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New drink driving legislation: "Rural Ireland is finished"

Story by Olga Aughey

Thursday, 20th April, 2017 3:33pm

New drink driving legislation:

His comments come on foot of the proposed changes by Minister for Transport, Shane Ross TD, who wants legislation implemented that would ensure motorists with a blood alcohol level of 50mg-80mg would be automatically disqualified for three months.

"It's the fear factor. There are people in their 60s and 70s who come down for a pint and a chat. They live within a three mile radius. Everyone has their stance on drink driving.

“Nobody is condoning young lads going out and getting drunk, taking drugs and driving.

“I'm talking about retired people, widowers or those who live on their own, and they're frightened that their only social outlet will be taken away from them," commented Mr Troy.

Joe Gallagher of The Manor in Tullamore and The Pull Inn, Pullough belives rural Ireland is finished.

“We all know it’s going to affect business. Rural pubs are a wash-out as it is.”

"It's a social aspect of rural life that will be lost if zero tolerance is enforced," Mr Troy said.

Joe Gallagher of The Manor in Tullamore and the Pull Inn Pullough believes the elderly will suffer if the changes happen.

"The older people are badly affected. The post offices are closing, and now the pubs. Rural Ireland is finished. The old people have nowhere to go. The pub was the place they met up and had a couple of pints. How will they get out of their houses?

"There should be some sort of allowance towards transport. Something needs to be done for rural Ireland."

The Vintners' Federation Ireland have said there is no justification for the Transport Minister's proposed legislation and believe enforcement of current legislation is the most effective method of reducing road fatalities.

They say there has been a significant reduction in Garda presence on the roads in recent years.

Locally, rural publicans are already finding it difficult to stay open, and say the new legislation, along with the closures of the post office and garda stations, is hammering another nail in the coffin that is rural Ireland.

Their views are backed up by the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) chief executive, Padraig Cribben who stated that figures in the Road Safety Authority report, used to formulate the new proposals, revealed 1.3% of road fatalities involved drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level between 51mg-80mg:

“Of course, legislation that would reduce or eliminate this 1.3% would be welcome and justified if there were evidence that in these cases alcohol was a determined cause of the accident. There is no such evidence,” Mr Cribben said before a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Transport Committee regarding the Fixed Penalty – Drink Driving Bill 2017 recently. 

Mr Cribben said that while the RSA report states alcohol was the sole contributory factor in 11% of collisions, there was no evidence to say if any of the 11% fall into the 51mg-80 mg category or, indeed, which category they fall into.

He said other contributory factors cited by the RSA must be considered and pointed out that the RSA report stateds that in 301 of the 330 alcohol related collisions, other behavioural contributory factors in combination with alcohol include speed, drugs, dark clothing, dangerous behaviour, fatigue and distraction.

After thorough analysis of the RSA report, the VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben said “What we have is evidence of a presence of alcohol but no evidence that alcohol is the cause. These are two very different things.”

Padraig Cribben went onto say the increase in road fatalities since 2012 can, in part, be attributed to a major increase in commercial activity leading to significantly more traffic on the roads than previously.

“At the same time there has been a corresponding significant reduction in Garda presence in the Garda Traffic Corps. The conclusion does not demand rocket science,” Mr Cribben, the curren VFI head said. 

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