Wednesday 23 October 2019

Shane Ross's new driving laws branded 'draconian and punitive' at FG party meeting

TDs and senators shoot down plan to fine motorists more the faster they speed

Transport Minister Shane Ross
Transport Minister Shane Ross
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Fine Gael members have shot down new driving laws proposed by Transport Minister Shane Ross at a parliamentary party meeting tonight.

TDs and senators called the plans “draconian” and “punitive” as they questioned why they were necessary.

Senator Michelle Mulherin accused Mr Ross of living in an “ivory tower” over the issue.

Sources said Senator Martin Conway received significant support when he queried if the laws were part of the programme for government at a meeting tonight.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the meeting the laws are only proposals at this stage and have a long way to go before they could be enacted.

Former Health Minister James Reilly, Senators Catherine Noone, John O’Mahony Michelle Mulherin and TD Pat Deering were among those who spoke out against the proposals.

Mr Conway told the parliamentary party that a driver travelling from the west to Dublin could acquire 12 points and a driving ban before reaching their destination if they have forgotten their driving license and not displayed a tax disc while speeding.

Under Mr Ross’s proposals drivers speeding at between 20km/h and 30km/h over the limit would face a €200 fine and seven points.

This would be reduced to €150 and between four and six points for drivers speeding at between 10km/h and 20km/h above the speed limit. Anyone travelling up to 10km/h above the limit would be hit with an €80 fine and three to five points.

Dangerous driving would lead to an automatic disqualification. This would apply to drivers doing speeds more than 30km/h above the limit.

Penalties would also apply if a driver does not have their driving license on them when stopped by gardaí.

Sources said Mr Conway told the meeting he wanted to see the scientific evidence that supports introducing the proposals.

However, his question about why the proposals were being considered when they are not included in the programme for partnership government received significant support.

“We have enough to be doing with housing, health and other issues in the programme for partnership government without adding to it,” he told the meeting.

He said the measures were “draconian”, while Ms Noone called them “punitive”.

Ms Mulherin also criticised the proposals in the Seanad.

“Let us be serious, the fines and the road traffic regime in place is already severe and very strict.  As I understand it we have three Es, education, engineering and enforcement. I think there should be more emphasis upon that than what the Minister, Deputy Ross is embarking upon,” she said.

“He is doing a great impression of somebody living in an ivory tower. He would want to get in touch with the realities of the law abiding people, the people being caught on the road for these very minor misdemeanours.  If speed involves something dangerous then there are other offences with which people can be charged, besides heaping it on again and again.  I would like to see further examination of this.”

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