Canney threatens to oppose Ross's bill
A member of the Independent Alliance has threatened to vote against Shane Ross's drink-driving legislation unless incentives are introduced for rural taxis.
Galway East TD Seán Canney wants a package of measures in the Budget to offset what he sees as the potential damage to rural life from stricter drink-driving laws.
However, his colleague Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, who was also reported to be unhappy with Mr Ross's bill, has told the Irish Independent he will back it.
"I'm supporting the bill based on the need to save lives," he said.
Mr Ross wants to impose a three-month mandatory ban on drivers caught with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol in their blood.
Currently the offence is punishable with a €200 fixed charge and three penalty points.
Fianna Fáil has indicated it will not back the bill, but the Transport Minister has the support of Sinn Féin - meaning it should pass a Dáil vote.
Several rural Fine Gael TDs have also raised concerns, but are likely to be ordered to follow the Government line.
Speaking on RTÉ's 'This Week' programme, Mr Canney said: "A lot of TDs want to see how this will be offset. If the bill is brought in as it is, with nothing for rural Ireland, I will be opposing it."
He called for a package of measures in Budget 2018 for taxis that bring people home from country pubs.
The former OPW minister suggested Mr Ross helps rural taxis with the cost of insurance or vehicle registration tax.
"It may not be a question of a huge cost, it may be a question of small things that will create a better service and parity of service in rural Ireland," he said.
Mr Moran said he has met with vintners and families who have lost loved ones because of drink-driving.
The Westmeath TD said he understands the challenges facing rural Ireland, but the bill is "taking away a loophole that should never have been there".
"This is about saving lives," he said.