23 January 2018
By Bryan Smyth
Cork North West TD, Michael Moynihan has said that the Oireachtas must look at his party’s proposed Committee State Amendments to the Road Traffic Bill and should accept its recommendation to increase the number of penalty points awarded for drink driving rather than the proposed automatic disqualification.
Deputy Moynihan was commenting as the Dáil prepares to debate the bill at Committee State in the coming weeks.
“At present, a driver is given three penalty points if he or she is caught driving with between 50 and 80mg alcohol per 100ml. Fianna Fáil believes that increasing penalty points is a fairer, yet appropriate penalty to Minister Shane Ross’ proposal of automatic disqualification from driving.
“The 2nd Stage debate before Christmas heard speaker after speaker from rural Ireland talk about the need to understand that the same transport services are not available in areas such as North Cork that are available in south Dublin.
“The Minister’s current proposals are just not practical or feasible. It’s unfair on people in rural Ireland for whom the local pub is the only local social venue.
“Yes, we need to stamp our dangerous driving, but an automatic disqualification is a step too far, and will cause serious hardship for people right across rural Ireland.
“It should be noted that it is already illegal to drink and drive in Ireland, and none of the Fianna Fáil proposals would change this.
“There are no DARTs, taxis, buses or LUAS’ in County Tipperary. If people decide to go to the pub for a pint on Sunday evening to play a game of cards, they have no option but to take their car.
“Drink driving can never be condoned and much greater effort needs to go into implementing the existing laws.
“Fianna Fáil has a strong and proud record on reducing road deaths. We want to increase penalties for those driving with greater than 100mg alcohol in their blood. 8 in 10 road deaths are caused by this cohort of drivers, not by those who go for one or two pints in the evening.
“Minister Ross would be far better off focusing on implementing existing legislation rather than attempting to introduce draconian changes such as he has put forward.
“The Minister must get real, and change his proposals. He needs to work with the Minister for Community to develop better rural transport schemes to ensure that people don’t need to use their car to get to the local pub,” concluded Moynihan.