Page last updated at 20:53 GMT, Monday, 31 January 2011

Private member's bill

The second stage of a private member's bill to make the wearing of cycle helmets compulsory was passed by the assembly despite opposition from members of three of the main parties, on 31 January 2011.

The sponsor of the Cyclists (Protective Headgear) Bill, Pat Ramsey of the SDLP told the assembly that 422 children and 213 adults in Northern Ireland had been admitted to hospital with cycling head injuries over five years.

Mr Ramsey said he was bringing the second stage of the bill to the house because families affected by accidents had asked him to do so.

He referred to a British Medical Association claim that the use of properly fitted helmets reduces the risk of head injury by 65-88%

The bill would require people of all ages to wear protective headgear when cycling and would impose a £50 fine on those not wearing a helmet.

Environment committee chairperson Cathal Boylan said the committee had not considered the current bill but in previous discussions had decided that the wearing of helmets should be strongly recommended but not made compulsory.

Danny Kinahan of the UUP also opposed the bill as he believed more time was needed to discuss it.

Trevor Lunn said the Alliance Party were split on the bill but he felt the best way to proceed was to discuss it after the assembly elections.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots felt the bill was "well-intentioned" but disagreed that legislation was necessary, or appropriate, in this area.

He said his real worry was that forcing people to wear a helmet would lead to a reduction in the number of people cycling.

The second stage was passed by 20 votes to 18.

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