Former transport minister Leo Varadkar said he has no records and no clear recollection to relating to mandatory use of cycle lanes — a matter which he says is now for Minister Shane Ross.
The Department of Transport’s current stance — that mandatory use of cycle tracks was not revoked in 2012 — is viewed by cycling campaigners as a misinterpretation.
With a Freedom of Information request finding no evidence that Minister Varadkar was told of the issues with the law, and, now with Varadkar stating he has no records of such, it is the strongest indication to date that the Department of Transport reinterpreted the law sometime after Varadkar had left it — nearly two years after after the law was changed.
The now minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, said: “I ceased to be Transport Minister over two years ago. I am afraid, I do not have a clear recollection of the details or discussion around this particular Statutory Instrument and have no records from my time as Minister. They are retained by the Dept Transport, Tourism & Sport . I am sorry that I cannot be of assistance with your enquiry. This is now a matter for Minister Ross.”
- JULY 12: Mandatory cycle track law not revoked in 2012, says department
- JULY 12: Dept view of cycle track mandatory use a “misinterpretation”
- JULY 22: Rules of the Road change on cycle lanes based on advice from Department of Transport, says RSA
- SEPTEMBER 30: Cycle lane mandatory use: Leo Varadkar was left in the dark over error
While Varadkar was minister at the Department of Transport, he made a strong commitment in the Dail to revoke the general law of mandatory use of cycle lanes (leaving only contra-flow cycle lanes and lanes in pedestrian areas covered as mandatory to use). It was later indicated that secondary legislation — called SI 332 of 2012 — would do this and the explanatory note of SI 332 of 2012 claims that the legislation does such.
But officials in his former department have said that the removal of mandatory use never happened and the explanatory note is the only thing which is wrong.
Officials in the Development of Transport have gone as far as to suggest that there was no intent to change the law in relation to mandatory use and they still have to consult with the Gardai and RSA on the matter. This is despite Minister Varadkar having stood up in the Dail and stated that it was Government policy to revoke mandatory use.
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Our questions have gone unanswered on why there is the conflict between the department’s new stance and statements from the then minister and the department’s press office just before the law was changed.