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'Really shocking': Motorists use deceased parents' permits to park in disabled bays

In just one year of a garda operation to crack down on fraudulent use of these permits, 80 people were prosecuted.

The original permit holder for this permit had been dead six years when it was seized.
The original permit holder for this permit had been dead six years when it was seized.
Image: An Garda Síochána via Twitter

AN OPERATION TARGETING the fraudulent use of disabled parking permits has resulted in the prosecution of dozens of people – including a number of motorists who were using permits belonging to their deceased parents.

Operation Enable was launched in March last year and in the first 12 months 80 people in total were prosecuted and fined. Although the crackdown initially focused on Dublin’s city centre, it has now spread across the country, with enforcement days in a number of other counties.

The idea for the operation was conceived by Sergeant Peter Woods and overseen by Superintendent Tom Murphy who heads up Roads Policing for the Dublin Metropolitan Region.

Sergeant Woods said he came up with the idea after a conversation with a motorists who had a disability about the issues they encountered when trying to find accessible parking in Dublin.

“The response has been absolutely phenomenal, from day one it really seems to have struck a chord with people. I get regular correspondence from people telling me about permit abuse – one time an elderly gentleman arrived at Dublin Castle clutching an Evening Herald with an article about the operation and said he wanted to speak to me about a neighbour who was misusing his son’s permit,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“It’s not really something something that you could be against, but people still do it.

“I’ve had 25 years of policing in the city centre at this stage and I didn’t think much would shock me but we’ve come across some really shocking instances of permit misuse like people using permits belonging to dead people.”

Last week one of my guys seized a permit that clampers alerted us to. The permit expired five years ago and the permit holder had been dead for six years. The motorist told the clampers that the permit holder was in the shop around the corner – they’d been dead for six years. We come across quite a few instances of permits being used that belonged to dead people.

He said he has seen cases where multiple permits have been reissued to family members of deceased persons, but he said the two associations that issue the permits have strengthened their policies in the last year to try to prevent this.

Woods said gardaí have also seized photocopies of permits from drivers and have identified people using their grandparents’ permits so they can park in the city centre for free all day while they are in work.

He said there is a heightened awareness about the issue among members of the public now, helped by the promotion of the operation on social media.

“Any detections we had we put them on the garda traffic Twitter account, which has over 400,000 followers and that’s been instrumental in spreading the word to the public and my colleagues in other garda stations, so it snowballed around the country and other garda regions have had similar operations,” he said.

“The Twitter account is great at using humour, they do some very funny tweets but it gets a serious message across as well and people really respond to it.”

In March this year, one year on from the launch of the operation, Minister for Transport Shane Ross increased the penalty for parking in a disabled bay without an official permit from €80 to €150.

“I think a lot of that decision was a direct result of Operation Enable,” Woods said.

Sergeant Woods said he has submitted a proposal to Tispol, the European Traffic Police Network, with a view to holding a pan-European day of enforcement in December this year. He and his superintendent will make a presentation at the organisation’s annual conference in October.

“We have managed to get the message out here so much that people are automatically doing it as part of their daily patrols now. It’s in their minds.

“Policing a lot of the time is not rocket science, it’s about really listening to people’s problems and if you have the resources to deal with it, then deal with it.”

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