Government 'turning its back' on communities over threat of scrambler bikes

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The Government is "turning its back" on vulnerable communities and ignoring the threat of scrambler bikes in local areas by failing to listen to garda concerns over the issue.

That's according to Fianna Fáil TDs John Curran and John Lahart and senator Lorraine Clifford Lee, who described as "lunacy" the cabinet's rejection of the opposition party's plans to draw up new laws to combat the problem.

Under plans put forward by Fianna Fáil in recent months, gardai were to be given tough new powers to remove scrambler bikes and to prosecute people using them in public places unless there were clear reasons for doing so.

However, at cabinet's weekly meeting on Tuesday, ministers rejected the plans, saying gardai already have the powers needed to chase down scrambler bikes and to prosecute if necessary.

Speaking to reporters at Leinster House, they said they have serious concerns about the use of scrambler bikes in their areas.

And, criticising the Government for its decision to reject the Fianna Fáil bill, they claimed cabinet is "turning its back" on vulnerable communities by ignoring what gardai are asking them to do.

"At every joint policing meeting, which are attended by councillors and garda superintendents, they are saying the law at the moment is not enforceable. To turn around today and say what we have is working is sheer lunacy," said Mr Curran.

His colleague, John Lahart, added that in his view the Government's approach to the issue has amounted to "turning their backs quite clinically and coldly" on affected communities, saying it is "the single biggest issue coming up on the doors in those areas".

"The Government want gardai get up on a motorbike and pursue a scrambler, putting the general public in danger. Anybody in touch with the communities we represent would know it is an absolute fallacy to think that is working," he said.

In a statement after the cabinet meeting, the Government said while it accepts the "unlawful use of scramblers and quad bikes is a significant issue" it does not believe Fianna Fáil's proposed law change will have "any positive impact".

"The powers that the bill would give to an Garda Siochana, in fact, exist already," a spokesperson said, adding further changes may cause "legislative confusion".

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