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Saturday 21 April 2018

‘We were right,’ says council in John Waters jail row

John Waters
John Waters
John Waters is taken to prison
John Waters arrives at Dun Laoghaire garda station

Cormac Murphy

DUN Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has hit back at criticism by journalist John Waters, denying its parking enforcement policies are bad for business.

Mr Waters made the accusation after being jailed over a €40 parking fine.

He said the council's parking enforcement methods have “decimated” Dun Laoghaire by scaring customers away.

But the council said its policies are “focused on making major capital investments in the town” and “continuing to ensure that increases in commercial rates and other charges imposed on businesses are below the rate of inflation”.

A spokesman added it is also “improving the quality of services we provide and working with local businesses to promote and market the town”.

 “Dun Laoghaire, in common with towns similar in size and scale throughout the country, has a parking and enforcement policy and is of the opinion that these policies are not adversely affecting the businesses in the town of Dun Laoghaire,” it added.

Mr Waters was fined after arriving back at his car 16 minutes after the time had expired.

He said the practice in Dun Laoghaire had always been to allow a grace period of 20 minutes for an hour's parking.

But the council said: “Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council decided to introduce a grace period to assist the council's customers and business operations in the council's administrative area.

“Motorists ... are given a grace period in which to purchase and display a valid pay-and-display ticket.”

It added the period is 15 minutes.

A 15-minute period is also allowed after the expiry of the paid parking time.

The writer spent two hours in a cell in Dublin's Wheatfield prison over his refusal to pay a parking fine dating back two years.

Mr Waters handed himself in at Dun Laoghaire Garda Station the day before yesterday and was whisked away in a patrol car, flanked by two gardai.

He later described his experience as “frightening”, but said he would not pay the money “on a point of principle”.

Mr Waters told RTE's Morning Ireland: “The background to this was that Dun Laoghaire was decimated over the previous couple of years by aggressive parking enforcement.

“A number of people had spoken to me about it. I decided I would take a stand on this.”

Mr Waters added that there are 100 vacant lots in the town and blamed the council parking policy.

Giving more details on his time in jail, he said he was processed, searched “a bit like an airport”, taken upstairs and booked in.

“I was weighed, measured and photographed. Then I was put into a holding cell with two prisoners, both of whom were in different situations due to drunken or disorderly behaviour,” he added.

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