Sunday 20 October 2019

Rural revolt may put brakes on Ross's planned laws on speeding

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Kevin Doyle, Philip Ryan and Cormac McQuinn

New penalties for speeding could be dramatically reduced after an intervention by Fine Gael Cabinet ministers.

Transport Minister Shane Ross committed to reviewing his proposed speeding laws after he clashed with Fine Gael ministers.

A Cabinet sub-committee will now review the strict penalty point regime for speeding, which could see motorists receive severe penalties based on how fast they are travelling beyond the speed limit.

Every Fine Gael minister from rural Ireland is understood to have raised concerns with elements of the new speeding laws at Cabinet. However, Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring was the most vocal.

Last night, Mr Ross hailed the Cabinet decision to back the drafting of the new laws and welcomed a review of the contentious elements of the proposed legislation.

"I think it is time we focused particularly on the penalties for speeding, and made sure that those penalties increase according to how much people exceed the speed limit," he said. "The more people exceed the speed limit, the greater the danger," he added.

The minister intends to introduce speeding penalties based on how much over the limit a motorist is driving. He also wants automatic fines for not carrying a driving licence.

Mr Ross's proposal is that motorists driving faster than 10kmh above the speed limit would get an €80 fine and between three and five penalty points. Motorists driving 20kmh over the speed limit would be given a €150 fine and between four and six points.If you are caught travelling between 20kmh and 30kmh over the speed limit, the fine would hit €200 and up to seven penalty points. And anyone driving in excess of 30kmh above the speed limits will be charged with dangerous driving.

Sources described the mood within Fine Gael over the clampdown as "close to revolt".

The Irish Independent has also learned that Mr Ross's Independent Alliance colleague Kevin 'Boxer' Moran is "going ballistic" about what he viewed as an attack on rural Ireland.

A number of Fine Gael backbenchers also voiced opposition at a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and ministers echoed those concerns during a pre-Cabinet gathering yesterday.

Their anger was then directed at Mr Ross when the full Cabinet met, although sources say he "kept his cool".

"Ring really went out on a limb. He was very angry and wanted the whole thing scrapped," said one minister.

Ultimately, Mr Ross proposed having a Cabinet sub-committee before he moves on to the next stage of the legislative process.

Fine Gael sources interpreted this as an acceptance that the proposed penalties "will never be heard of again".

However, other Government figures said that while tweaks are possible "the idea of graduated penalties is accepted".

Irish Independent

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