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    ‘It’s an insult to my little boy’: Families who lost loved ones to drunk-drivers slam politicians opposing new law

    17/07/2017 | TheJournal.ie | Following a meeting with the RSA and road traffic victim support groups today, Shane Ross published his new drink-driving bill.

    Following a meeting with the RSA and road traffic victim support groups today, Shane Ross published his new drink-driving bill.

    “It’s an insult to my little boy.”

    THE MOTHER of a four-year-old boy killed by a drunk driver in Co Laois has said opposition by some politicians to the new drink-driving Bill is “an insult” to her son.
    Gillian and Ronan Treacy’s son, Ciarán, was killed by drunk-driver Finbarr O’Rourke on the afternoon of Thursday, 17 April 2014. O’Rourke had consumed up to 10 pints of cider. The Treacys were the faces of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) Christmas campaign last year, which urged people not to drink and drive.

    Following a meeting with the Road Safety Authority and road traffic accident victim support groups today, Transport Minister Shane Ross published the Road Traffic Amendment Bill.
    It will see an automatic three-month suspension handed down to those caught with 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Currently those caught within that limit are given penalty points.

    A rural versus urban divide has emerged between some TDs and senators over the proposed new law, with some TDs saying it is unfair to those living in rural Ireland. Some critics have called the RSA figures into question, while others have said the focus needs to be on Garda enforcement, rather than a crackdown on drivers.

    Insulting

    “We opened our lives, our private lives 100% to the public, to just try and get the message across about the devastation that drink-driving can cause. It has been very effective, but it has also been a huge insult the last couple of weeks, to see the opposition to the Bill… it is an insult to my little boy, losing him, and my injuries, and all the other people who have lost people to drink-driving,” said Gillian.

    One of the Bill’s most vocal critics has been Kerry TD Danny Healy Rae. In May, the Independent TD said that eating a big meal can be as dangerous as drink driving.

    Last week he argued passionately that a driver who has consumed “two or three glasses” of beer represents no danger to the public, which resulted in clashing words between Healy Rae and families of those that had lost loved ones to road accidents.

    Ann Fogarty from PARC Road Safety Group, who lost her husband, Edmund, in a road accident, finds Healy Rae’s words extremely offensive.

    Anger at today’s meeting

    She said families who attended today’s meeting were very angry at the narrative that some politicians are pushing. “People were very angry in there today, because we feel that we are not being listened to and the lives of our relatives are not being valued,” said Fogarty.
    “Our lives out there and all of your lives out there are not being valued by those TDs who want to vote against this bill.”
    “I will not in anyway engage with Danny Healy Rae,” she said, adding that some TDs are afraid to debate the issue.

    ‘Get off the pitch’

    Publishing the bill this morning, the minister hit out against the vintner groups and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

    The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has accused the minister of trying to mislead the public – insisting that only 1.3% of road deaths involve people at the lower limit.

    Speaking about those opposing his Bill, Ross said:

    “I would call on the vintners who are opposing this Bill to get off the pitch.”

    “I call on Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil to support the Bill. I know his heart is in the right place on issues of this sort and I can’t understand why Micheál Martin, [Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson] Robert Troy and others are opposing the measure, which will undoubtedly save lives.”
    “So we are looking for their support and we will be campaigning for the support of many more.”

    Tax breaks for publicans

    In a bid to get ensure the new law proceeds through the Dáil, the minister said considerations are being given to the introduction of a tax break for publicans who agree to drive their customers home after a night out.
    This idea was first put forward by Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy during a committee debate on the issue at the beginning of the year.
    In an interview with TheJournal.ie, Ross said the government may look at giving supports to publicans to help get their customers home.
    He said all suggestions would be looked at, “but not if it is going to be very expensive”. Speaking on the matter today, Ross said all suggestions that could make it easier for people to get home at night would be considered.
    The minister said he has asked for a meeting to be set up between the Insurance Federation and the VFI to establish if such measures can be facilitated in some way. “If this eases the process of the Bill, which means lives are saved, fair enough, we will look at it. We are very happy to look at any constructive suggestions along those lines,” he added.
    Ross is pushing for a free vote on the Bill, but it is understood Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has demanded that ministers, junior ministers and super junior ministers support the Bill.

    A decision on whether Varadkar will impose the whip for other Fine Gael TDs will be decided at a parliamentary meeting in the autumn.

    by Christina Finn | TheJournal.ie |

    http://www.thejournal.ie/drink-driving-bill-3500492-Jul2017/

     

    Drink Driving – The Facts

    Shane Ross, T.D. | 05/04/2017 | The Irish Daily Mail |

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. It’s a basic maxim which used to be self-evident but increasingly is challenged by those who are taking free speech to ludicrous levels. Increasingly, there are people who believe that if they want something to be true – regardless of the facts –all they have to do is repeat it endlessly, to anyone and everyone who will listen. The untruth then gathers legs, through social media and then mainstream reputable until voila!

    The lie becomes an established fact.

    Which is why today, when I appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Transport, Tourism and Sport (for pre-legislative scrutiny of the Road Traffic (Fixed Penalty – Drink Driving) Bill 2017) there are many who insist that this measure will bring our current drink driving limits down to practically zero; that the odd glass of wine with lunch will now be outlawed and anyone taking cough medicine before getting into their car will be in danger of losing their driving licence.

    Rubbish.

    I’m blue in the face repeating myself here – but let me say once more for the hard of hearing that the new legislation will NOT change the current drink-driving blood-alcohol limit. Do I need to say that again? I think I do. There is NO CHANGE to current alcohol limits. Priests can still say Mass and use wine for the consecration, barmen can burp, Danny Healy-Rae can take his cough medicine and all of us can indulge in sherry trifle before getting behind the wheel of a car.

    What IS being changed is the PENALTY for drivers detected drink driving with blood/alcohol concentration (BAC) of 51mg to 80mg. Back in the day when the BAC limit was reduced to 50mg the same people who are screaming that my new Bill will shut down rural Ireland, successfully lobbied the then government to exclude first time drink-driving offenders from receiving an automatic disqualification. Currently they can just pay a fine,  cop three penalty points and get back into their cars. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order, a signal that we’re not really that serious about drink driving. This Bill will ensure that all those detected driving over the legal limit will receive a mandatory disqualification from driving.

    Changing this anomaly won’t, of course, end the horrific increase in road traffic fatalities we’ve witnessed over the past year. It’s not a magic wand. Drink driving is not the only problem in road safety.  There’s also speed, use of mobile phones, the reluctance to wear seat belts and, increasingly, driving under the influence of drugs. But alcohol is a factor in 38% of fatal crashes. For those who say these fatalities only occur when a skin-full of pints has been taken let me tell them what the facts say:

    Between 2008 and 2012, 35 people were killed in crashes where drivers/motorcyclists had a recorded BAC level of between 21 and 80mg (and were deemed culpable due to alcohol being a contributory factor). This means that 7-8 people, on average, were killed per year over this period at lower alcohol levels. The culpable party was not a pedestrian or the passenger – as has been suggested by vested interest groups’ intent on muddying the statistics – but a driver with a BAC at the lower alcohol levels. There have been attempts to rubbish these statistics. So much so that the Road Safety Authority wrote to every public representative last week to put them straight.

    Then one politician tried to create a link between the research behind my new Bill and the recent Garda breath-testing debacle. There is no connection between the data and research supporting this Bill and the current travails of the Gardai. This bill is not about the number of tests carried out, it’s about a change to the penalty and anyone trying to tell you any different is either too lazy to get their facts right – or have a vested interest in seeing people who drink and drive remain on the road.

    I’ve been accused of damaging the social fabric of rural Ireland by insisting that this Bill will save lives. Yet eight out of ten alcohol related collisions occur in rural areas. For those who say this Bill is not needed, and that I have ‘no real grasp of the complexities of drink-driving’ I ask you?  Are you sincerely saying that the 7-8 people killed annually at the lower alcohol levels are collateral damage? Are their lives worth you having that extra pint and getting away with it? I dare you to say that to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives because of drink drivers who should have been off the road.

    We need to seriously change our attitude to drink driving in this country. This Bill is a necessary step in doing that and I make no apologies for it.

    Shane Ross T.D. 

     

    Irish Daily Mail – Editorial 05/04/2017:
    Ross is on the right road - Irish Daily Mail 05:04:17

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