Monday 23 October 2017

Mayor wants 'boy racers' to drive pensioners home from bingo

Independent Councillor Paddy Courtney Mayor of Killarney
Independent Councillor Paddy Courtney Mayor of Killarney
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

ROAD Safety Authority chief Gay Byrne has dismissed a mayor's proposal for 'boy racers' to drive pensioners home from Mass and bingo as well intentioned but unworkable.

Mr Byrne said the proposal from Killarney's Mayor Paddy Courtney was "great in principle but just won't happen because of all the ramifications".

The independent councillor surprised rural-rights campaigners and road safety officials by proposing that boy racers act as a transport service for grannies and granddads in isolated areas.

He said that boy racers should "adopt" a pensioner so as to put their cars to good use by providing a valuable transport option in areas lacking public transport services.


"If they want to be driving these cars, drive properly and mannerly. Maybe adopt a friend and maybe take a neighbour to the bingo or down to the pub for two pints and then take them home," he said.

"Maybe these boy racers and racer girls, as they are called, they can look at this and say this is an opportunity to show we can do some good," Cllr Courtney added.

However,Mr Byrne said that while he could appreciate the benefits offered by the proposal, he foresaw insurmountable problems.

"I think it is a kind, well-meaning proposal. But I think it will never happen because of the obvious ramifications," Mr Byrne told the Irish Independent.

The former RTE broadcaster said transport was clearly a major issue for elderly people in rural areas.

"Obviously if some young person is known to a pensioner and if they are a good, responsible driver, then the idea of offering them a lift to Mass or bingo or whatever is a kind and decent thing," he added.

However, Mr Byrne said there were major issues involved which he felt rendered the proposal a non-starter.

Age Action also voiced major concerns over the idea.

"If pensioners do not know the driver, and also if the driver has a record or propensity to drive recklessly, then older people should not get into the car with them," Age Action director Gerry Scully said.

"I would urge a certain amount of caution and common sense to be adopted by the older person that if they don't feel secure with the person offering the lift that they don't accept the offer."

Mr Scully said rural isolation was a serious problem and the idea could work if it was properly organised and young drivers were properly vetted.


Cllr Danny Healy-Rae (Ind), who proposed a relaxation of Ireland's drink-driving laws for motorists in isolated rural areas earlier this year, backed the idea of young people using their cars for the benefit of others.

"I don't know how it would work but surely getting young people to help their older neighbours is a good thing," he said.

AA Ireland's Conor Faughnan said the proposal was more constructive than other recent rural motoring ideas but posed obvious problems.

"I think it is positive if we are talking about people being more civic minded.

"But if it involves something on an organised basis then there are obvious issues to do with insurance, personal security etc that will be problematic."

Irish Independent

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