Monday 26 September 2016

'It’s a slap in the face' – grieving mother slams judge’s delay on drink-driving ban so driver 'can find a woman'

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 10/06/2016 | 16:50

Christina Donnelly mother of Brendan who was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident at Castlemarteyr, Co. Cork.
Christina Donnelly mother of Brendan who was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident at Castlemarteyr, Co. Cork.

The mother of a drink-driving victim has criticised a Kerry judge’s six-month delay on a driving ban as an “insult to families who lost innocent victims” on the roads.

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John O’Shea (60) from Derrinadin, Mastergeeha, was yesterday allowed a delay on his drink-driving ban to try to “find himself a good woman”.

The farmer had previously pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol on July 25, 2014, after a single-vehicle collision occurred while he was driving home from a pub in Waterville.

The judge decided to delay Mr O’Shea’s ban until December to give him time to make arrangements for his cows and find “a good woman” at Lisoonvarna matchmaking festival.

Christina Donnelly lost her son Brendan on October 26, 2009, when he was just 24 years old.

Brendan had been travelling with a friend when a drunk driver crashed into them.

On seeing reports of the judge’s delay, Christina was horrified.

“Some people would think this is funny, but it’s a slap in the face to families who have lost loved ones to drink driving on our roads,” she said.

“What if there had been an innocent victim on the road that night when he did go into the ditch? It sends out the wrong message for people living in rural areas.”

Read More: Judge gives bachelor farmer six-month delay on drink-driving ban 'so he has time to find a woman'

Christina has been campaigning for road safety since her son’s death and advocating changes to current drink-driving legislation under ‘Brendan’s Law’, under which drivers who cause fatal accidents would be denied the right to continue driving whilst waiting for trial.

“After knowing hundreds of families who got the knock on the door in relation to your loved one being killed, I think our judges live in a bubble and are in a draconian era when it comes to sentencing in the courts,” she said.

She also described how witnessing the response to the news had left her irate.

“You see so many hilarious comments but I thought, this isn’t funny for families who have lost loved ones. This is the wrong message and the wrong signal from our judicial system in 2016 when we have to take every precaution to save lives, not to lose lives.

“Where do families come into this, who have to read this? It’s an insult to families who have lost loved ones to drink driving,” she added.

“At the end of the day, with so much highlighting of road safety on rural roads, I think this gentleman should have called for a taxi or arranged for a lift. There was no excuse whatsoever, and I think the judge made a dreadful mistake in allowing this.”

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