Rickshaw drug raids as gardai make arrests
Undercover gardai have arrested a number of city rickshaw drivers for selling drugs.
The arrests were made by Pearse Street Garda Station, which covers the busiest areas for the pedal-cab drivers, over the past three weekends.
In a separate operation, a driver was targeted after a community policing unit was given intelligence that he was selling drugs.
Previously, the Herald told how drivers approached by the newspaper were found to be selling drugs, including weed and cocaine.
Our undercover investigation revealed that drugs are kept under rickshaw seats which are locked.
A gram of weed is sold for €25, while a gram of cocaine is sold for €100. Pills are sold for €10.
It is understood that drivers are organised at street level but it is not clear who their supplier is or who they are selling on behalf of.
Rickshaws are not covered by transport legislation and drivers do not have to be registered.
Gda Insp Liam Geraghty, of Pearse Street Garda Station, said gardai are "as aware as anyone of the issues with some rickshaws drivers".
He said gardai will continue to crack down on those that are selling drugs. He also said the laws around the pedal-cabs are a "grey area".
There have been repeated calls for stricter rules governing rickshaws but an attempt by Dublin City Council (DCC) to clamp down on the industry failed in 2013.
Lawyers for the council ruled the council did not have the power to introduce new bye-laws, instead legislation would have to come from the Government.
Despite ongoing work between the Department of Transport, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and DCC to draw up new rules, there is no timeline for draft laws to be published.
At the moment gardai can enforce the rules of the road to stop rickshaws driving dangerously. Drivers are also subject to the penalties introduced for cyclists last year.
Insp Geraghty said the lack of specific laws can be a hindrance.
"Rickshaws are a grey area because they fall between a pedal cycle and an MPV (mechanically propelled vehicle) as defined by the road traffic act. This makes them difficult to deal with.
"There are some that are pure pedal cycles where the driver literally has to pedal to take off. There is absolutely no regulation to cover what they're doing. They're not an MPV and they don't come under taxi or hackney laws.
"The pedal cycle fines are not designed for what rickshaws are doing. If they are MPVs they should have registration, licences, lights, NCT or a hackney licence."
Many of the vehicles are a combination of the two types of rickshaws and it comes down to gardai on the street making a "judgement call", he said.
"The owners will produce paperwork to say it's a pedal cycle and we would need engineers reports to counteract that argument and getting that at 2am on Grafton Street isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world to do," he added.
A number of prosecutions have been successful in Dublin's district court recently where the judge determined the cabs were in fact MPV and were subject to road traffic laws.
"The bigger concern is that we have drivers of these vehicles who are picking up members of the public, and we don't know who the driver is.
"There is obviously a public safety concern that we know who the driver is and we know they are vetted and if anything happens we can trace what driver is on what vehicle."