A Cork campaigner has welcomed the recent sharp increase in the fixed charge for motorists who park in disabled bays without a permit.
From March 1, the penalty increased from €80 to €150, rising to €225 if not paid within 28 days. Failure to pay will result in court proceedings being initiated.
Announcing the increase, Minister for Transport Shane Ross said it was in response to the ‘selfish and thoughtless behaviour of certain motorists’.
According to figures from the Parking Services Office in 2017, 384 fines were issued in Cork city for parking in disabled spaces.
Donie O'Leary, Disability Officer at Cork City Partnership, warmly welcomed the increase.
“The abuses were blatant at times, we have all witnessed able-bodied people getting out of cars, sometimes carrying heavy bags and it is a blatant abuse of the system," he said.
Mr O'Leary said that enforcement levels in Cork are high.
"The wardens are very vigilant and have worked in a cohesive way,” he said.
“We have had reports from the warden supervisors to say they are increasingly vigilant and there is a big focus on it now.”
Mr O’Leary said the process of applying for a badge had also become more rigorous.
“The issuing of disabled badges has tightened up significantly, it is more stringent,” he said.
“Doctors don’t just say you can have a blue badge anymore. There are strict criteria in terms of mobility, respiratory system and other things.
“There is more extensive examination of the criteria prior to getting a badge.”
Mr O'Leary also reiterated that sometimes the reason for the disabled permit may not be obvious to passersby.
“It is not always visible. It isn’t just that you have a badge because you have a wheelchair, some people have severe heart conditions or other illnesses that are not visible.”