SENIOR Gardai in Cork have defended their approach to policing the new bus priority measures on Patrick St.
The controversial measures see private cars banned from driving on the city's main thoroughfare from 3pm to 6.30pm daily.
There has been some criticism from advocates and opponents of the measures that they are not being policed in any tangible manner, with private cars regularly seen flouting the ban.
However, Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said that the Gardai have taken a moderate approach to dealing with the new measures.
On a number of occasions in recent weeks, members of the Gardai could be seen on the street, including several instances where cars were viewed being pulled over.
Chief Supt McPolin told the meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that he did not have statistics on hand for the number of interceptions or fines.
He said: "An Garda Siochana has taken a very balanced, cognisant approach on this matter.
"Any miscreant drivers are dealt with by means of a caution and, indeed, if it is a repeat offender or another serious issue arises, it will result in a fine.
"We take a balanced approach."
The approach was welcomed by Senator Jerry Buttimer who said that it sends out the right message about Cork city.
"Cork City is open for business," he said.
"Gardai simply are not standing at the edge of the city waiting to hand out fines."
Senator Buttimer pointed to the switching on of the Christmas lights on Sunday as proof of what Cork can achieve as a city. Ann Doherty, chief executive of Cork City Council, confirmed that approximately 20,000 people attended the ceremony.
Senator Buttimer said: "The atmosphere was great. There were huge queues for businesses selling hot chocolate, tea, coffee and food. We need to continue to look at ways to improve footfall in the city centre but it is important to portray the message that we are open and we want to work with stakeholders on this."