Across the City, Gardaí Park on Footpaths and Double-Yellow Lines – and Residents Seethe

Caitriona Kenny says she’d had enough of seeing Garda cars parked up on the footpath near her children’s school in Grangegorman.

So, on 29 June, when she saw it happening again, she went over to say something.

“Now I’m not confrontational or a brave person,” she says, recalling it on Friday. “So I was, like, I was shaking going up to the window.”

The Garda car was parked with the engine idling on a corner with double yellow lines, outside Kale+Coco café, even though there were available car parking spaces nearby, she says.

The car was there when she went to collect her children, and it was still there when she came back out, Kenny says.

So she went over and told the guard they weren’t setting a good example. As she was talking, she saw a second garda walking towards the car holding a coffee.

“And I said to the guard, look, if you’re here working, that’s totally different,” she said.

Kenny is not the only person who sees Garda cars parked on footpaths around the city, and isn’t happy about it.

However, some Dublin city councillors say it’s legal for Gardaí to break some road-traffic laws while on duty, and, besides, people who see them parking on footpaths might not know the whole story of why they are doing that.

An Garda Síochana didn’t respond to queries asking why Gardaí are often seen parking on footpaths, and whether they face enforcement action, and what its response is to members of the public who find it frustrating.

A Regular Occurrence

Kenny says she thinks the Gardaí with the car in Grangegorman might have been embarrassed when she called them out that day.

“They were very quiet. And they said, point well made, when I pointed out the car parking spaces,” she says.

“There was no, like, apology or acceptance that what they did was wrong,” she says. “I imagine that very few people actually approach the Guards.”

Kenny had seen Garda cars parked on double yellow lines four other times in June, she says. “Stopped for a prolonged period of time, either idling or parked.”

Mannix Flynn, an independent councillor, says that occasionally, Gardaí park their private vehicles on the footpath. “It doesn’t happen as much as he used to.”

Brendan Lynch, who lives in Portobello, says he too sees Garda cars parked on footpaths several times a month, and he usually takes a photo.

He’s seen them parked outside the Kevin Street Garda station – where there is a two-level underground car park – and also private cars frequently parked outside the Garda offices on Harcourt Street, he says.

Lynch says when sees Gardaí and Dublin City Council vehicles parked on footpaths or cycle lanes, it epitomises their attitude that they don’t take enforcement of footpath parking seriously.

“That their approach is to accommodate private cars at the expense of people trying to walk, people trying to cycle, people just trying to live in a city.”

Kenny lives in Cabra, where there is a big problem with footpath parking, she says, making it dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

When cars are completely blocking the footpath, it means pedestrians likely have to walk out onto the road and potentially into dangerous traffic in order to get around, says Lynch.

“Somebody in a wheelchair, somebody who’s blind, you know, a small child who might not be able to see over a vehicle,” he says.

Even if the car isn’t fully blocking the footpath for pedestrians, it still wears down the footpaths, he says. It can make pavement stones loose and the ground uneven, creating issues for those using wheelchairs and prams, he says.

What Should Be Done?

In the Road Traffic Act 1961, section 55 (1) says a person shall not park a vehicle in a public place if, when so parked, the vehicle would be likely to cause danger to other persons using that place.

Under the act, section 87, there are exemptions for emergency vehicles driven by members of An Garda Síochána, “in the performance of the duties of that member […] where such use does not endanger the safety of road users”.

Janet Horner, the Green Party councillor, says she doesn’t think that Gardaí necessarily need to face enforcement for parking on the footpath, since they are permitted to do so while performing their duties – but they shouldn’t do it.

The Gardaí have a mandate to keep people safe in the city, Horner says. “And yet they’re behaving in a way that explicitly puts people in danger, and that is antisocial and specifically affects the most vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists.”

Lynch says he’s reported the issue to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and they said that Gardaí have reasons for not finding somewhere to park legally.

“They say, you know, there’s not always time to do this or that, or to find somewhere else to park and then walk over, and they’re doing their best,” he says.

He also reported spotting Garda cars parked on the Bride Street footpath outside Kevin Street Garda station, he says.

“The matter has been highlighted with the supervisors of the drivers concerned,” said Superintendent Paul Murphy in response.

When Garda cars are parked outside Kevin Street, says Flynn, the independent councillor, they’re on duty.

“They’re not parking there permanently, you know what I mean, they’re parking there while they do whatever they have to do at the station, with the individual that they’ve arrested or otherwise,” he said.

Lynch says Gardaí should have to have their lights on to show they are in an emergency situation and need to park on the footpath.

“I don’t think grabbing a chicken roll, grabbing a coffee, should be considered performance of their duties,” he says.

Danny Byrne, a Fine Gael councillor, says it’s not so clear-cut when Gardaí are parked on a footpath.

“It might look to you and I like they are going in for a coffee, but they might be observing, you know, somebody in the vicinity, and going in for a coffee might be a kind of a ruse to see what’s going on in the building next door,” he says.

“I would make allowances for the Gardaí,” he says, “based on, you know, their law enforcement role.”

CORRECTION: This article was updated at 15:32 on 6 July 2022 to reflect the correct area where Brendan Lynch lives.

Filed under:

Author:

Claudia Dalby: Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at [email protected]

Reader responses

Log in to write a response.

Robert Lawson
at 6 July at 09:42

Reassuring to see them on so many stakeouts.

Understand your city

We do in-depth, original reporting about the issues that shape Dublin. We're not funded by advertisers. We're funded by readers like you.

We use first-party cookies to allow visitors to log in to our website and read our articles.