— Passerby who videoed the incident told by Garda that recording was “not allowed” due to GDPR, before being told to leave the area under the Public Order Act.
A cyclist who was legally cycling on the car-free Capel Street in Dublin on Saturday had his bicycle confiscated by Gardai and he was told he would be issued with a fine for cycling on a “pedestrian street”.
He also said that Gardai were signalling to others to dismount too.
The motor-traffic-free nature of the street has been widely misreported in the media as pedestrianisation and this has caused confusion for some members of the public. Cycling is allowed on Capel Street, as permitted by signage at entry points to the street.
Maitiú Ó Coimín, the member of the public who was involved, contacted IrishCycle.com. He said that Gardai refused to engage with him in Irish. He said that he interacted with officers on foot patrol first and a van arrived with more officers.
Video footage taken by a passerby and shared with Ó Coimín shows that at different points five officers surrounded Ó Coimín, at one stage one office left to tell the person recording that such recording is against GDPR, which is not accurate.
The officer claimed that with “GDPR, you’re not really allowed to do that” — again, this is not the case. Moments later, the officer ordered the passerby to leave the area under the Section 8, an apparent reference to the Public Order Act which is an order to leave an area under the threat of arrest.
The five officers then surrounded Ó Coimín again and the bicycle was taken off him and the bicycle was taken away.
In a statement issued this afternoon, a spokesperson from the Garda Press Office, Superintendent Liam Geraghty said: “Gardaí were on patrol on Capel St, Dublin, as part of Operation Citizen duty, on Saturday 10th September 2022. At approximately 1:15pm, a request was made to a cyclist to dismount, owing to the volume of pedestrians on the street at the time.”
The spokesperson added: “This request was refused and the bicycle was seized under the Road Traffic Act. This bicycle was later returned to the cyclist at Store St Garda station.”
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Ó Coimín told IrishCycle.com today that the volume of pedestrians at the time was not unusual for Capel Street and that he was directed by officers to dismount because it is a “pedestrian street” and they mentioned nothing about the volume of people on the street at the time.
“I was cycling southbound on the newly motor-traffic free Capel Street. There were two Gardaí on the street, one of whom made a vague hand gesture and then grabbed my bike to stop me cycling. I was surprised as the street is open to cyclists and I was not cycling in an erratic or dangerous manner,” said Ó Coimín. “He proceeded to tell me that I was in violation of the Road Traffic Act by ‘cycling’ on a pedestrianised street.”
Ó Coimín said: “I exercised my right to engage with the state in the first official language, a right he refused to acknowledge or grant, and after a time three other Gardaí arrived on the scene and wrestled by bicycle from me without explaining why there were signs on the street indicating that cycling was permitted.
“My bike was seized and brought to Store Street Garda station and released only upon the issue of a fixed fine of €40 for the supposed ‘offence’,” said Ó Coimín.
He added: “The Garda in question was in the wrong on two counts – in relation to the Road Traffic Acts and the Official Languages Act of 2003 and I intend to take the case further on both fronts.”
UPDATED: At the request of the Gardai, the spokesperson’s name has been changed.