COMMENT & ANALYSIS: The Sunday Independent isn’t seen as one of the most cycling-friendly newspapers, but in yesterday’s newspaper Jim Cusack wrote how the Gardai have not followed up on a hit-and-run driver who could have killed his daughter, but luckily only crushed her bicycle.
While his daughter Georgia waited at a red light at a side-road off Dublin’s Pearse Street last November, a driver broke the red light and drove over her bicycle — which she was able to jump off.
It’s understandable why Gardai explain to people the messiness of looking for a driver to be prosecuted. But even with a number of witnesses, and Dublin Bus CCTV footage (which it seems the Gardai did not follow up quickly enough), a garda stilled stressed the issue. Georgia Cusack explained:
“I made a statement and the garda asked me if I wanted to press charges. He told me it would be a hassle and I might have to go to court. He said sometimes it was the driver’s word against mine and it can become messy”
Last time the Cusack checked, the Gardai had not contacted the witnesses and now 7 months after the hit-and-run was reported, no known action has been taken against the driver who is likely still on the road.
Many people who are involved in incidents with motorists say that the Gardai have acted and done so reasonably promptly, but where the driver is obstructive or does not want to be found, the Gardai are often left without the resources to follow up each case. Given the volume of drivers in the city centre which are not residents of the city centre, local Gardai investigating any case will also be faced with extra travel time to follow up with drivers.
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We know that the Gardai are under pressure from successive cutbacks and this has affected their ability to effectively police our roads and streets. Numbers of officers are down generally and reports earlier this year said that Traffic Corps officer numbers have declined by around 40 percent.
While gardai are under strain to do their work, we also know from online and other accounts that sometimes incidents are only taken seriously when there has been bodily harm — isn’t that the wrong point to act?