INDEPENDENT TD MICHAEL Healy Rae has once again made controversial comments about drink driving, indicating that he believes garda checkpoints are more useful to deter crime than prevent road deaths.
In the past Healy Rae has called for drink driving permits to be given out in rural areas.
Speaking to Newstalk reporter Richard Chambers, Healy Rae said: “We’ve lost an awful lot of our rural pubs and what has happened is actually wrong because these pubs were providing a great service.
“They were a place in the community where people could come together, play a game of cards, have a bit of enjoyment and have a drink or two.
“When they really got strict on the drink driving laws, there should have been a common sense approach in rural areas whereby people could go out have a glass or two of beer and go away home. There was nothing wrong with it.”
When questioned about whether his view could be seen as irresponsible, he said:
No … if a person goes out and has a little drink, they were hurting no one, they weren’t causing accidents, they weren’t killing people.
A spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority told TheJournal.ie, “Any amount of alcohol impairs driving. This is not an opinion, it’s scientific fact.
“Drinking and driving is now viewed by the vast majority of people in this country as anti-social behaviour.”
However Healy Rae added, “There’s an awful lot of reasons why people are surviving accidents … our cars are improving all the time. When a car is involved in an accident, thankfully modern technology is ensuring people have a better capacity and capability of surviving an accident, you can’t go saying it’s all about drink.”
When then asked if gardaí are just wasting their time breathalysing drivers, he said:
Checkpoints on the roads are a great deterrent to thieves wandering around looking to break into houses. They’re a visible deterrent in the countryside to illegal activity.
The RSA spokesperson added, “We support the enforcement of the laws by the Gardai and this has helped in reducing road fatalities.”