‘Gardai have manpower to deal with dangerous drivers’ insists Traffic Corps head
Ireland's top traffic garda has insisted he has the manpower to fight dangerous driving on the country's roads.
Assistant Commissioner Gerald Phillips, who heads up the Garda Traffic Corps, said numbers within his own ranks were down in recent years but that this had no impact on enforcement.
"We have the resources and we are dealing with it," he said.
"Nobody will ever say you don't need any more officers. We have been dealt a hand, we are working to the full potential with that hand."
Mr Phillips was responding to claims over the weekend by road safety tsar Gay Byrne that dwindling Garda numbers has resulted in an upturn in people taking chances on the roads again.
The senior-ranking officer said the figures for road offence detections did not reflect a drop in Traffic Corps numbers, from more than 1,200 to 854.
Speaking at the launch of a new road safety initiative targeting tourists, Mr Phillips said it was not just the Traffic Corps that was manning the roads, but other regular units within the force too.
The tourist initiative will see road safety manuals, printed in eight different languages, placed in every one of the country's estimated 18,000 rental cars this summer.
Noel Brett , chief executive of Road Safety Authority (RSA), said it was part of a campaign to reduce the number of tourists involved in accidents.
There were 22 visitors to Ireland killed on the roads over the last four and half years, around five a year.
A further 34 were seriously injured in car crashes.
Mr Brett said billboards at airports and ports, as well as messages online and in the press will target tourists driving, cycling and walking in Ireland while also asking Irish drivers to be forgiving and helpful to visitors on the roads.
Meanwhile, junior Tourism Minister Michael Ring said there should be no Garda discretion for anyone involved in motoring misdemeanours.
Speaking about the penalty points controversy, the Fine Gael TD called for the abolition of the current system that allows Garda officers to quash penalties in certain circumstances.
"Whoever gets their points should take their points, there should be no wavering of points for anybody," he said.
"I hope that system that was there will be got rid of immediately.
"I never knew that system was there, and all I want to say, quite clearly and loudly, is anybody who gets their points should take their points, pay for their points, and there should be no discretion for anybody in relation to points."