herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

Undercover Gardai to target touts as repeat offenders may face jail

The GAA Ticket Office, Dorset St. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The GAA Ticket Office, Dorset St. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Undercover gardai will target ticket touts outside Croke Park ahead of tomorrow's All-Ireland Final between Dublin and Mayo in a clamp down on those looking to cash in on the huge demand for the sell-out clash.

The garda effort to target illegal vendors is part of a large-scale policing plan put in place for the sell-out event.

Ticket touts can face massive fines or a maximum prison term of six months if prosecuted.

A massive effort has been made to prevent touts flogging tickets for above face value online, and now officers on the ground will tackle illegal sellers.

"There will be a significant garda presence as expected, and as part of the operation Gardai will target individuals who are suspected of selling tickets, over face value, without license," a source said.

A ticket tout selling outside Croke Park last year. Photo: Mark Condren
A ticket tout selling outside Croke Park last year. Photo: Mark Condren

"The people who continuously tout tickets around Croke Park are known and will also be the focus of garda attention."

Plain-clothed officers, who will be on patrol, will be briefed on touts operating outside Croke Park on match day.

The source added: "Given that very few tickets are available online on resale sites, the demand will be greater around the stadium before the match and touts will attempt to exploit the public by charging them extortionate prices."

The Casual Trading Act 1995 makes it illegal for an individual to sell tickets in a public place without a licence, and gives gardai powers to arrest illegal vendors and seize any merchandise, including tickets.

Depending on previous offences for illegally selling tickets, they can be fined anything between €50 and €10,000 - while conviction on indictment can carry a six-month imprisonment.

Prosecuted

In 2015, a Polish FA official was prosecuted under the legislation after being arrested with 12 tickets for the Ireland against Poland international outside the Aviva Stadium.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, who has drafted an anti-touting bill has welcomed the efforts of gardai and the GAA to target the resale of tickets.

"Obviously I welcome any move by the GAA or An Garda Siochana to regulate and police the unauthorised resale of tickets for above face value," he said.

"However, it is quite clear that specific legislation is needed to target those who are making a business out of fleecing regular fans both offline and online, and I hope to have legislation in place by the end of the year."

The private members' bill, drafted by Mr Rock and Independent TD Stephen Donnelly, would ban the resale of tickets for above face value, with the exception of tickets auctioned for charity.

A garda spokesman confirmed that officers will be made aware of ticket touts operating around Croke Park ahead of the football final.

"As part of the policing plan for every event policed by An Garda Siochana, members are briefed on illegal ticket selling."

Gardai have warned the public about the dangers of buying match-day tickets from touts.

"Members of the public are advised before the event not to purchase tickets from unlicensed vendors. The public often only realise they have purchased counterfeit tickets when they arrive at the point of entry," a spokesperson said.

Bookmaker Paddy Power expects €4.5million to be bet on tomorrow's final, with the majority backing Mayo.

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