FOOTBALL: Scramble to save Dublin fields

by Gazette Reporter
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BY Eamon Scott

INDEPENDENT councillor John Lyons believes there is a blockage in the legislation process that would help address the issue of dirt bikes accessing public parks and inflicting untold damage to playing pitches following the latest attack on his own local club, Darndale FC.

“There is a blockage at some level of the Oireachtas  and it’s taken a number of years and we still await the legislation to be enacted,” claimed Lyons.

Lyons is a proud chairman of Darndale FC and is supported by a team of volunteers which provides football for the local community at schoolboy, schoolgirl and junior level – but they are now with a home ground for the foreseeable future after last Friday night’s invasion by scramblers.

 Chairman John Lyons  admitted that the news of the dirt bike attack on the club pitch is depressing. “We’ve had this issue for some time and it is now coming up on nearly 10 years and scramblers are a nuisance in a lot of communities across the city – and not just Darndale.”

He revealed that efforts had been made locally to try and counter the use of motorbikes in public parks: “We try raise the issue as part of the joint policing committee but it’s an issue that we just haven’t been able to fully address or get resolution to. The Gardai are unwilling to pursue these vehicles when they are in public parks. We have tried to cut the dirt bikers off at source and asked local garage owners not to sell them petrol and this hasn’t really worked either.”

Continued Lyons: “We’ve also made appeals for people not to buy these type of vehicles but this has largely fallen on deaf ears.  We’ve also raised the idea of closing off pitches in public parks by erecting fences but what comes back is not unreasonable, but there is a reluctance by the relevant agencies to fence off parts of public parks,”

“I’d love to know the motivation for doing this damage. We have put a lot of work into the park and apart from the football club there is also 5k runs and fishing there and we are trying to provide space in a positive way, but there is a small element who are intent on ensuring no such positive space exists and that is really disappointing.”

While Councillor Lyons reports that the Gardai have acted on information and been able to track down some of these vehicles in times past, trying to put more rigorous bylaws in place that would aid and assist to try and empower Gardai is seizing motorbikes which use public parks. Amending the road traffic act could also help in addressing the problem, but there are clearly shortcomings in how best to tackle the problem.

 “There isn’t that legislation in place at Oireachtas level for the Gardai to use and between all the agencies of the state we haven’t been able to grasp the problem. The way to address it has to be a multifaceted, multi-agency approach.  You also  have to try to understand the motivation why these people do what they do. At the same time legislation must be more rigorous allowing the impounding of these vehicles. It must be recognised that some of the individuals operating these bikes are of a very young age and interventions should be put in place so these machines are not gifted to them.”

“I’m aware that youth services in the area have worked on initiatives to try and steer interested parties to pursue dirt biking in a more positive way but what comes back is that there isn’t the interest in the sport itself.”

Councillor Lyons was scheduled to attend an online local committee council meeting on Sunday morning and a North Central meeting of elected councillors on Sunday afternoon where he updated those in attendance of Friday night’s damage.

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