Campaigners ask: "Do you park in disabled bays? Would you park in a taxi rank?"

A disabled car parking space user wants rogue motorists in Donegal hit with €150 fines for occupying disabled bays.

New regulations were introduced by the Department of Transport on March 1 to increase the penalty for illegally parking in a disabled bay from €80 to €150 and gardai launched Operation Enable to target shameless motorists who park in disabled bays.

But some campaigners claim the fines are not strictly enforced in Donegal, even though gardai have seized vehicles across the country that were parked in disabled bays without the correct blue badge permit.

Local campaigner Betty Holmes, who has a disability car parking permit, now wants Donegal County councillors to urge a crackdown against rogue motorists.

Photo shows a car badly parked. It is not known if the car is entitled to park in disabled bays. From Facebook page Parked Like A Knob In Letterkenny Photo shows a badly parked car. It is not known if the car is entitled to park in disabled bays. 

Betty Holmes Betty Holmes.

Betty has asked councillors to get the controversial issue on the agenda of the council’s next full meeting and she has vowed to attend the meeting to witness their discussions first-hand.

She told Donegal Now: “This was discussed at some of the last municipal district meetings [on March 13 past], but it was not on the agendas.

“I have contacted every councillor in each of the council’s five municipal districts to ask them to get this on the agenda for the next [full] meeting.

“I will be there. I am going to see what’s discussed.”

DISABLED DRIVERS HAVE HAD ENOUGH

Many wheelchair users in the county are fed up with able-bodied drivers selfishly parking vehicles in spots that are reserved for disabled drivers.

Betty, who is also chairwoman of the Donegal Action Against Cancer (DACC) group, said: “This has been an ongoing problem for a long time. I have written to Donegal County Council chief executive Seamus Neely and all the councillors.

“We want signage to warn motorists about the fines because there’s no point having the fines if people do not know about them.

“We need to deter people from parking in disabled spaces. We are asking that signs are erected to warn drivers that it is illegal to park in disabled bays.

“This is a major issue. Some people genuinely do not know where they are parking: they see a space there and they pull in.

“But there are people who abuse the spaces. There’s a total disregard for people who need disabled parking bays.

“It’s up to Donegal County Council and the councillors to do something about this and it needs to be done as soon as possible.

“It’s not acceptable. As a permit holder, I am very passionate about this.”

The signs would not be erected in private shopping centres because the new regulations apply only to parking under the authority of Donegal County Council; they are not applicable in private car parks.

PRIVATE OPERATORS

Private businesses do provide clearly marked disabled bays, but some campaigners claim that the owners cannot afford or are unwilling to penalise motorists who park in disabled spots because it would drive away custom.

Under the regulations introduced by the Department of Transport, offenders will have 28 days to pay €150 fines, but if it not paid within the allotted time, the fine will increase to €225 and the offender will have a further 28 days to pay.

If the fine is still not paid, a district court summons will follow.

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