Poignant display of smiling faces outside Leinster House - each a moving tribute to a life lost on Ireland's roads
Dozens of touching photographs depicting the victims of drink-driving deaths were displayed outside Leinster House yesterday.
The poignant vigil highlighted the impact of drink driving on the families of victims and was organised by members of the Irish Road Victims Association.
The rows of white picture frames each captured a smiling face of one of the victims in a moving tribute to their memory and their lost lives.
The portraits appeared outside the entrance to Leinster House in support of the Minister for Transport Shane Ross’s proposed new drink driving ban.
In a test of his leadership, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar avoided a Cabinet stand-off over the controversial road traffic legislation by recommending to his TDs and senators to back the proposal.
The bill will see the introduction of a three-month mandatory ban for motorists found to have reached an alcohol limit of between 50mg-80mg per 100ml.
At present, motorists detected to have reached this limit receive penalty points for their first offence.
Road safety groups are insisting the measures are necessary while opponents of the bill have said it will seriously impact the lives of people in rural Ireland.
Notably in opposition is Independent TD for Kerry Danny Healy-Rae, who was confronted outside the Dáil by family members of drink-driving victims.
Deputy Healy Rae told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show yesterday that he believed driving after three glasses of beer was safe.
“Until the day I die, I don’t believe that anyone that has had just two or three glasses [of beer] – a pint-and-a-half – that they’re a liability on the road,” he said.
It is understood that the Government is willing to support rural publicans who may want to provide their own bus services to drinkers on Friday and Saturday nights.
Mr Varadkar will face his parliamentary party in September and ask them to back the plan. However, if enough backbench TDs express opposition, the Taoiseach may be forced to allow a free vote on the proposals which could result in a rural-urban split.