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Fianna Fáil takes aim at funfairs ahead of summer holidays

The Health and Safety Funfair Amendment Bill looks to further regulate funfairs.

Image: Shutterstock/Annette Shaff

FUNFAIRS AND AMUSEMENT equipment must be properly regulated, according to Fianna Fáil. 

A Bill proposed by TD Niall Collins which aims to provide for improved health and safety standards at funfairs is due to be debated in the Dáil today. 

Under these proposals, which were first floated two years ago, any funfair equipment operator must ensure a duty of reasonable care to recreational users.

The Health and Safety Funfair Amendment Bill is not being opposed by government, though a spokesperson said there are concerns about the implications of the proposals which calls on Health and Safety Authority to play a role in regulating the sector. 

At present, there is no statutory agency charged with monitoring, inspecting and regulating the use of funfair equipment, which Collins has described as unacceptable.

The Bill would give powers to the Health and Safety Authority to ensure full safety compliance at all funfairs operating in Ireland.

While the government has indicated that such a move would result in a ‘money message’ to be placed on the Bill (which could halt it in its tracks), Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has said a review of current regulations is already underway within his department.

The Planning and Development Act 2000 places a statutory duty on organisers of funfairs and owners of fairground equipment to take “reasonable care” to ensure that funfair attendees “do not suffer injury or damage by reason of dangers arising from the funfair or associated activities”.

The current legislation also sets out that the owner of fairground equipment shall not make it available to the public unless such equipment has a valid certificate of safety.

Anyone who wants to hold a funfair in a town, must give notice of the event to the local authority and they must hold a valid certificate of safety.

Murphy acknowledged that one of the issues raised in the review was that the current rules do not assign responsibility to a specific body to investigate accidents at funfairs.

However, he noted at that time that provisions in criminal justice and in safety, health and welfare at work legislation provide a range of responsibilities and roles for investigation of accidents.

The review is ongoing and includes an examination of international practice in the area of regulating public safety, the minister has said. 

It is understood the department has met with the Health and Safety Authority and engaged with stakeholders on the issues. While the government recognises there are “challenges” in the bill, it welcomes its intent and said it will be given due consideration. 

Collins maintains there is a legislative gap, which has resulted in no state agency looking into and overseeing funfair safety.

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