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Drink Driving – The Facts

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Archive for December, 2016

We can take on world’s best and win – a look back on an incredible year for Irish sport as tourism to hit record high

Shane Ross | 26/12/2016 | The Sun |

‘We may be a small island nation, but we have proven we can take on global giants in whatever sport we put our minds to’.

WHAT a year to be an Irish sports fan.

Our rugby team beat the trio of giants from the Southern Hemisphere — Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

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The country — north and south — came together to launch a serious bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. In 2017, we will host the Women’s Rugby World Cup at stadia all over Ireland. Meanwhile in soccer, Martin O’Neill’s boys won the match that propelled us to the top of our group in Austria last month — and makes qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia all the more likely. We are set to host four matches during Euro 2020.

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Our Olympians and Paralympians inspired millions with their dedication and commitment to their disciplines at the Rio Games and our elite ¬golfers continue to command the world stage. Today is one of the most famous horseracing days of the year when many of us will be heading to Leopardstown or Limerick for a flutter.

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We’re known to be experts in all things equine so it’s hardly surprising that the horse industry — sporting and breeding — contributes more than €1.1billion annually to the economy. We may be a small island nation, but we have proven we can take on global giants in whatever sport we put our minds to. I’d like to thank all who contribute so much to the success of our sports industry professionally, but particularly those volunteers and amateurs whose sporting and coaching commitments to their communities are truly priceless. Simultaneously, 2016 is set to be the best year ever for overseas tourism to Ireland — surpassing all previous records.

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The latest CSO figures confirm over 8.9 million people visited in the first 11 months of 2016. That is an amazing 11 per cent increase by the end of November — and rising. To say this is an exciting time to be Minister of both the Sport and Tourism portfolios is an understatement. Last week I was delighted to announce that €30million is being made available under the Sports Capital Programme to develop sports infrastructure around the country. This programme has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland with improvements in virtually every village, town and city. I’d strongly urge all sports and community organisations with a suitable project to make an application. Sports tourism used to be a niche market but it’s now a major part of our economic and social infrastructure. And why not combine our country’s love of sport and our warm welcome for visitors with economic benefits? It is a win-win for all involved.

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At last month’s Global Sports Tourism Awards in London, Ireland was shortlisted in no fewer than eight out of nine categories. The opportunities presented by sports tourism are boundless and the figures involved staggering. Currently, the global sports tourism industry is worth a cool €450bn. Each year, for example, 150,000-plus golfers come here to play on our golf courses, adding about €200m to the economy. Conservative estimates of what hosting the Rugby World Cup would add to Irish coffers are in the region of €8bn. Whether it’s to celebrate a win or drown sorrows, sports tourists tend to spend double the amount regular tourists do, so this is a huge opportunity for us to capitalise upon — locally and nationally.
• APPLY for sports grants at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie

https://www.thesun.ie/news/353030/we-can-take-on-worlds-best-and-win-a-look-back-on-an-incredible-year-for-irish-sport-as-tourism-to-hit-record-high/

 

Press Release: €30M Grants Scheme for Improved Sports Facilities and Equipment

21/12/2016 | Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’ Donovan T.D., announced today that €30m is being made available under the Sports Capital Programme to develop sports infrastructure around the country.

shane-ross

In this regard, online applications will be accepted from the 23rd January to the 24th February, 2017. Clubs not previously registered on the Department’s online application system need to do so in advance of this date and the Ministers encouraged clubs to register now. The guide to making an application was also published on the Department’s Sports Capital Programme website today ( www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie ).

Minister Ross stated “I am delighted that this funding is being made available. The Sports Capital Programme aims to foster an integrated and planned approach to developing sport and recreation facilities and it has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland with improvements in the quality and quantity of sporting facilities in virtually every village, town and city in the country. The new €30 million programme provides an opportunity for further improvements and I would urge all organisations with a suitable project to consider making an application”.

The Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan highlighted some of the changes to the terms of the new programme. “The Programme for Government contains the aim of allocating sports capital grants on an annual basis and since being given responsibility for sport, I have been struck by the huge level of interest in the Sports Capital Programme across so many different sporting disciplines. I was determined to make the application process as simple as possible and in this regard we have significantly shortened the application form, issued new guides for completing the form and my Department is also arranging a series of regional workshops in the new year to assist applicants. The upcoming holiday period provides a good opportunity for clubs to get registered on www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie, familiarise themselves with the guide and undertake any other preparatory work in advance of formally submitting their application”.

Clubs who wish to register on the Department’s online system can do so now at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie. Once registered, all applications must be made on the same website. The system will be open for applications from the 23rd January. A guide to making an application and a link to YouTube video instructions is also available on the website.

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Press Release: Road Traffic Bill 2016 passes

20/12/2016 | Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD today welcomed the passing of the Road Traffic Bill 2016 by the Oireachtas.

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The Bill contains a series of reforms dealing with drug driving; written off vehicles; mutual recognition of driver disqualifications between Ireland and the UK; uninsured drivers; and a new optional 20km/h speed limit in built-up areas among other measures.

The main provisions outlined in the Bill are detailed below:

Drug Driving

An Garda Síochána have been given new powers to test drivers for drugs at the roadside. Current provisions for Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT) checkpoints will be extended to provide for Mandatory Intoxication Testing (MIT) checkpoints testing drivers for both alcohol and drugs.

Under the new measures, Gardaí can ask drivers to undergo a preliminary drug test for cannabis, cocaine, a range of opiates (including heroin and morphine) and a range of benzodiazepines (including diazepam and flurazepam).

Speaking after the passing of the Bill Minister Ross said: “The new powers given to the Gardaí to test for drugs at the roadside will allow them to test for a wide range of drugs which could not be previously tested for. These represent 95% of all drugs found by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety in samples sent to it for confirmatory testing in 2015.”

Minister Ross added that; “drivers taking opiates and benzodiazepines prescribed by their doctors, [who are taking these prescribed drugs in accordance with their prescriptions, and are not impaired], have nothing to fear from the new measures. However, drivers abusing drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, benzodiazepines and opiate and driving while impaired will face a minimum disqualification of 4 years for their first offence and 6 years for their second and subsequent offence.”

A new offence of driving/being in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle with the presence of three illicit drugs (Cannabis, Cocaine, and Heroin) has also been introduced. This means that for the first time drivers found above new legal thresholds for these drugs will commit an offence without An Garda Síochána having to prove impairment as is currently the case under existing legislation.

In seeking to address concerns of those prescribed Sativex (which contains cannabis) for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, the Minister introduced in the Bill a medical exemption certificate for those prescribed with Sativex so that they do not fall under the new offence. This will ensure that they cannot be arrested for driving with cannabis in their system. He warned however, that if such drivers are impaired, they face the same sanctions as other drivers under existing drug driving legislation.

Written-off vehicles

The Minister said that; “In addition to current legislation on defective vehicles, the provisions in this Bill change the current arrangements between the insurance industry and my Department in relation to domestic write-offs from ‘voluntary’ to ‘statutory’. All insurers will be statutorily required to notify my Department of category A (irreparable and fit for scrap only) and category B (useful for viable spare parts only) write-offs so that these vehicles’ records can be locked down on the National Vehicle and Driver File and their circulation prevented.”

Mutual Recognition of Driving Disqualifications with the UK

The Bill will give effect to an agreement with the UK on mutual recognition of driver disqualifications which was signed in October 2015. If a driver is disqualified in the UK they are automatically barred from driving abroad, as they do not have a valid licence. However, if a driver from the UK is disqualified from driving in Ireland, the ban applies only in Ireland, the country that imposed it. The person could still drive in UK or anywhere else. The Minister commented that; “The provisions to back up the new agreement on mutual recognition of driver disqualification between ourselves and the UK will ensure that dangerous drivers who are a risk to the public are kept off the roads in both jurisdictions.”

20km/h Speed Limit

The Bill creates a new option for local authorities to impose a special speed limit of 20km/h in built-up areas. This will be in addition to the existing possible speed limits for built-up areas of 50km/h, 40km/h and 30km/h. The Minister added that; “the new speed limit option has been introduced following the Jake’s Legacy campaign. This was set up following the tragic death of six year old Jake Brennan who was killed in a road traffic incident in the housing estate where he lived. A new special speed limit of 20km/hour is now being made available for local authorities to impose where they see fit.”

Uninsured drivers

The increasing number of uninsured drivers is a huge concern and one of the issues identified to tackle this problem has been the Garda Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system which is reliant on information provided by the insurance industry in respect of insured drivers. While this data set has proven to be unreliable to date, the Bill provides for detailed information that the insurance industry must now provide which will address this exact issue.

The Minister said that; “This is a very vital provision which will allow for the establishment of the Insured and Uninsured Database by Insurance Ireland and MIBI which will provide reliable data to An Garda Síochána to enable them to detect uninsured drivers and take them off our roads.”

Measures to ensure that drivers convicted in court have penalty points endorsed on their driver record

The Bill provides for a new requirement for the presiding judge to ask a driver convicted in court for a driving offence to produce their licence to the court. The court will then record the licence details, or the fact that it was not produced with failure to produce a licence an offence. Speaking today, the Minister said; “This new provision addresses a significant loophole in our legislation whereby some drivers were escaping having their penalty points recorded on their licences following conviction in court.”

In conclusion, the Minister commented that; “the Road Traffic Bill 2016 is a major step forward in many areas – the fight against drug driving in particular. Its other provisions will also improve our laws and help to keep all of our citizens safer on the roads, and to keep dangerous drivers off them. I look forward to the signing of this Bill into law, and I am looking forward to implementing its provisions as soon as possible.”

Unaccompanied learner drivers

We know, unfortunately, that there is a real and continuing problem with learner drivers who persist in driving unaccompanied on our roads despite this being illegal. The question of responsibility regarding owners who knowingly allow learners to drive their cars unaccompanied has been highlighted by the family of Geraldine and Louise Clancy, who were tragically killed in an incident for which an unaccompanied learner driver was found responsible. Speaking today, the Minister said “I was pleased to be able to work with my parliamentary colleagues on this extremely important Bill, and to include an amendment proposed by Deputy Imelda Munster TD, with regard to unaccompanied learner drivers. Learners who drive unaccompanied are committing an offence, and I think it is reasonable to see people who knowingly facilitate this offence as sharing a responsibility for it.”

The Minister added that he “will engage with the Office of the Attorney General as quickly as possible in the new year to ensure that this provision is sufficiently robust for early commencement and enforcement.”

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Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
01 604 1090 / 01 604 1093
www.dttas.ie | (Enable Javascript to see the email address)

Initial Publication Date:
20/12/2016

Hell hath no fury like a Justice scorned

Hell hath no fury like a Justice scorned | Shane Ross | Irish Times | 07/12/16 |

 It is important, as the chief justice has said, that politicians and judges “owe respect to the other”.

And so we should. A prerequisite for such respect is that the method of judicial appointments is transparent and democratic. Currently, it is not.

My Independent Alliance colleagues and I inserted a few paragraphs in the Programme for Government insisting on long overdue reforms in the selection and scrutiny of our judges.

The judges have greeted the proposals with thunder in their voices.

The dogs in the street know that party -political loyalties have played a shameful part in the selection of Judges in Ireland. Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour barristers have often been forced to wait for regime change until they were elevated to the bench.

I have campaigned for reform of this flawed system for years. I wrote chapters in books on it. I even suggested that interviews might be held for the first time ever. Being recently privileged with a place in the cabinet seemed a pretty good perch from which to implement the changes. Fine Gael agreed to them. At long last it seems that the appointment of judges is to be taken out of the political arena.

And it is. Even Fianna Fail has agreed that the good old days of governments appointing party pals to the bench are over.

A new Bill hit the Dail a few weeks ago, largely removing the selection of judges from the political arena.

The Bill was proposed by a Fianna Fail barrister, Jim O’ Callaghan. It was warmly welcomed in the Dail by all sides, as it tackled the cancer of political patronage. A few other barrister TDs, besides Jim, joined Frances Fitzgerald and me in our initial welcome of the breakthrough.

The Bill was far from perfect. While it largely removed political leverage, it gave someone else– legal eagles– a majority on the new commission selecting judges. The old system, a board that sent up a long, long list of likely names to the minister for justice, would end. Under Jim’s Bill the judiciary and their legal friends would control the choice. Political patrons would be replaced by legal insiders.

Ireland’s judges will not have been displeased by what they call “Jim’s Bill”. Yet the prospect of legal eagles in control of the appointment of judges runs directly contrary to the Programme for Government’s commitment. We welcome judges and lawyers on the selection board, but not in control. The Independent Alliance agreed to an independent layperson in the chair, flanked by a majority of lay people advised by judges and lawyers, offering their expertise. The chief Justice would be welcome among their number. While all the lawyers would be full members, the legal profession’s iron grip would be loosened. We do not want to see judges on the inside appointing their chosen ones. What sort of replacement would that be for political cronyism? And, acknowledging an omission in the programme for government, I proposed that Judges should be legally obliged to declare all their financial and other interests. Just like TDs.

Perhaps prompted by some rather colourful rhetoric from me and by Fianna Fail support in the form of Jim’s Bill, Ireland’s lawyers took to the media. Two weeks ago the chief justice broke cover. The newspapers responded with massive coverage. I came under sustained attack. Journalist Colm Keena chastised me for alleged “inaccuracies.” Keena himself, without checking with me, put his name to an article claiming that I had insisted on attending a meeting with the judges “having learned of the meeting”. Keena was not “inaccurate.” He was wrong.

The powerful law lobby moved into full gear. The number of lawyers offered space to defend their patches was staggering. The Irish Times led the field in giving openings to this privileged group. Ten days ago the chairman of the Bar Council Paul McGarry penned a piece entitled “Criticism a threat to independence of the Judiciary”. On Friday columnist Noel Whelan headed his column “Ross’s fixation on judges is mere political posturing”. OK, but perhaps Whelan’s eagerness proves a transparency point. In his hard hitting piece , addressing the Independent Alliance ( whom he dislikes) and the legal eagles (his colleagues) he fails to reveal not one , but two , missing declarations of interests. Readers might be surprised to know that Whelan is a former Dail and Seanad candidate for Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail. Nor does he mention that he is a senior counsel. His political comments echo those of Jim O’Callaghan, the Fianna Fail barrister in the Dail. His column serves both Fianna Fail and the legal eagles well. Pity he didn’t declare his interests.

Such transparency does not fit well with the traditions of the Law Library where Noel does his day job.. No doubt Noel does not nurse any ambitions to hit the bench? He would undoubtedly have told us.

He maintains that in the present controversy it is politics, not the appointments system, that are the issue. He is wrong. The judges and the lawyers, like Noel, are the issue. Nor is it just the appointments, it is the near- impossibility of removing a bad judge, that must be resolved in coming legislation.

Judges are good at fighting rearguard actions. Their opposition to a cut in their pay in the 2009 referendum was not their finest hour. Nor do they like being challenged. Most of them are good people, doing an honest job. Following the chief justice’s foray into the public arena, the president of the Circuit Court Raymond Groarke hit the headlines. In an intemperate response to the prospect of a shortage of judges, he declared that if the government did not give him judges he would not be able to “obey their legislative strictures”. I am sure the judge did not intend to imply that he was willing to break the law. In response to Judge Groarke– and to ensure that we do not obstruct the needs of justice- the government has agreed to appoint new judges, albeit under the old flawed system.

Judge Groarke, might in turn, listen to the chief justice’s words of the need for “respect for the other”. Let alone for the law of the land.

Unedited version of article published in the Irish Times 07/12/2016

 

 

Press Release: 2016 Christmas & New Year Anti Drink Driving Campaign

Stark and devastating detail in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad from the RSA released today.

| December 1st 2016 | 

Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Shane Ross TD has praised the parents of a little boy – killed by a drunk driver – for their bravery and generosity in leading the Christmas and New Year campaign against drink driving.

In an emotional and hard-hitting speech, Minister Ross saluted Gillian and Ronan Treacy, who lost their four-year-old son Ciaran in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in 2014.

Crashed Lives

The story of Gillian and Ronan – together with the Emergency Services who attended the scene of the collision and the medical team who fought to save Ciaran’s life while his mother was treated for horrific injuries – is told in stark and devastating detail in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad from the RSA released today.

Minister Ross said:

“I just say ‘we salute you.’ It’s a fantastically brave and courageous thing to have done for everybody in the country and I have no doubt that you will save lives by what you’ve done today – by allowing this film to be made.”

At the event, which was also attended by the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and RSA Chairwoman Liz O’Donnell, Minister Ross said;

“Today we are here to try, with Gillian and Ronan’s help, to ensure that it [this tragedy] doesn’t happen again and that’s what this campaign is all about. I don’t think we can dismiss road deaths as ‘somebody else’s’ problem. Our message here today is that it is all our problem. It’s not just that we shouldn’t be drinking and driving ourselves but that we have a public duty in our daily lives to discourage other people from doing it. Drink driving kills, maims and shatters lives.”

“We did think that drinking and driving had become socially unacceptable, that it was a generational thing, only acceptable in the 80’s and 90’s and that it had ended.

This is not true. The reality is that it is a serious problem. And it has either dipped and is now resurrected, or it actually never went away. That is something that we, as legislators, and the Road Safety Authority and everybody in their daily lives have got to recognise and say, ‘we need to renew our crusade to stop people drinking and driving’.”

Minister Ross noted that road deaths this year are up by 20% and said that this is “completely and utterly unacceptable”.

He added, “I think this might indicate to us a more serious message – that while campaigns have been successful in their own way, that they are not enough – that we in government and in joint ventures and crusades with the RSA should look at other ways to combat this, as well as work in tandem.”

“The figures show the quite devastating reality that in 38% of fatal accidents alcohol played a part – alcohol was there, was consumed. Those figures come from 2012 and I’m told by those who work in the area that anecdotally things have gotten much worse since then. So this is urgent and it’s not anything we can claim to have beaten in any way. The trend is upwards and we have to do something about it.”

Minister Ross added that the Road Traffic Bill went through committee stage yesterday and should be passed before Christmas.

“This has some pretty sensible laws to combat drug driving, speed driving in housing estates and more efficient court procedures, “ he said.

“I think we have to recognise that we’re going to have to take some hard decisions in order to stop this curse which is taking away lives – young and old – and causing so many tragedies. I have been working with the Tánaiste in other forums and we will be absolutely determined to – if not remove – then reduce this scourge.

And the part played by Gillian and Ronan here today in doing that is something to which I think we should all pay tribute.”

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