Smoking will be banned and children may not be allowed to ride their tricyles in public parks around County Limerick unless proposed new bye-laws from are amended.
The draft-bye-laws state that there is a “general prohibition” on cycling within public park areas.
And the rules, as they stand, are not clear about exempting children and give no indication of any possible cut-off age.
The only exception is that cycling will be permitted on designated cycling routes within the parks.
In addition, the bye-laws expressly forbid cycling in the fenced-off areas of the county’s seven purpose-built playgrounds and five mini-pitches.
No member of the public objected to the cycling ban when the draft bye-laws went on public display earlier this year. The only submission on cycling came from the Gardai who asked for clarification on the matter.
Moreover, breaking the proposed bye-law on cycling– or any of the many others – will carry a fine of €75.
This fine can be imposed, for example, for drinking alcohol or taking drugs in a park, or for operating a model aircraft. It also applies to making a bonfire or barbecue, climbing trees or fences, writing graffitti or dumping litter, trampling flowerbeds or damaging trees or shrubs.
There is also a list of six offences relating to animals.
But in the long list of things “not to do”, it was the smoking ban which caught the attention of Rathkeale area councillors last week.
“I can see people in my mind’s eye, walking the riverbank in Askeaton and smoking their pipe. What harm are they doing?” asked Askeaton’s Cllr Kevin Sheahan. “I am totally in favour of no-smoking in enclosed areas” he added, but argued there was a “limit to the type of regulations we bring in”.
“The law says you can smoke in the open air,” declared Cllr David Naughton, who was opposed to a generalised ban on smoking within parks.
“Is it enforceable? If there is somebody caught is there anything can be done about it?” he demanded before adding: “I think it is getting to a stage where we are not living in a democracy.”
Director of services for community, Josephine Cotter-Coughlan said, however, that the smoking ban would apply only to the county’s seven playgrounds and five multi-purpose pitches.
ASH, the anti-smoking group, she told councillors had requested this in their submission and she pointed out that play-areas in Britain were no-smoking areas.
On the issue of enforcement, Ms Cotter-Coughlan said council officials and members of the Garda would be in a position to enforce the bye-laws.
The bye-laws, which have been discussed by councillors in Rathkeale and Castleconnell, will now go before councillors in Adare, Kilmallock and Newcastle West. The matter is due to come before the full council at its October meeting.
The bye-laws contain a special section for children’s playgrounds to ensure maximum safety for the children.
For example, the regulations will prevent adults who are not looking after a child from being in the playground.
And they also specifically forbid adults taking photographs or videos of children, unless it’s their own child.
Among the new regulations also will be a ban on people above a certain age using the playground equipment.