Almost 650 drivers in Cork County have been caught parking in disabled bays, despite being able-bodied.
New figures seen by the East Cork Journal show that, since 2017, a total of 647 parking fines have been issued by the Authority’s Traffic Wardens.
County Director of Municipal Districts and Rural Development, Niall Healy, said the numbers could be even higher as data for the town of Skibbereen was unavailable.
The report shows overall figures for the County but is not broken down by Municipal District.
2018 was the worst year for fines in the three year period, seeing an 8% increase on the previous year.
Since January of this year 189 motorists have been caught without displaying a Blue badge, 238 drivers were fined in 2018, with a further 220 fines issued in 2017.
Drivers can be given a fixed penalty notice of €150 for misusing a disabled parking space, with 28 days to pay. If unpaid in that timeframe, the fine increases to €225 with a further 28 days to pay.
Both Traffic Wardens and the Gardaí may issue these fines.
There is an estimated 20,000 people in Cork County with a disability.
Liz Maddox from the Castlemartyr Family Carers and Disability Group said it would be beneficial to see the number of fines broken down by Municipal District.
She said “few issues irritate people in the disability community as much as illegal parking in disability parking bays, and fraudulent permit use.”
The East Cork advocate for disability rights added “a lot more needs to be done to make towns and villages more accessible, if Ireland is to take its obligation under the Barcelona Declaration seriously.”
Ms Maddox went on to say the disabled parking permit should be broadened.
“Disability is no longer just about wheelchair users, and the criteria should be extended out to benefit those with an intellectual disability” she said.