Consuming alcohol in public parks or on beaches could see fines of €100 being imposed on drinkers, with failure to pay resulting in hefty increases of €1,500 and conviction before the District Court.
These are among the measures contained within a new set of proposed bye-laws drafted by Fianna Fáil Galway City West councillor Peter Keane, designed to regulate and control the consumption of alcohol in public places in Galway city.
The proposed laws, entitled Galway City Council (Regulation and Control of the Consumption of Intoxicating Liquor in Public Places ) (amendment ) Bye-laws 2014, is to come before a meeting of the city council, and Cllr Keane is confident it will be supported by his fellow elected members and be in place before the summer.
Speaking to the Galway Advertiser, Cllr Keane confirmed that a “radical overhaul” of the existing bye-laws was required as alcohol abuse in public parks and beaches “has become intolerable” and the current laws were “ineffective and proving impossible to enforce”.
The proposed bye-laws, if implemented, will see additional powers conferred on gardaí and Galway City Council agents of to seize, confiscate, and destroy intoxicating liquor in circumstances where a breach of the bye-laws has occurred.
The law will also allow the gardaí to have the power to impose a fixed charge penalty of €100 on any person in breach of the bye-laws and in circumstances where fines remain unpaid within 21 days, offenders will face an increased fine of up to €1,500 on conviction before the District Court.
“It is incumbent upon us as legislators to provide the appropriate powers to An Garda Síochána to curb this accelerating trend which is becoming a problem particularly during the summer months,” said Cllr Keane.
However, the new bye-laws are not aimed at a total prohibition on the consumption of alcohol in public places, as the proposed bye-laws will not apply to any private property or open air seated areas comprising the curtilages of licensed premises.
Furthermore, Cllr Keane has included provision in the bye-laws empowering the city manager, on written application being made 60 days in advance of a special event or festival, to relax the provisions of the bye-laws in designated licensed areas subject to conditions as the manager sees fit in respect of any such event.
“It is important for Galway,” said Cllr Keane, “as a major tourism hub, that patrons in certain circumstances be permitted to have a drink in public areas, but this must be controlled under licence from now on.”