Govt Garda house break-ins, to silence alarms used as excuse *

Yahoo News
27.08.2008

Proposed tough new powers allowing garda to break into houses and cars to turn off noisy alarms could run into legal difficulties, the Government admitted today.

Environment Minister John Gormley said the option was being seriously considered as a way to tackle noise pollution and may be rolled out if the Attorney General approves it.

Householders would be invoiced for the costs incurred by garda called to disable the alarms.

The last resort measure forms part of a series of proposals on which the public will be able to give their views until the end of October.

Mr Gormley said: “You have to appreciate that there may be constitutional difficulties with that.

“Private property is highly regarded in this country and to enter a private premises to do that is something we have to look at very carefully.

“We’ve put it in as part of the process, if there are too many difficulties, constitutional difficulties, it may not be part of the legislation.”

Mr Gormley said if the Attorney General says the move is legal under the constitution, the Government will pursue it.

“There are many other steps that we can take and that is a fairly draconian one.”

“The point is, what are the legal implications, can it be done easily, are there severe constitutional difficulties?

“If it means a constitutional change, it would be difficult to pursue. If it doesn’t, then we can pursue it.”

Garda will also be given the same powers as local authority officers under the new proposals and will be able to impose on-the-spot fines for rowdy tenants and householders.

Currently garda cannot issue fines or take action against noisy residents.

“This would have an immediate effect,” Mr Gormley said.

The public consultation ends in late October and Mr Gormley said he hopes to have legislation ready by next March.

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