Wednesday 19 December 2018

TDs exchange verbal blows during debate on Road Traffic Bill

The Ceann Comhairle struggled to get the room under control and accused those involved of bringing the Dail into disrepute.

The Road Traffic Bill would impose stricter penalties on drink drivers and make it an offence for car owners to allow a learner drive to use their car unaccompanied (Brian Lawless/PA)
The Road Traffic Bill would impose stricter penalties on drink drivers and make it an offence for car owners to allow a learner drive to use their car unaccompanied (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Press Association reporter

A debate on the Road Traffic Bill descended into chaos when opposing TDs became mired in a shouting match on three different occasions, with one TD’s behaviour labelled insulting to those who have lost loved ones on Ireland’s roads.

Michael Healy-Rae, a member of the Rural Independent group resisting the bill, was accused of rambling, verbal diarrhoea and talking the bill out of the Dail.

As TDs exchanged blows across the floor, the Ceann Comhairle struggled to get the room under control and accused those involved of bringing the Dail into disrepute.

The Road Traffic Bill, proposed by Transport Minister Shane Ross, would impose stricter penalties on drink drivers and make it an offence for car owners to allow a learner drive to use their car unaccompanied.

Mr Healy-Rae is trying to talk this bill out and wait till another election is called so he can do a deal and this law will never see the light of day TD Tommy Broughan

Mr Healy-Rae talked for over an hour about what he called adverse effects on rural communities.

He cited busy parents, waiting times for driving tests and insurance premiums as roadblocks to the effectiveness of the proposed legislation.

“Why is the government not tackling the high cost of insurance?

“Why are we not doing anything about bogus claim culture in Ireland?” Mr Healy-Rae asked.

He went on to say that people in Ireland make a career out of bogus insurance claims as it was a safer option than robbing a bank or post office.

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The Road Traffic Bill was proposed by Transport Minister Shane Ross (James Connolly/PA)

“Young people going to work, if they have to wait 30 weeks for a full driving test, what are they supposed to do?

“If they’re not able to work, how can parents manage?

“You’re doing absolutely nothing to speed up the process of getting full licences,” he said.

Mr Healy-Rae was accused by a number of TDs of filibustering and preventing the bill being passed.

TD Tommy Broughan told the Speaker: “This rambling discourse is not relevant to the bill.

“Mr Healy-Rae is trying to talk this bill out and wait till another election is called so he can do a deal and this law will never see the light of day.”

TD Imelda Munster told the speaker that Mr Healy-Rae’s behaviour was despicable.

She said: “It’s hugely insulting to those who lost their lives on roads and have been injured, it would serve him best to speak to the families here in the gallery who have lost loved ones.”

Press Association

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