Wednesday 28 June 2017

Clampers run abuse gauntlet on a daily basis

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

Verbal abuse of car clampers is now so commonplace in Dublin that the city council no longer records them and there have been three incidents of physical assaults on clampers in the country last year.

Last year in Dundalk a local man received a three-month sentence for grabbing a traffic warden by the throat and punching him in the face after he was asked to remove a van parked on double yellow lines at the entrance to a town hall.

In the UK some parking wardens have been issued with head-mounted video cameras to deter assaults.

In Ennis, Co Clare, trade union leaders have clashed with the local town council following a spate of attacks.

It followed a court case in which a pensioner was charged with biting and scratching a traffic warden in in the town.

Last week at Ennis Circuit Court, Marcus Kelly, 68, of Hermitage, Ennis, appeared in connection with the assault of local traffic warden, Martin Ryan, at Arthur's Row, Ennis, on July 11, 2008.

Mr Kelly had initially been convicted in the District Court of the assault where he was fined €250 but appealed the severity of sentence to the Circuit Court last week.

Garda Michael Sweeney told the court that Mr Kelly bit Mr Ryan on the ribcage and scratched his face during the altercation.

Counsel for Mr Kelly, Elaine Power, said Mr Kelly approached Mr Ryan as he had felt very aggrieved over Mr Ryan issuing a parking ticket to Mr Kelly's wife, who is disabled.

Ms Power said the incident was out of character for Mr Kelly.

Judge James O'Donohoe said: "Biting and scratching someone during the course of their job is very serious.

"It may have been out of character for the man, but he cannot resort to physical violence. It doesn't resolve these problems," the judge said.

Ms Power said Mr Kelly has no previous convictions and his wife suffers from a degenerative muscular disease and is a wheelchair user, while he also is the full-time carer for his disabled 14-year-old daughter.

Ms Power said Mr Kelly had a pension of €162 per week and was of limited means. State solicitor Martin Linnane confirmed that Mr Kelly was a man of excellent character.

The judge said that traffic wardens had an unenviable job and he would look on the case sympathetically if there was an apology from Mr Kelly.

After a short adjournment, Ms Power told the judge that Mr Kelly and Mr Ryan had shaken hands outside court and Mr Kelly had apologised for his actions.

The judge said that in view of the apology made and the serious burdens Mr Kelly has, he would impose the Probation Act and strike out the fine imposed in the District Court.

He applauded traffic warden Mr Ryan "for his Christianity" in shaking hands with Mr Kelly and accepting his apology.

But in a statement issued after the case, SIPTU stated that there had been a number of assaults on traffic wardens in Ennis and there was an obligation on the council to fulfil its duty of care for all employees to work in a safe environment.

"Their failure to do so has caused much upset and anxiety to members in recent times and was a concern in a recent dispute with the employer," the statement concluded.

That was a reference to a recent dispute between the union and the council in which wardens put in a claim seeking danger money payments following assaults, while issuing parking tickets to Ennis motorists.

Sunday Independent

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