Fury Over Road Deaths

NATIONAL Roads Safety Authority chairman Gay Byrne, furious at the bank holiday weekend death toll, has blamed feuding government departments for some of the carnage.Byrne, 72, the former top RTE broadcaster appointed to head up the roads authority two years ago in a bid to increase safe driving awareness, was fuming over the tally of nine deaths and a number of injuries in the space of 72 hours.He told RTE's Morning Ireland current affairs program that the figure was "appalling." Then, barely able to disguise his fury, he went on to claim that an argument about funding between two government departments had stalled the introduction of speed cameras.He said the disagreement between the Department of Finance and Department of Justice had resulted in the delay of the roll-out of the cameras, which had been promised for the last four years."I believe myself that it is a continuing outrage in this country that we are still being prevented from having speed cameras by some sort of argument between the Department of Justice and the Department of Finance," he raged."We have been promised the speed cameras four years ago, three years ago, two years ago and one year ago and there is still messing going on between those two departments."It's an absolute outrage that we have been delayed for so long on one of the main planks of our safety program. I wish somebody would take charge of this and sort it out for once and for all."Byrne described the latest fatalities as "just awful." He said he suspected speed was a major factor in "most if not all cases," and he appealed to motorists to monitor their speed."I am asking them for God's sake to pay more attention to what they are doing. For God's sake to concentrate a bit more, to pull back on the speed and not to be lured into a moment of aggression or nastiness or hostility," he pleaded.Byrne urged drivers to be conscious that on public holidays there are probably more people, and more impatient people, on the road than most days so it was "so much more dangerous."The Department of Justice tried to play down Byrne's comments. A spokesperson claimed there was no issue over the implementation of the speed cameras and added that the project was "full steam ahead."She said contract negotiations would begin "soon" with the preferred bidder for the cameras, but she admitted she couldn't say when the system will be put in place.The Department of Finance said the funding of speed cameras had already been addressed, following a Cabinet decision. A spokesman added, "As far as we're concerned, the tendering process is under way, and we have not had any involvement since then."Gardai (police) say 119 people have died in road traffic incidents in the Republic so far this year.

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