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Storefront of JD Sports, Jervis Shopping Centre, Dublin Nicky Ryan via The Journal
jervis centre

JD Sports under fire for Dublin advertisement showing masked riders on scrambler bikes

The advertising watchdog received 35 complaints about the display.

AN AD DISPLAY by JD Sports in Dublin city centre showing masked men on scrambler bikes has been condemned by politicians as promoting the vehicles, which have become a serious anti-social problem on Irish roads and in parks and recreational areas in recent years.

The ad, which is on the windows of the JD Sports outlet in the Jervis Shopping Centre, shows young men sitting on scramblers wearing masks and riding on just the back wheel. The ad is promoting Nike Air Max.

The Advertising Standards Authority says it has received 35 complaints about the display.

Dublin South-West TD John Lahart told The Journal that he found the ad “a little ambiguous” at first, but he believes the fact the models are wearing masks “crosses a line”.

“It seems to be associating the sport with concealing your identity. That’s where it does seem to border into something a little less savoury.”

Charlie O’Connor, a Fianna Fáil councillor for Tallaght, says the bikes have a bad reputation, and for good reason.

“I don’t think scramblers should be promoted or advertised in that way,” he said.

“The movement of the community has been hindered by this activity.”

Lahart said the use scrambler bikes disrupts Dublin communities.

On the northside, he said, the bikes are more often used for dangerous driving on roads, whereas on the southside they’re used to “cut up” public parks and pitches.

photo_2024-03-15 10.22.54 JD Sports storefront in Jervis Shopping Centre Nicky Ryan Nicky Ryan

Serious injuries

Gardaí said last year that scrambler bikes were being used in communities for the sale and supply of drugs.

There have been multiple deaths and serious injuries from incidents involving the bikes in recent years.

In October, gardaí seized 44 scrambler bikes and off-road vehicles in Limerick, after new powers were enacted.

The amendment to the Road Safety Act allows gardaí to target and seize off-road vehicles that are being used unlawfully or in an anti-social manner.

O’Connor and Lahart both said males in their teens and 20s are most commonly involved in this behaviour. 

Just last month a woman in her 70s was struck by a scrambler while crossing the road in Tallaght. A man in his 20s was seriously injured in west Dublin last summer after crashing a scrambler bike.

There have also been tragic incidents involving children. Leroy Coyle (19) died in a scrambler crash on Christmas Day in 2013 on the Ballybough Road near Croke Park. In 2015, Warren Kenny (16) died on Christmas Day in Cherry Orchard while riding a scrambler bike.

Gardaí have described the vehicles’ illegal and anti-social use as causing “fear and intimidation” in communities.

O’Connor said that even following the introduction of new powers for the gardaí to tackle scramblers, they continue to cause problems.

“Scramblers, as an issue, has not gone away.”

Just last month a woman in her 70s was struck by a scrambler while crossing the road in Tallaght.

photo_2024-03-15 10.22.52 Closeup of a man doing a wheelie on the ad Nicky Ryan Nicky Ryan

The Advertising Standards Authority said it received 35 complaints about the ad on the JD Sports shop, but that it is not in a position to comment further at this time.

JD Sports and Nike have been approached for comment.

O’Connor is not looking for scrambler bikes to be outlawed completely, as some people claim to have legitimate reasons for using them and an outright ban would “take a big effort”.

Similarly, Lahart says he’s “not a killjoy” and knows there are also “responsible riders” of scramblers.

He previously asked the council to create a special club where people could use scramblers safely, similar to a project that found success in Moyross, Co Limerick, but he says the council has been slow to act on his suggestion.

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