Minister for Defence and Justice Alan Shatter TD has clarified the powers available to the Gardaí to deal with illegal activities on the Curragh Plains.
Kildare County Council wrote to Minister Shatter requesting a review of the Curragh of Kildare Act, with a particular request to grant the Gardaí ‘immediate power of seizure’ over any illegal vehicle, including scrambler bikes and caravans.
The Minister’s was responding to a call by Cllr Tony O’Donnell for enhanced powers for the Gardaí, particularly when dealing with the expensive and damaging use of the Curragh by scrambler bikes and illegal camp sites.
In recent days, local Gardaí have had to deal with three camps within a 2km radius numbering nearly 30 caravans. “At a meeting earlier in the spring, the local Garda leadership outlined how they were using a provision of the Housing Act to deal with illegal users of the Curragh Plains. The particular section required a court order, and this was proving of limited value due to delays - particulary during the summer when the District Court hours are reduced,” said Cllr O’Donnell.
“The Minister has now clarified that it is an offence for a person to enter on and occupy property without the consent of the owner,” he added. “Under the provisions of the Act, Gardaí have the power without warrant to arrest a person who fails to leave when requested and seize anything they bring onto the property in question e.g. caravans.” The penalties for persons found guilty of an offence under this Part of the Act include fines not exceeding €3,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one month or both.