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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019

'Two pints was their only social outlet': Healy Rae says mass goers are being disrupted by Garda checkpoints

The Taoiseach said he would not apologise for an increase in Garda checkpoints around the country.


KERRY TD DANNY Healy Rae has said people in rural Ireland are being disrupted on the way to mass by garda checkpoints. 

The independent TD criticised the Road Traffic Amendment Bill, which Healy Rae was accused of filibustering during the summer, and for the imposition of stricter penalties on drink drivers. 

The controversial legislation was delayed in the Dáil for over a year passed all stages in the Dáil in July. At the time of its passing, Healy-Rae shouted in the Dáil chamber: “This is sad day for rural Ireland.”

Speaking in the Dáil today, he asked where the extra LocalLink bus services that were promised during the passage of the Bill were.

He also asked who was ordering checkpoints when people are travelling to Mass.

He [Minister Shane Ross] has closed almost everything else, so I will not be surprised if he wants to close the churches of rural Ireland as well. Many people are very angry and upset about what has happened.
They feel that they have been let down and that they cannot move. They are isolated. Bars are empty, and are closing on a regular basis. Shops and restaurants beside them are also closing. Two pints was the only social outlet for many people. They met in pubs to talk about farming, work or football, to inquire about the health of neighbours or relatives that perhaps lived far away, or to have an ordinary, usual conversation.
The culture of the rural people is being blown to smithereens at the behest of the government in its quest to satisfy the Minister, Deputy Ross.

Healy Rae questioned if the Taoiseach was ordering the checkpoints, stating that it appeared to be “coming from the top”.

“People are checked going to mass and coming from mass. I am not blaming An Garda Síochána or individual superintendents because it is occurring across different divisions and across county boundaries. Does the Minister, Deputy Ross, want to close the churches now as well as the post offices?” asked the Kerry TD.

In his response, the Taoiseach said he would not apologise for the presence of Garda checkpoints in rural Ireland, and said he was pleased to hear there appears to be an increase in their numbers. 

He denied that checkpoints are never in urban areas because they would cause too much traffic buildup, which Healy Rae suggested. 

Leo Varadkar said he was stopped at a checkpoint near St James’s Gate recently.

He said the majority of the public want to see an increase in the presence of gardaí on the streets and checkpoints, stating that it disrupts criminality. 

Speaking about the new drink driving laws, he said the new laws will save lives. 

Varadkar told Healy Rae that they had both met with families who had lost love ones in road traffic accidents, and said the new law will go some way in decreasing road deaths. 

“Thankfully road deaths have gone down. That is due to myriad factors, such as speed cameras and better roads,” said Healy Rae.

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