Unbearable cost of drinking and driving
Published 28/10/2015 | 02:30
Occasionally a tragedy leaps out and catches us cold, reminding us just how narrow the gap is between normality and catastrophe.
Ronan and Gillian Treacy found that gap closed irrevocably when a drunk driver slammed into Gillian, as she was driving home.
The couple lost their four-year-old son Ciaran.
Yesterday, somehow, the grieving mother found the strength to give a searing victim impact statement revealing the crater that had opened in the hearts of her family.
Judge Keenan Johnson said it should be compulsory reading for anyone considering drink driving.
She spoke of the agony of listening to her two little boys screaming, and of the cold terror that set in when an unnatural silence fell.
Mrs Treacy described how as she herself lay seriously injured in hospital, Ciaran’s lifeless body was brought to her and she tried to hold him.
The driver responsible for this terrible pain admitted drinking between eight and 10 pints on the day of the crash.
Coincidentally, Gillian has undergone 10 operations, and faces losing part of one of her legs, since the crash.
So far this year 127 people have died on our roads, leaving behind devastated families and endless regrets.
In all sudden deaths, surviving relatives will lament one of the most difficult things is being cheated of the chance to say goodbye.
Last week we learned that more than 20,000 people have been due before the district courts for drink-driving offences since 2013. Alcohol is estimated to be a contributory factor in one-in-three fatal collisions according to the Road Safety Authority. Lessons don’t seem to be getting through. That is why the words of Gillian Treacy should indeed be compulsory reading.
She has, according to her testament, been left with a legacy of suffering, but the worst injury is that of a broken heart: Worth bearing in mind perhaps; before that “one for the road”.
As a country we are failing our children
There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children, By this measurement, which was first mooted by Nelson Mandela, Ireland is failing, and failing badly. A new report reveals how the level of child poverty here has almost doubled in the past seven years, as the homeless children figures reached almost 1,500.
According to the Children’s Rights Alliance more than 700 families and nearly 1,500 children found themselves in emergency accommodation as of August this year.
It also finds almost a quarter of lone parent households “are living in consistent poverty”. According to Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of CRA, “if you talk to the housing authorities they will tell you it will take up to two years to rehouse the children that are in emergency accommodation at the moment.”
Meanwhile, homeless groups have also highlighted the glaring need to address the housing crisis. Focus Ireland’s Mike Allen has pointed out how the number of people homeless has doubled since last year. While we await a meaningful Government response, in the teeth of a soaring rent crisis, we hear Environment Minister Alan Kelly berate his cowardly Coalition colleagues. Somebody, or some bodies really do need to get their houses in order.