related road safety”.
The organisation has written to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to voice its concerns, claiming changes in roads policing “risk unravelling much of the success Ireland has achieved in terms of reducing road fatalities and serious injuries”.
The RSA pointed out that the roads policing unit has faced significant challenges in recent years due to consistent under-resourcing and lack of strategic leadership and oversight. However, it said in spite of the failures of the past, the service being provided by the unit has saved many lives over the past decade and last year was the safest on record.
The statement added:
Meanwhile, a report compiled by the RSA has broadly come down in favour of allowing e-scooters to be used on Irish roads under licence. However, it has also stated there should be strict conditions attached to the licensing including speed limits.
The report, which was commissioned by the Government, has been submitted to the minister for transport, Shane Ross on June 22 last and it is believed he will shortly announce a public consultation on it.
It’s understood this public consultation will start in early September and continue until the end of October. Gardaí have expressed disquiet at legalising e-scooters, believing them to be potentially dangerous and a risk to their users, cyclists and pedestrians.
As e-scooters are not regulated in Ireland their current use is regarded as illegal. The RSA report followed research it completed in other European countries where the use of e-scooters is legal.
The report found a wide range of differences across EU states with some allowing them with no legislation. Dublin Chamber has opposed licensing e-scooters, pointing out this could be a barrier to take-up.