Council split over ‘smoking’ case

MOYLE councillors have split over whether legal action should be taken against a person alleged to have smoked in a work vehicle - a taxi - and also to have dropped litter.

The Council was told that on April 5 this year a man was allegedly identified smoking in a taxi at Mary Street, Ballycastle, by a Council worker and the same man was allegedly spotted dropping litter on the same date.

Councillors were told an opportunity was given to pay fixed penalties for the alleged offences but they were not paid.

Cllr Randal McDonnell (Independent) said the Council should not be “high handed” in sending such cases to court to “clutter” the legal system up and he referred to such cases as “this type of rubbish”.

He said the Council should send the alleged culprit a “cheeky letter” telling him not to do it again instead of somebody being brought to court and ending up with a “criminal record”.

Independent councillor Seamus Blaney said many people now smoke cigarettes without nicotine and proof may be needed that it is actually real cigarette smoke.

Council Chief Executive Richard Lewis said the Council has prosecuted such cases before and said they have to be consistent.

Council Chairperson, Cllr Padraig McShane (Independent), said it was the “duty” of Council to reinforce laws.

Cllr Joan Baird (Ulster Unionist) said it was “ridiculous” for the Council to follow up on somebody allegedly throwing out a cigarette butt when she said there were litter issues at Ballintoy Harbour regarding “plastic fish” being left in the water following the recent filming of scenes for the next series of ‘Game of Thrones’.

Eight councillors voted for legal action to be taken in the taxi ‘smoking’ case and six councillors voted against.