Wednesday 23 August 2017

Drink driving ban moves step closer as Leo tells junior ministers to back Ross bill

'There are times, and one would have thought that matters of life and death would be a case in point, when there is really only one right thing to do.' Photo: Stock picture
'There are times, and one would have thought that matters of life and death would be a case in point, when there is really only one right thing to do.' Photo: Stock picture

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has whipped his team of ministers of state into voting for Shane Ross’s controversial drink driving bill.

Speaking at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, Mr Varadkar said junior ministers will be expected to back decision by Cabinet to support the proposed three month mandatory ban.

The Fine Gael leader said the party will discuss the controversial legislation as a whole once it is published in the autumn.

Significantly, he gave no indication that he would allow a free vote on the matter.

The decision to include his junior ministers in the Cabinet decision means a defeat for the bill is now highly unlikely.

But senior government sources last night said Mr Varadkar has already begin consulting his TDs in rural TDs who have serious concerns about the Road Safety Bill.

Mr Ross’s bill will see the introduction of a three month mandatory ban for motorists found to have reached an alcohol limit of between 50mg-80mg per 100ml.

At present, motorists detected to have reached this limit receive penalty points for their first offence.

Opponents say this limit is equivalent of a glass of wine and that Mr Ross’s bill will seriously impact people living down the country.

However, road safety groups insist the proposals are necessary and will bring Ireland in line with other countries.

The mood within the Fine Gael party is mixed to the proposal to introduce an outright ban.

TDs and a number of ministers are particularly concerned over the impact the move will have on people living in isolated areas.

“We are talking about the elderly neighbour who has a few pints on a Friday night. Will  he continue to do so now that he could be stopped the next morning on his way to mass,” asked one minister.

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