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Mother of drunk driving victim campaigns for 'Brendan's Law'

Christina Donnelly said her 24-year-old son had a “heart of gold” and was “desperately missed”.
May 5th 2012, 1:04 PM 6,743 34

THE MOTHER OF a 24-year-old man killed by a drunk driver has spoken about her campaign for a change to the law, saying it could help prevent more deaths.

Brendan Donnelly died in October 2009 along with his friend Lee Salkeld, 26, when the car they were travelling in was hit by another vehicle driven by Anthony Long, 29.

Long was found guilty of dangerous driving causing their deaths. The court heard that he had drunk as many as 20 beers, vodka and Aftershocks and had snorted a line of cocaine before the accident, RTÉ reported at the time.

Brendan’s mother Christina said she “could not comprehend” the news when she heard her son had been killed. “I couldn’t take in those words, that my son was dead,” she said.

She said he was a “wonderful, wonderful son” with a “heart of gold” who was now “so, so desperately missed”.

Christina is now campaigning for ‘Brendan’s Law’, under which drivers who are involved in a fatal accident and subsequently fail a breath test would have their licences automatically suspended until their court appearance.

She told Claire Byrne on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane Show that there was currently a “loophole in the law”.

It just does not make sense to think, as a bereaved parent, that someone who has been found to be over the limit could leave the garda station and be back on the road.

Donnelly continued: “Allowing someone to resume driving after being charged with a fatality and with being over the limit, to me is like handing someone a loaded shotgun.”

Campaigners are also calling for a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 to 9 years for such offences, and a subsequent automatic 25-year disqualification without appeal.

The Brendan’s Law Facebook page has so far attracted more than 2,400 likes. Representatives met the RSA last week, and Kerry Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly has also lent his support.

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Michael Freeman

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