Monday 18 December 2017

'Brendan's Law' will save lives, says mother

Eilis FitzGerald

A grieving mother is calling for drunk drivers who cause a fatal accident to be denied the right to continue driving whilst waiting to come before the courts.

On October 26, 2009, Christina Donnelly's life changed forever. Her youngest son Brendan, 24, and his friend Lee Salkeld, 26, were killed by a drunk driver.

Brendan, Lee, and their partners were travelling to Cork Airport to fly to Amsterdam for a four day-break. At 2.40am, just outside Castemartyr on the N7, the car in which they were travelling was struck head-on by 29-year-old motorist Anthony Long. Brendan and Lee died at the scene; both women were taken to Cork University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Long fled the scene of the crash on foot -- and he only admitted to having been involved in the crash when he was told that he had killed the two men.

During his trial in November 2010, Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that the father of two had been drinking since 3pm the previous day, before going on to attend a pub fancy-dress party -- and had consumed 11 cans and bottles of beer, seven pints of beer, two vodkas, three shots of After Shock and a line of cocaine before attempting to drive home after a row with his wife. Judge Patrick Moran jailed Long for five years and disqualified him from driving for 15 years.

As the second anniversary of the men's deaths approaches, Brendan's mother Christina feels emotionally drained and wakes up dreading the day ahead. She says her life is now an enormous struggle.

But Christina wishes to see some good come from the needless loss of her beloved son. Christina wants the law changed so that a driver who causes a fatal accident whilst over the legal limit can be suspended from driving while awaiting trial for their offence.

A Facebook page has been set up to promote this positive change. By 'liking' this page, facebook users can show their support for Christina and this change in the law.

Gary Wyse, a councillor from Waterford City, is the page administrator and is supporting Christina every step of the way.

"I firmly believe this loophole in the law needs to be addressed. If we can save one person, it will be worth it," said Mr Wyse.

Senator Mark Daly has agreed to raise the matter in the Oireachtas and Fianna Fail spokesman on Justice, Equality and Defence, Dara Calleary, has also agreed to support the issue.

"My life has been a total nightmare since Brendan was taken from me. If we could bring about just this one change then others would not have to suffer as I do.

"My today is someone else's tomorrow. Brendan was a wonderful, loyal son with high standards for such a young man," said Christina.

"I ring his old number and listen to his voice telling me to leave a message that will never be answered."

Sunday Independent

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