Friday 14 December 2018

Rural TDs suspicious over Ross bill vote

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Rural independent TDs have vowed to attend a special sitting of the Dáil this Friday as they continue their opposition to Minister Shane Ross's drink-driving crackdown.

Cork South-West TD Michael Collins said there was a suspicion the debate was scheduled on Friday - a day the Dáil doesn't usually sit - in the hope rural Independents wouldn't attend.

He claimed there was a plan to "get this through by hook or by crook".

This was rejected by a spokesman for Government chief whip Joe McHugh, who said such decisions were made by the cross-party Dáil business committee. He also pointed out that it was not the only debate scheduled for that day.

The Government hopes to finally get the law through the Dáil after almost 30 hours of debate in Leinster House.

The planned law would introduce an automatic three-month ban for drivers found with an alcohol level of between 50-80mg per 100ml. Those opposed to the plan claim it would contribute to rural isolation.

Transport Minister Mr Ross has accused rural TDs of filibustering. Last night, he said some of those opposed were "hell-bent on sabotaging a life-saving bill in the Dáil". He added: "Their guerrilla warfare is holding democracy to ransom."

Mr Collins claimed Mr Ross was responsible for the delays in the Dáil by not "rural-proofing" the bill. He said he sympathised with anyone who had lost a loved one on the roads but claimed the main cause of deaths was the "shocking conditions" of rural roads.

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae claimed Mr Ross had "made a hames" of the bill and said of the scheduling of the debate: "As far as I'm concerned, if it was Sunday morning I'd be there." Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said that he had "no issue" with the Friday sitting, adding: "It's only one hour. I'll be there."

Irish Independent

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