Saturday 21 September 2019

Minister vows to combat the 'serious issue' of scrambler bikes in parks

Serious injuries: Ilabek Avetin was hit by an off-road bike
Serious injuries: Ilabek Avetin was hit by an off-road bike
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has pledged to deal with the blight of off-road scrambler bikes in parks as he offered his deepest sympathy to the wife of a man left with catastrophic injuries after he was hit by one.

Anzhela Kotsinian, wife of Ilabek Avetin, wrote to the minister earlier this month seeking clear legal penalties for anyone caught riding off-road bikes in public parks.

The couple were sunbathing in Darndale Park in Dublin on June 9 last when Mr Avetin was hit by a scrambler bike. He lost an eye and was left in a vegetative state.

An official in Mr Flanagan's office has written to Ms Kotsinian saying the minister "conveyed deepest sympathy in relation to what happened to your husband in June this year".

They said the minister was "keenly aware that this tragic incident is profoundly life-changing, not only for your husband but for you and your wider families.

"The minister is fully committed to supporting any positive actions that can be pursued to counteract this serious public safety issue.

"Over the past number of months, officials in the Department of Justice and Equality have been consulting with representatives from other Government departments to identify ways of combating this issue," they said.

"Such consultations have included an analysis of current legislation, with assistance from the Attorney General's office, to determine whether any legislation amendments are necessary to assist in curbing such activity."

The official said "detailed legal advice has recently been received" from the Attorney General's office and this is "now being carefully considered" by the Departments of Justice and Transport, "in so far as road traffic legislation is concerned".

Gardaí confirmed yesterday that their investigation into the incident in Darndale Park is continuing.

Ms Kotsinian, who is originally from Armenia, said: "These bikes should not be allowed in parks where families are.

"The law has to change to make people safe in parks across Ireland."

The Road Safety Authority released figures this week showing that 39 people were killed or injured in incidents involving off-road bikes on public roads in a four-year period.

Irish Independent

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