A parking ticket on a car windscreen

No more parking tickets on St Patrick's Day under Stormont plans

SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

PARKING tickets will no longer be issued on St Patrick's Day under Stormont plans, bringing it into line with other holidays such as the Twelfth.

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon plans to add St Patrick's Day to the list of 'non-charge' days when parking restrictions are annually not enforced.

She said it could potentially be construed as "discriminatory" if such parking charges were to continue on the March holiday.

The change comes after the issue was raised by SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan.

He wrote to the minister after it was brought to his attention that parking attendants were not operating on July 12 but were on duty over St Patrick's Day.

"I'm delighted that infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon has agreed to my request to make parking free for future St Patrick's Day holidays," he said.

"To avoid potential claims of discrimination, I appealed to Minister Mallon to ensure parking restrictions on future St Patrick's Day public holidays would be applied in the same manner as the July public holiday.

"I'm grateful for her speedy response and albeit a comparatively small issue in the current context, it is a welcome and positive outcome nonetheless."

Parking wardens working for the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) are responsible for the enforcement of restrictions for on-street parking and council car parks.

A parking ticket costs £90, or £45 if paid within a fortnight.

Various parking enforcement measures had been suspended during the Coronavirus lockdown, but have since resumed.

Ms Mallon said the days for parking enforcement are prescribed in legislation and her department's approach originated from 1987.

Five non-charging days were specified in parking byelaws: Easter Monday; July 12 and 13 (or days in lieu); and December 25 and 26 (or days in lieu). New Years Day (or a day in lieu) has also become a non-charging day over the years, although this is not in legislation.

In her letter to Mr Durkan, the minister said she understood the view that excluding St Patrick's Day could be construed as "acting in a discriminatory nature".

"However, now that this matter has been brought to my attention and having given the issues due consideration, I can confirm I have asked my officials to put in place the necessary steps to include the public holiday of St Patrick's Day in the list of non-charge days in the appropriate legislation," she said.

The SDLP North Belfast MLA added: "It should be noted that on St Patrick's Day drivers will still be expected to park with due consideration for other road users and pedestrians and comply with the parking restrictions in relation to yellow lines, controlled crossings, bus stops and disabled bays for example, which will still apply."