Gardaí swoop on rickshaw drug dealers amid calls in Dáil for new legislation
*Independent.ie investigation reveals extent of drug dealing in city centre *Gardaí carrying out investigation into drug peddlers *TDs calling for legislation to be introduced
Published 24/11/2016 | 11:46
Undercover gardaí have arrested a number of city rickshaw drivers for selling drugs.
The arrests were made by Pearse Street Garda Station, which covers the busiest areas for the pedal-cab drivers, over the past three weekends.
In a separate operation, a driver was targeted after a community policing unit was given intelligence that he was selling drugs.
Previously, Independent.ie told how drivers approached in the capital were found to be selling drugs, including weed and cocaine.
Our undercover investigation revealed that drugs are kept under rickshaw seats which are locked.
A gram of weed is sold for €25, while a gram of cocaine is sold for €100. Pills are sold for €10.
It is understood that drivers are organised at street level but it is not clear who their supplier is or who they are selling on behalf of.
Rickshaws are not covered by transport legislation and drivers do not have to be registered.
Gda Insp Liam Geraghty, of Pearse Street Garda Station, said gardai are "as aware as anyone of the issues with some rickshaws drivers".
He said gardaí will continue to crack down on those that are selling drugs. He also said the laws around the pedal-cabs are a "grey area".
"Rickshaws are a grey area because they fall between a pedal cycle and an MPV (mechanically propelled vehicle) as defined by the road traffic act. This makes them difficult to deal with.
"There are some that are pure pedal cycles where the driver literally has to pedal to take off. There is absolutely no regulation to cover what they're doing. They're not an MPV and they don't come under taxi or hackney laws.
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"The pedal cycle fines are not designed for what rickshaws are doing. If they are MPVs they should have registration, licences, lights, NCT or a hackney licence."
Many of the vehicles are a combination of the two types of rickshaws and it comes down to gardai on the street making a "judgement call", he said.
"The bigger concern is that we have drivers of these vehicles who are picking up members of the public, and we don't know who the driver is.
"There is obviously a public safety concern that we know who the driver is and we know they are vetted and if anything happens we can trace what driver is on what vehicle."
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on the National Drugs Strategy Jack Chambers TD, raised the issue in the Dáil on Wednesday.
“We saw an undercover investigation in Dublin around rickshaws and the act of drug dealing. Some examples of that were shown. Is it the intention of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to develop a regulatory policy with the National Transport Authority around rickshaw licensing, insurance and other matters?”
In response, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “They are two separate things. Dealing in and selling illegal drugs is a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána, which has a particular expertise in this area through the drug squads which are funded by Government.
“Obviously, the Minister will look at the question of mobile vehicles of one description or another. They seem to change every so often. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport will reflect on the scale of rickshaw movement throughout the city.”
Speaking to Independent.ie, Jack Chambers said it is shocking that the drug dealing is happening in such a public and organised way.
"That rickshaw operators are engaged in drug dealing like this is very concerning, particularly when it is almost entirely young people who use them and normally after they have consumed alcohol, making them more vulnerable.
"This further highlights the need for Minister Shane Ross to finally act to restore some control with regard to rickshaws."