I drank and drove home from Late Late, says Gay
Published 02/07/2009 | 00:00
ROAD safety tsar Gay Byrne yesterday admitted to drinking and driving in the past but said it was part of the Irish culture at the time.
He also confided he used to regularly drive home while over the limit, sometimes after presenting the 'Late Late Show'.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) chairman made the surprising admission as he continues to campaign for responsible driving.
"I remember the days when I drove home from the 'Late Late Show' late at night -- the great thing in those days was to have a drink or two, or three, in the green room with the guests to thank them for coming and all that," he said.
"Undoubtedly I was over the limit, night after night, until at some stage I was told by the controller of programmes that I wasn't to drive myself home from the show anymore, drunk or sober," recalled Mr Byrne.
The former RTE presenter said his behaviour would have been viewed as perfectly acceptable back in the 1980s.
"Certainly 10 years ago, perhaps even five years ago, if you told your pals that you had had 17 large brandies last night and drove yourself home -- just about making it through the gate -- you probably would have been clapped on the back for it."
Mr Byrne was announcing details of a new six-month RSA campaign to promote road safety when he made the comments and said that Ireland is currently undergoing huge cultural changes.
"I believe that most people in Ireland are trying to be safer," he said.
"Many of us thought nothing about drinking and driving back in the day but that is definitely changing."
He said Irish drivers are now more conscientious about not drinking and driving.
"It's a huge adjustment for this country and shows that you can change a culture, slowly but surely."
Mr Byrne said when he looked back now he was grateful he never hurt anyone.
"Thank God I got away with it -- thank God that nothing ever happened to anyone," he said.
"It was simply the done thing then and nobody ever thought twice about it. They told you to take care, but not that you shouldn't be doing it."
Nowadays he says that he is lucky that his wife chooses not to drink alcohol.
"I'm blessed with a wife that has no interest in drinking and is prepared to do the driving for both of us."