Motorists who were caught speeding outside a primary school in Co Longford were given the option of facing a "kids' court" instead of receiving penalty points and a fine in a new initiative that has been hailed as a huge success.
The "Kids' Court" was set up in Stonepark National School outside Longford Town for an hour on Thursday morning, September 21, in a bid to change drivers' behavior around speeding.
The school, which is attended by 220 students, is located on a busy road with a speed limit of 50kmp/hr, with many people using the road to travel to and from Athlone in Co Westmeath, RTÉ News reports.
Drivers caught marginally breaking the speed limit on Thursday morning were given the option of receiving penalty points and a fine or facing the kids' court.
A driver who was significantly over the speed limit was not given the option of facing the court and received a fine and penalty points.
A total of four drivers who were caught marginally breaking the speed limit opted to face the kid's court, while others opted to receive penalty points and a fine.
The young judges asked motorists if they knew that their speeding could have killed students on their way to school.
Those who faced the court received a lesson on the dangers of speeding and were also questioned about their road safety knowledge.
Garda Superintendent Séamus Boyle told RTÉ News that he hopes the new initiative will help change the culture of speeding on Irish roads.
Speaking before the speed checks began, Boyle confirmed that only drivers who marginally broke the speed limit would receive the option of facing the court.
"Our discretion will only be used on the lower end of the scale in relation to speeding," Boyle said before the beginning of the speed checks.
"Enforcement is important but equally as important in the education piece and we would hope that the children will bring that message home to their parents and their siblings."
Gardaí say the kid's court is a simple yet effective project that is being run in conjunction with the Department of Justice's Community Safety Partnership, which is being piloted in three counties.
The Department of Justice scheme aims to encourage community participation and address anti-social behavior and criminality in a certain area.
The concept of a kid's court for speeding offenses was first introduced in the UK in 2016 and was subsequently rolled out in Northern Ireland, with Longford becoming the first county in Ireland to trial the initiative.
St Aloysius Primary School in Lisburn, Co Antrim ran the program in 2017:
Micheál O'Sullivan, principal of Stonepark National School, described the new kid's court initiative as "impactful and powerful."
"I think the strength of this morning was that people gave their consent to come before the kids and then to hear the kids' message," O'Sullivan told RTÉ News.
"They have taught some people a lesson today and you could see the humility with which the people took their punishment if you like, which was a caution at the end of the day.
"It's a powerful thing - the voice of children and I think that came across very much in the court cases if you like."