Motorists who ignore fines from the North to face court
MOTORISTS who refuse to pay parking fines issued in Northern Ireland will no longer escape scot-free.
A deal between the Government and authorities in the North announced yesterday will result in drivers being pursued across the Border -- and through the courts -- if they refuse to pay parking and toll charges in either jurisdiction.
From today, contact details of drivers will be exchanged between both governments so that offenders can be punished.
The move is aimed at stopping the culture of non-payment which is costing taxpayers millions in lost revenue.
Thousands of drivers who refuse to pay tolls and parking tickets do so in the knowledge they cannot be pursued by authorities.
Figures show that the National Roads Authority (NRA) is owed €1.7m in unpaid M50 tolls by motorists in the North, while the North's Department of the Environment is owed €1.9m in unpaid parking tickets and fines by southern motorists.
About 3pc of the 100,000 vehicles which use the M50 every day are non-Irish, and most are from Northern Ireland.
About half of this amount pay the toll which means the NRA is losing out on daily revenue of €4,500 or €1.6m a year.
But Transport Minister Noel Dempsey has announced details of a pilot project which will run until November where both sides will exchange data allowing offending motorists to be traced and summoned to court for non-payment.
"Data relating to vehicle ownership will be exchanged for the purpose of traffic law enforcement, including parking offences and toll evasion," Mr Dempsey said.
"The data will be transferred using the highest level of security and will be monitored in each jurisdiction through an agreed audit regime."
Northern minister Conor Murphy, from the Department for Regional Development, said it was "important" that all road users complied with parking and traffic restrictions.
"Parking control is an essential part of traffic management and road safety wherever you live on this island and this new measure will strengthen enforcement.
"Illegal parking leads to congested roads, blocked accesses and frustrated drivers.
"No one wants to get a parking ticket and I would again urge drivers to park properly and have a thought for other motorists and pedestrians."