‘Sue-happy’ culture behind parks and beaches bylaws

A second draft of proposed bylaws for parks, beaches and open spaces will be brought forward by Galway City Council in November – with the new proposals set to be cognisant of submissions from the public on the contentious regulations.

At a meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) for Environment, Recreation and Amenity on Wednesday, it was decided the original proposal should be altered to include relevant suggestions from the public.

During a display period, City Hall was flooded with some 371 submissions – with Parks Superintendent, Stephen Walsh, conceding that there were few positive responses to the original draft.

Mr Walsh said that while there had been a large volume of responses, a number of them were repetitive “group thinking” while others were not relevant to the bylaws in question.

Some of the proposed regulations include a ban on picking flowers, climbing trees, horse riding on beaches – as well as the curtailing of cycling, rollerblading or skateboarding on the Prom and in public parks.

“Some people saw it as an opportunity to be quite aggressive towards us and made comments that were, frankly, not acceptable.

“I saw a lack of understanding about the purpose of bylaws; maybe it’s a lack of confidence in local government,” said Mr Walsh.

He said that while it was not the primary driving factor for the introduction of the bylaws, litigation against the Council is contributory to the need for them – with personal injury claims against the local authority a major drain on resources.
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