Danny Healy-Rae’s Co Kerry ‘drunk driving’ legislation slammed as 'ridiculous'
New Healy-Rae legislation looks to permit driving after a few pints in rural areas
Kerry County Councillor Danny Healy-Rae has put forth new legislation that would grant people in isolated areas in Ireland special permits that would allow them to drive after consuming some alcohol. The new measure has since been widely criticized as “dangerous” and “ridiculous.”
Speaking to The Journal on Tuesday, Councillor Healy-Rae explained his proposed measures were meant to help “those people in every parish who are isolated and who can’t get out of their place at night”.
“A lot of these people are living in isolated rural areas where there’s no public transport of any kind, and they end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don’t want to take the risk of losing their licence.”
The motion put forth by Danny Healy-Rae calls for the Minister for Justice to permit Gardai to issue special permits to people in the most isolated parts of Ireland, such as around Healy-Rae’s constituency in Kerry, that would allow them to drive after drinking some alcohol.
The motion passed on Tuesday afternoon in Kerry with a vote of 5 in favor to 3, with 7 people abstaining from the vote, and another 12 people absent.
“The pub is invariably the only social outlet left in rural Ireland and they’re getting scarce now – just one or two in every village,” Healy-Rae said.
“I see the merit in having a stricter rule of law for when there’s a massive volume of traffic and where there’s busy roads with massive speed. But on the roads I’m talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it’s not a big deal. I don’t see any big issue with it.”
Ireland introduced lower alcohol limits for drivers and alcohol checkpoints which have in turn seen the level of fatalities on Irish roads drop significantly over the past five years. In October 2011, alcohol limits were reduced from 80mg per 100ml to 50mg/100ml, and to 20mg/100ml for drivers on their learners’ permits.
The year 2012 saw the lowest amount of road deaths in Ireland and showed a welcome 56 percent decrease since 2007.
Referring to the legislation that helped curb road-related deaths over the past few years, Healy-Rae said "That law was put in place and there was no debate. It's unfair that the same rule applies to someone driving a tractor as someone driving a coach or a lorry carrying a 30-ton load."
Under Healy-Rae’s legislation, he envisions drivers managing tractors or other machinery that wouldn’t be capable of high speeds, especially on desolate rural roads. He also sees the limit to be around two or three pints of alcohol.
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