Wednesday 18 September 2019

'Christmas sleigh' perched on roof of car owned by Shane Ross ally to be removed

Festive: The Christmas tree on a car in Stepaside. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Festive: The Christmas tree on a car in Stepaside. Photo: Justin Farrelly

Cormac McQuinn, Laura Lynott and Kevin Doyle

A 'CHRISTMAS sleigh' perched on the roof of a car bearing the name and image of Transport Minister Shane Ross is to be removed.

Councillor Kevin Daly, an ally of Mr Ross in his Dublin-Rathdown constituency, is to take down the large red box and Christmas tree from his vehicle as a "gesture of goodwill".

According to a spokesperson for Mr Ross, Mr Daly maintains that Gardaí approved the vehicle and sign but he is to remove it so that there is "no ambiguity where road safety is concerned".

The 'sleigh' has a slogan that reads: “Happy Christmas Cllr Kevin Daly, working with Shane Ross TD. Like Santa we deliver.”

When the vehicle came to their attention the Road Safety Authority (RSA) initially raised concern and said it should be taken down.

A spokesman said: "We couldn’t condone it (the box). It doesn’t look secure, it isn’t safe and should be removed. It shouldn’t be out on the road. It needs to be removed."

Mr Daly insisted the structure on top of the car was safe when the RSA concerns were put to him.

He said: “The structure on top of the vehicle in question was inspected by local Garda today who stated there was no problem with it, as it’s structurally sound and safe."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was somewhat surprised to hear about the stunt when alerted to it by journalists at his annual pre-Christmas briefing in Government Buildings.

A visibly bemused Taoiseach said: “I’ll try speak to Minister Ross before I make any comment on it – but I know he’s very committed to road safety so I’m sure take any advice from the RSA on board.”

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys criticised Mr Ross for what he argued was a dangerously placed sleigh and a "clear road hazard".

He claimed: "It seems to be a case of 'do as I say, not as I do' when it comes to the Minister for Transport's road safety drive.

"Perhaps the Minister should consider the introduction of penalty points for stupid stunts?,"  he added.

Then this evening the RSA issued a statement backtracking on its previous advice that the sign should be removed.

It said: "The RSA can confirm that it has spoken to Councillor Daly regarding the structure displayed on the roof of his vehicle.

"He has confirmed to us that he has satisfied the Gardai in relation to the security and safety of the structure, which gives the necessary reassurance.

"Furthermore the councillor has confirmed that the necessary insurance is also in place.

"The councillor confirmed that he will also take on board our concerns."

Later a spokesperson for Mr Ross said that Mr Daly has said he will take the sign down.

She said: "I have spoken to the councillor who has said, even though Gardai have approved his vehicle and sleigh, he has decided to remove it as a gesture of goodwill to ensure there is no ambiguity where road safety is concerned."

She added: "Minister Ross does not own, nor has ever driven this vehicle."

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