DUBLIN City Council has denied it authorised free parking for its employees beside the St Stephen's Green shopping centre.
Six vehicles without parking receipts visible on the dashboard were observed by the Herald in a pay-and-display area on Bow Lane East in Dublin 2.
High-vis jackets emblazoned with the words Dublin City Council were draped over each of the driver seats. None of the cars had been clamped.
One of the vehicles had a visitor's permit on display but it appeared out of date.
A disgruntled member of the public had complained to the Herald that the spaces are "under continuous occupation" by council workers.
At €2.90 per hour, the area is one of the dearest and highest demand parking zones in the capital. The council would be able to earn revenue of about €60,000 a year from the spaces if they were available to shoppers and other city centre visitors.
A council spokeswoman said it "does not condone illegal parking by any vehicles".
"Council staff are not exempt from parking regulations. The roads and traffic department have contacted our parking enforcement contractor to arrange to have enforcement action taken against any illegally parked vehicles at this location," she informed the Herald.
The spokeswoman said that what was observed on Bow Lane East last Thursday "would not have been an approved practice".
She said she could not comment on whether an agreement existed between the clampers and council employees.
The spokeswoman said she is not aware of a similar practice anywhere else in the city.
"This is the first I have heard of it," she told the Herald.
A spokesman for Dublin Street Parking Services, which carries out clamping on behalf of the council, referred queries to the local authority.
In an email to the Herald, a member of the public said the spaces are "under continuous occupation" and the "council couldn't care less".
He added that the workers "put their shiny jackets" in the cars, "indicating they belong' to the council".
"For some reason they are never ever clamped. This costs the council about €60k per annum," he complained.
The man added: "It must be pretty sweet to get a free space because you work in town. I mean, thousands of other people work in town and would get towed if they tried a stunt like this."
He said the parking arrangement is "something I have observed over time".