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Micheal Healy Rae: 'The government should leave our young drivers alone'

I think it would be more in the government’s line to catch criminals who are breaking into elderly people’s homes and jail them, writes Michael Healy Rae.

Michael Healy Rae Independent TD for Kerry

THE GOVERNMENT’S PROPOSAL at last week’s cabinet meeting with regard to young drivers is a cause of major upset all over the country.

I raised this issue in the Dáil on Wednesday. I told the Taoiseach that it was an outrageous attack on young respectable drivers who are struggling, trying to go to school or college or maybe get to their part-time job.

To criminalise these young people in the way the government is proposing is outrageous and a scandal.

Prosecuting car owners

The government is introducing a new proposal to prosecute car owners who permit learner drivers to use vehicles unaccompanied.

As the proposal stands, unaccompanied learner drivers face two penalty points and a fixed fine, but car owners who give their vehicle to an unaccompanied learner driver could face prosecution under new laws. This is an outrageous attack and something that we all have to fight against.

To summarise what the government has actually said is that they would like to bring in legislation to criminalise and possibly jail the owners of vehicles who are found to be driven by unaccompanied young drivers. Please note, this decision was made on the day that the train were not running due to strikes.

So this decision has upset many people all over the country.

An outrageous attack

I stated to the Taoiseach that this was an outrageous attack on young respectable drivers who are struggling, trying to get to school, college or part-time work. These young people are doing their best trying to better themselves and this proposed amendment to the Road Traffic Bill is most unwelcome.

This proposal will mainly hurt the people who don’t have a public transport facility in their area. This means that it concerns and affects most of rural Ireland. They don’t have any other option other than using their mother or father’s car to get around. In my opinion these young people are doing their best in a situation that isn’t ideal.

I think the Taoiseach’s point about how many young driver have been killed on the roads was significant, but that does not mean that these accidents would have been prevented if these young drivers were driving with a full license, or if they had been accompanied by an adult.

This decision has to take into account all those other young drivers who do not have any other access to transportation to get to school or work. This proposal is also targeting more the young drivers in rural Ireland than young drivers in urban areas like Dublin.

More in government’s line to catch criminals

What the government has actually said is that they want to bring in legislation to criminalise and possibly jail the owners of vehicles who are found to be driven by unaccompanied young drivers.

I think it would be more in the government’s line to catch criminals who are breaking into elderly people’s homes and jail them, and leave our young drivers alone. I think to criminalise these young people in the way the government is proposing is not right.

I think more analysis should be done and more data should be taken throughout the entire country so we can get accurate numbers for this situation.

This was an out of the blue decision that will hurt many young, ordinary, reliable drivers and their families who would like to see their children succeed in this world. If succeeding means that they have to drive a vehicle in order to get to work to earn money to fund their college education, than we should not criminalise such an act.

Michael Healy Rae is an Independent TD for Kerry.

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About the author:

Michael Healy Rae  / Independent TD for Kerry

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