Sunday 17 December 2017

'People have lost sight of what is important, Wayne Rooney allegedly drank and drove' - Father of Irish girl (16) killed in hit-and-run

Wayne Rooney and wife Colleen. Marsia Lieghio and her father Leo (inset)
Wayne Rooney and wife Colleen. Marsia Lieghio and her father Leo (inset)

Leo Lieghio's daughter Marsia was just 16 when she was knocked over and fatally injured by a heroin addict who left the scene of the crash. Addict Ciara McAlinden, who was driving the car, had been convicted a year earlier of drink driving and unlicensed driving. Leo has campaigned against drink driving and in this piece he outlines why he feels the coverage surrounding the arrest of Everton striker Wayne Rooney for alleged drink driving has missed the crucial point:

I find all the hullaballoo about the arrest of Wayne Rooney disgraceful and disrespectful to any person who has lost someone they love due to the selfish and irresponsible actions of a drink driver.

Because of his celebrity status the media and people have lost sight of what is important. They have been concentrating on his marriage and his career. I bet a lot even feel sorry for him. His marriage is probably finished and of course he will get a slap on the wrist from his club. When he goes to court he will have the best of solicitors and most likely get a minor ban and a fine.

All this will have no effect on him. He can afford to hire someone to drive him around and if he can't afford a small fine then who can? Sadly it is being treated as a joke to so many people. Judging by the social media commentary many people think it is a great laugh.

But to me and to so many others drink driving is no joking matter.

All this takes away from what people and the media should really be concentrating on. This man has been charged with drink driving. This is a serious matter, especially in the minds of us that have needlessly lost someone we love on the roads at the hands of drink drivers. To drink and to get behind the wheel of a lethal weapon is a very serious matter.

Marsia Lieghio
Marsia Lieghio

I find it difficult to understand why a famous footballer, held in high regard by so many and so many young children, would find himself in this position.

This man earns a fortune every week and he couldn’t afford a taxi? 

I am a member of IRVA ( Irish Road Victims Association). We campaign for road safety and help families get through the hard times when they lose a loved one. To us this is very serious and not a matter to be joked about.

I myself lost my 16-year-old daughter Marsia in a hit and run incident in October 2005. Marsia had only just turned 16. It was her birthday on August 31, she would have been 28. Marsa was knocked down in Clondalkin while crossing at pedestrian lights. She fought hard for a whole week before she left us.

Leo with his son Joshua
Leo with his son Joshua

Marsia died on her older sister Lia’s birthday. We cannot put into words the devastation we suffered and are still going through, the pain is felt by so many like us. So many people are needlessly killed on our roads. Deaths that ARE preventable.

We are fighting a battle against the Vintners association and some politicians to get a new Bill passed, where, instead of a miserable three penalty points and a €200 fine there will be an automatic three month ban. It is beyond belief how people still are not taking this serious.

It is a proven scientific fact that even the smallest amount of alcohol impairs a person's ability to drive. To hear some of our politicians come out and say it is okay to have three glasses of beer and still drive just makes me sick to my stomach. How in the name of God can any politician condone this behaviour? As the Native Americans used to say: "They speak with forked tongues."

On one hand they say they do not condone drink driving, yet they oppose this bill. This bill punishes someone that makes a conscious decision to drive after drinking. Do they not understand the current penalties are not working? Increasing the penalty points will not work and neither will increasing the fine. Remember the limits are remaining the same only the penalty will be changed from penalty points and a fine to an automatic three-month ban. Even this, in the opinion of many, is not strict enough. Most people I have spoken to want a prison sentence imposed for drink driving. There needs to be proper deterrents put in place and this is just the start.

Leo Lieghio and daughter Marsia
Leo Lieghio and daughter Marsia

The thing our politicians need to realise, if it is at all possible for them to think logically and morally, is that no one will be banned for drink driving if they just don't drink and drive. No one is looking for people to stop drinking, go ahead drink yourself silly but do not get into your car and attempt to drive.

If you do it's your fault and only you are to blame if you are banned. And only you are to blame if you kill or injure an innocent life.

The vast majority of deaths on our roads are preventable. It only needs people to get some common sense and realise what they are doing is so so wrong.

Our politicians need to get on top of this instead of playing party politics with such a serious matter. For the life of me I cannot comprehend how the likes of Fianna Fail can oppose this bill. To me and the vast majority of people it is a no brainer.

So I am calling on Micheal Martin and his compatriots to have a change of heat and support this bill.

I call on all responsible citizens of this great country to make it known to their politicians that they support this bill, to phone, to write to text or email their local representatives and let them know that you want stricter penalties for drink driving.

Let them know you want to put an end to the culture of "ah its ok to have a pint or two and drive home". There is no line in the Irish Constitution where it says that you need to drink alcohol to socialise. There are plenty of people who can go to a pub and have a great night without the need to drink. For God's sake and the sake of innocent lives if you do want to drink, please please organise a lift home and for your own sake do not drive home.

As regards to Mr Rooney, of all people he needs to be made an example of. People need to see that you cannot get away with this kind of behaviour. I hope the courts throw the book at him.

Online Editors

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