A local disability activist has called into question the policing of disabled parking bays in Dundalk town centre.
Brendan Moore, a member of the Polio Survivors & Post Polio Support Group, says the local authority are not enforcing the one-hour parking policy as effectively as in other parts of the country.
“Louth County Council have erected signs on poles at disabled parking bays in Drogheda that state 'one hour parking in disabled bays only' for those who hold blue disabled parking bay permits.
“I would like to know why the council have not followed that through to Dundalk and Ardee, as residents in these areas are being restricted.
“Also, I would be keen to establish that if the one-hour system is enforced across County Louth, is it limited solely to designated bays?
“For example, what is the situation if a person with a disability parks in an ordinary parking bay displays their blue parking badge: would there be a time limit in that instance?
“Under the agreement as it stands, a person is issued with a blue wheelchair parking permit if they are the driver of the vehicle that they and they only can park in a disabled parking bay.
“If a person is transporting a person who has a disability they, by law, have have to pull into one of the accordingly marked bays, drop their passenger off and move the vehicle out of the disabled bay.
“That includes cars, vans, buses. There is, however, widespread misuse of this law across the board, an issue which is particularly pertinent in the Dundalk area.
“The most obvious issue in that regard is the fact that people are using family members’ disabled passes to park their vehicles all day and, in so doing, avoiding paying the parking charges.
“This is particularly noticeable on streets that have parking on one side of the road where it is of most inconvenience.
“I personally took reports this month to Louth County Council, but they told me that they have not got enough manpower in terms of traffic wardens to man the town at any time.
“I have contacted Councillor John McGahon and the suggestion was put forward that two traffic wardens should patrol the town streets Monday to Friday, one operating traffic parking for the centre of town to Bridge Street.
“In that instance, the other traffic warden would be charged with observing from the centre of town to Dublin street.
“At the moment, all they really do is walk the roads in pairs in the one area.
“It’s also worth remember that parking bays allocated for the purpose of disabled parking are solely for use of these persons on a 24/7 basis, not just at peak hours.
“After 6pm on Monday to Saturday, it’s the responsibility of Gardaí to issue tickets for misuse of disabled parking bays. A fine of €80 applies no matter what time day or night. There are a few spots around Dundalk which are noticeably subject to abuse but the one which is frequently targeted is the one outside the barber shop on Park Street.
“I urge people to remember that, if your are out socialising in that area, beware because it could cost you a dear night out.”