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Bicycle confiscated from cyclist when cycling on Capel Street, where cycling is allowed

— 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.

ALSO READ: Car-free Capel Street “may be in trouble” as councillors lobbied by businesses and motorists.

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.”


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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.”

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.

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17 comments

  1. And will there be an admission by AGS of their mistakes? (no there won’t). And will there be retraining of the Gardai in question? (no there won’t). An institution that doesn’t learn from its mistakes, and that doesn’t even admit its mistakes, is a broken institution.

    Reply
  2. It is a classic account of abuse of powers. But fining him at the station to make matters worse? That really surprises me as it indicates the Guard in charge of overseeing such things in the station doesn’t appear to know the law either. I’m sure it was extremely threatening and stressful for Maitiú also.The damage that would have caused cannot be reimbursed when they accept they acted unlawfully. But fair dues to Maitiú for standing his ground on all of the issues and I hope he gets this resolved sufficiently. If he hasnt already done it, he should contact GSOC. Brilliant journalism and public service, as usual from Cian. Thanks for it.

    Reply
  3. The below quote is from”Dublin Live” (Online). Ir refers to that same Sunday.

    “I rang them here last Sunday. There were lads on the bridge, an older crowd between the ages of 16 and 20, and the guards didn’t turn up. The local added: “They were charging at each other and carrying weapons.”

    Yet, on the same day, five Guards (on foot and with a van) were able to ambush and terrorist a cyclist less than 500 hundred yards further down the Liffey for cycling on a cycling street?

    Reply
  4. Thanks for reporting this, Cian. And we (Irish people) smugly tut at British police arresting someone peacefully protesting against the monarchy…

    Reply
  5. To be fair, if you go down the route of insisting on a member of AGS interacting with you as gaeilge you’re probably really rubbing them up the wrong way. They should have known cycling is allowed but it kinda sounds like it could have been handled better on both sides.

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      • Not endorsing it at all. The Gardaí in question should know the rules for Capel Street at this stage, it’s been like that ages now, and surely it didn’t merit impounding the bike and applying a fine to get it back.
        However IF the street was indeed busy i know i personally would have slowed right down and made it obvious that i was allowing pedestrians to have loads of space. Pedestrians are prone to jumping out of nowhere without looking for a bike even if we are allowed to be there. I dont want someone knockin me off my bike and potentially damaging my frame.
        When they brought in the fines for cyclists several years ago there were 5 or 6 categories and if i remember right there was one catch-all category that was basically the ‘dont rub us up the wrong way’ category. i wonder if they applied this category of ‘offence’ here??
        As for insisting on speaking in Irish that’s trying to use a loophole (if it is one) to not cooperate. If you were a garda how would that look to you? What percentage of the public could conduct a conversation in that situation in Irish?
        It certainly does sound like they acted heavy handed and I’m not endorsing it but common sense should have prevailed on both sides.

        Reply
  6. Why don’t the Garda start tackling the youths that are cycling around the city and pulling wheelies down the wrong side of the road? They should start policing the city properly instead of this shite.

    Reply
  7. This should not have happened, but if the closing off of the street is described as ‘pedestrianisation’ then this will stick in the minds of local Garda members.
    The confiscation of the bike under the Road Traffic Act, 1961 illustrates the sweeping powers gardai can deploy against cyclists. If you as much as say boo to them your bike can be confiscated (hence the appearance of the accompanying van).

    Reply
    • That’s a very good point. I’m sure every other outlet refers to it, wrongly, as pedestrianised too which will stick it peoples heads that pedestrianised roads are a nightmare. Do you think the above would have fallen into the “riding a bike without reasonable consideration” bucket?

      Reply
  8. Hi @all especially @Cian I cycled past Capel St yesterday. At the bottom of the traffic free section (south end of the street) is a sign saying the street is ‘Pedestrianised’. This suggests cyclists can’t cycle either northbound or southbound through it. Possible to get clarity from DCC on this?

    Reply
  9. @Cian – thanks! So the sign should read ‘Pedestrian entry only’ instead of ‘Pedestrianised zone’? If I was a rookie garda and I saw that sign and then saw a cyclist I would probably jump to the wrong conclusion.

    Reply
  10. I can see why that’s logical way I’d reading that but the regulations allow different access to pedestrians streets/zones depending on the signage at entry point — this applies to deliveries as well as bicycles.

    The council could fix the clarity issue by providing for northbound cycling straight away.

    Reply
  11. I wonder are local businesses putting-up their own confusing signs? If a cyclist is breaking the law then I am all for him being fined, though the manner that guy was dealt with was still very heavy-handed. But we need definite clear and non-contradicting information from both DCC and the Gardai. The local Guards should know precisely what the situation is, irrespective of whatever sign is erected. But if they have gotten it wrong (as Cian appears to be saying-correct me if I am wrong) then given that they only have a limited area to cover and are presumably being briefed on such things by senior colleagues before they go out to he streets that they are patrolling-then its was inexcusable. I mean, if the Guards don’t know the law, what hope for the rest of us?

    Reply

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