Wednesday 23 October 2019

Cormac McQuinn: 'Tougher laws justified if even one life is saved'


Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Photo: James Connolly
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Photo: James Connolly
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Shane Ross has come in for much criticism for his penchant for pet projects and personal crusades since the Independent Alliance TD entered government. Political opponents have taken swipes at him for straying from his transport brief in seeking reforms to the way judges are appointed.

He has been accused of parish-pump politics for his push to get Stepaside garda station reopened.

While he denies those claims, he's not shy about highlighting the fact the station is due to come back into use next summer in his newsletters to voters in Dublin Rathdown.

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And he has had frequent gaffes, getting the names of sports stars wrong, and escapades such as the Independent Alliance's abandoned peace mission to North Korea.

However, nobody could say that Mr Ross hasn't made genuine efforts to improve road safety. He appointed two prominent road safety campaigners to the board of the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

Gillian Treacy - mother of four-year-old road traffic victim Ciarán Treacy - and chair of the Irish Road Victims' Association Donna Price bring their harrowing experiences to important roles.

Mr Ross successfully fought to introduce tougher drink-driving laws, despite howls of protests and prolonged debate in the Dáil from rural Independent TDs such as Mattie McGrath and Danny Healy-Rae.

Motorists now face automatic driving bans for having lower levels of alcohol in their system than under the former laws.

Despite claims about the effect on rural pubs and communities, if even one life is saved by the drink-driving crackdown, the law is justified.

Now Mr Ross has speeding drivers in his sights. He said this week: "We've already tackled the drunken driving issue. Speed is a parallel killer."

The proposed law is already causing serious unrest among Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil representatives, who have begun to hear complaints from angry constituents. They have challenged Mr Ross to justify his plans, maintaining that enforcement of the existing laws should be stepped up.

But those raising concerns about the plan will have to provide robust arguments for their position.

Because, like the drink-driving crackdown, wouldn't tougher speeding laws be worth it, if even one life is saved?

Irish Independent

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