THE partner of a man killed while cycling to the pub for an Easter Sunday drink has spoken of her "devastation" after he was struck by a minibus.
Declan Lowney (67) had only returned to Ireland at the weekend from a trip to the US where he had spent a number of months.
He was hit by a minibus at Kilcummin Cross on the outskirts of Killarney, Co Kerry, shortly after 9.45pm.
He had lived with his partner, Joan Murphy, in Kilcummin for the past 10 years and previously resided in Castleisland, Co Kerry.
The victim, who had worked in construction, was a native of Kanturk in north Cork where he operated a fast food business several years ago.
"We don't really know for sure what happened but it appears he veered out on the road and the bus hit him," Ms Murphy told the Irish Independent.
"He was going to the bar for a drink with friends and that's when it happened."
Mr Lowney was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was brought by ambulance to Kerry General Hospital for a post-mortem examination.
The driver of the minibus was not injured and there were no passengers on board the vehicle at the time.
Mr Lowney's death brings to 49 the number of people killed on Irish roads so far this year – 15 more than this time last year.
Although 162 people lost their lives in 2012, it was the lowest figure ever recorded since records began.
Road safety chief Gay Byrne said that while the current spike was "worrying", he believes it is just a "blip".
"We had a rise in June last year, but that's all it was. There aren't any trends or any obvious reasons why there's this present spike," he said.
"The impression was gained that garda enforcement had gone down because of garda numbers being decreased. Once the perception gained ground that you can probably do whatever you like and the chances of being caught are remote, bad behaviour goes up," he added.