Healy-Rae drink and drive plan irresponsible, say ministers and garda chief
TWO government ministers and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan have dismissed the call by Kerry County Council for a change in the law to allow people living in rural areas to drink and drive.
The proposal, tabled by independent councillor Danny Healy-Rae, was condemned as grossly irresponsible.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter said alcohol was a significant factor in road deaths and that the Government would not change the legal limits.
Mr Shatter was commenting after a meeting of EU traffic police officers at Dublin Castle, where Ireland's success in reducing the death toll for the seventh successive year was praised by overseas delegates.
The conference was told there were now more fatalities on Irish rural roads than in urban areas and that Dublin was regarded as the safest EU capital in terms of road deaths.
Mr Shatter said: "No one in public life should encourage intoxicated individuals over the alcohol limit to drink and place their lives and the lives of others at risk."
Transport minister Leo Varadkar acknowledged that rural isolation was a serious issue but said alcohol or drink driving was not an answer.
He pointed out that the number of road deaths here had been reduced by 24 to 162 last year and that this figure was the fifth-successive record low.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said: "If you drink, don't drive and if you drive, don't drink."
Meanwhile, Danny Healy-Rae has been invited to be a guest on the 'Late Late Show' to discuss his controversial idea.
However, a spokesperson for RTE was unable to confirm last night if the councillor would appear on tonight's show.
Mr Healy-Rae confirmed that he had been contacted by RTE to debate the issue and said: "I'd have no problem in the world with it." He said he had received "massive support" for his proposal – as well as a lot of abuse.
Meanwhile, younger brother, South Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, said he has asked the gardai to probe death threats against him and his family made online.