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'Filibustering is parliamentary vandalism': Ross says TDs against drink-driving laws are not representing rural Ireland

As the controversial legislation passed in the Dáil last week, TD Danny Healy-Rae shouted: “This is sad day for rural Ireland.”

TDs Danny and Michael Healy-Rae
TDs Danny and Michael Healy-Rae
Image: Oireachtas TV

TRANSPORT MINISTER SHANE Ross has said the rural TDs that opposed to his Road Traffic Amendment Bill are not representing the views of rural Ireland.

The controversial legislation that has been delayed in the Dáil for over a year passed all stages in the Dáil last Friday.

As the result was announced in the House, there was applause by members, while Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae shouted: “This is sad day for rural Ireland.”

Speaking about the legislation today at the launch of the Road Safety Authority’s latest report, Ross slammed rural TDs, such as Independent Kerry TDs Michael and Danny Healy-Rae and Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath, for filibustering the legislation.

Stricter penalties 

The Road Traffic Bill will impose stricter penalties on drink drivers.

Currently, anyone with a full license caught driving with an alcohol level between 50mg and 80mg is liable to three penalty points on their license and a €200 fine.

However, the Bill will see an automatic disqualification for drivers on their first offence of driving while over the permitted 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

The Bill will also make it an offence for car owners to allow a learner drive their car unaccompanied.

Highlighting the latest RSA figures, which show that 65% of all road fatalities this year occurred on rural roads, the minister said the TDs were not speaking on behalf of rural Ireland.

“There are more rural lives lost – they are not speaking for rural Ireland at all. I would like to see them talk to the mothers, fathers, children, and grandfathers of those that lost their lives and meet them because this [Bill] is saving rural lives,” said Ross.

‘Absurd tactics’ 

He accused the TDs of using “absurd tactics” and called on them to reflect on their position and certainly vow to never do anything like it again.

What they did was delay life-saving legislation for six months – that is a terrible thing and a cross to bear for the rest of their lives…
What happened in the last six months is certainly some fairly unforgivable parliamentary vandalism – it is difficult to comprehend.

He said there could be no excuse for delaying legislation that could save lives.

“I don’t see any excuse for it and I really do believe those that did this should reflect on what they’ve done and make sure they never repeat it.”

When asked about the about the TDs opposition to the drink-driving legislation, Chief Garda Superintendent Finbarr Murphy said leadership across politics, the judiciary and the community would be welcome.

What we are looking at here is changing culture and we need leadership when we want to change culture, so we need leadership from politicians, from the judiciary, from the gardaí, from sporting bodies right across the country.
This is a community effort to save lives and the biggest service we can do for the community is to stand up and say this is wrong and to challenge, be it family members, club members or other people you know who are behaving wrongly and drinking and driving.
It’s time to say, ‘this isn’t good enough, stop it’, and ‘we are not going to accept it’. And that is the leadership piece that is possibly missing in certain areas that we would welcome.

The minister said he hopes the Bill will pass in the Seanad before the summer recess this week.

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