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Saturday 25 February 2017

Councillors warned by their parties over support for drink-drive permit plan

Fionnan Sheahan, Majella O'Sullivan and Barry Duggan

COUNCILLORS have been warned not to support calls for lower drink driving limits for rural dwellers as Fine Gael and Fianna Fail prepare to reprimand their members who backed the move in Kerry.

Both parties will give their councillors who supported the motion at Kerry County Council a rap across the knuckles. The warning came as Transport Minister Leo Varadkar spoke for the first time on the controversial plan, saying it sent out a bad message about Ireland internationally.

Fine Gael's Bobby O'Connell and Fianna Fail's Michael O'Shea backed the proposal of Independent Danny Healy-Rae (pictured) at Kerry County Council for the creation of a permit to allow motorists to drive home after drinking a number of alcoholic drinks.

Mr O'Connell and Mr O'Shea are both to be told to stick to the party policy.

"The party is looking at events surrounding this vote. The general secretary will be in contact with Cllr O'Connell in due course," a Fine Gael spokesperson said.

Fianna Fail said its position on the need to eradicate drink driving was "very clear" and had been at the centre of a generation of road safety policy.

"The proposal from Kerry County Council to tamper with very strong anti-drink driving laws has no merit and should be immediately rejected by the Environment Minister. The Fianna Fail councillor who supported this motion did so without any consultation with the party," a spokesman said.

Mr Varadkar said councils are able to pass any motion they like, however he said he did not think the Kerry motion was sending out a good message internationally about Ireland.

"Our cities are now very safe. Dublin is now the safest capital in Europe. Our motorway network is very safe and actually most of the accidents that are happening are happening in rural areas and on country roads," he said.

"While rural isolation is a real problem, and I accept that, the solution to it isn't to hand out drink-driving permits and obviously it's something I very much disagree with," he added.

Irish Independent

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