Gaybo's warning on road safety 'crude', says senior garda
A LEADING garda has dismissed Gay Byrne's claims about cuts to numbers in the force's Traffic Corps as too "crude" and simplistic.
The number of traffic corps gardai has dropped from 1,200 to 950, leading the broadcaster to warn that word will spread among motorists that enforcement has been scaled down.
Writing in yesterday's Irish Independent, Mr Byrne, who has served as Road Safety Authority chairman since 2006, said the "general view is that overall enforcement is down and the bad behaviour is starting to return".
But Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey disagreed with Mr Byrne's assessment yesterday and said the bureau had looked at "smarter" ways of enforcing the Road Traffic Act with reduced resources.
Referring to Mr Byrne's warning, Mr Twomey said: "I wouldn't agree with that. That's a very simple, crude deduction to make.
"It doesn't do credit to the great work that is done, not just by An Garda Siochana but by all of the agencies involved in making our roads safer."
It is expected that official end-of-year figures will show the total of road deaths at below 200 for the first time since 1959, when records began.
However, seven people have been killed on the roads over the past five days, bringing the total for the year so far to 184.
The latest death was at Dunmore East, Co Waterford, shortly before 2pm yesterday. A man in his 70s was killed when the car he was driving collided with another at Gaultier Cross.
Three of those killed on the roads over the past five days have been pedestrians, including a man in his 30s in Straffan, Co Kildare, on Tuesday night.
Austin 'Ozzy' Noonan, from Clonagh, Maynooth, Co Kildare, was killed as he was walking along the R403 at Baybush, Straffan at about 10pm.
Mr Noonan's funeral will take place on Friday at St Mary's Church, Maynooth.
Labour TD Emmet Stagg said: "He was a very decent fella, a very good fella. This is such a tragedy."
Mr Twomey said the deaths in recent days were a stark reminder of the potential dangers of the roads. While accepting that resources within the traffic corps were falling, he said the force remained committed to enforcing the Road Traffic Act.
He added: "Yes, we accept that we're in changing times. Yes, resources are reducing, but over the last couple of years we've looked at smarter ways of doing our business on the roads."
In a black week for road deaths, Aaron Moore from Celbridge, Co Kildare, lost his life after he was hit by a taxi on the N4 at Mullingar, Co Westmeath on Tuesday.
Michael Doran (69), an inpatient at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick, was killed on St Stephen's Night when he was knocked down near the hospital entrance.
And Teresa Kiely (49), from Hollywood, Co Wicklow, was killed and her 16-year-old daughter was seriously injured when her car was hit by an SUV on Tuesday afternoon at Youngstown, Co Kildare.
Gardai have also appealed for witnesses to a crash on the Blackditch Road in Dublin's Ballyfermot on Christmas morning, when the driver of a red Citroen Saxo was seriously injured after his car hit an electricity pole.
The man was named last night as 75-year-old John Widger from Waterford city.
Mr Widger, a bachelor, had been returning from a walk on the beach with his dog when tragedy struck. His grand niece Laura Burke said the family was very shaken.