Sunday 25 September 2016

Tributes to road safety champion Gertie (85)

Paul Healy

Published 05/08/2015 | 02:30

Road Safety Campaigner and founder of Mothers Against Drink Driving Gertie Shields and broadcaster Gay Byrne
Road Safety Campaigner and founder of Mothers Against Drink Driving Gertie Shields and broadcaster Gay Byrne

Broadcaster Gay Byrne has led tributes to the late road safety campaigner Gertie Shields who spent her life fighting for stricter laws against drink-driving.

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Ms Shields (85) died peacefully, surrounded by her family, at the Mater Hospital last Thursday.

A native of Balbriggan, she became a road safety champion after her daughter Paula (19) and five others were killed when a man driving under the influence ploughed into their mini-bus in February 1983.

Gertie spent the rest of her life campaigning against drink-driving and set up her own group, Mothers Against Drink Driving.

Mr Byrne, former chairperson of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), met Gertie many times and yesterday said she was "an ordinary woman who took on an extraordinary campaign".

He said she had contributed to the "change of attitude" on drink-driving within Irish society.

"Often I look back at the time when we were met with such opposition and abuse from people and I see the difference now, there is not one single dissenting voice," he said.

"She has to be commended for her part in that. She came to our meetings and seminars and always made sure she got a word in."

He described her as a "jolly woman" who was "very approachable".

RSA chairperson Liz O'Donnell said Gertie was "a true champion of road safety".

"Gertie spoke out about drink-driving when it wasn't popular to do so," she added.

Irish Independent

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