Drink drive cut will be death knell for rural pubs

Deputy Anne Rabbitte.

A contentious plan to impose an automatic three-month driving ban on all motorists detected drink driving would signal the beginning of the end of social interaction in rural areas that do not have the luxury of a Luas transport system or regular busses.

A Galway East TD says that if the new laws are introduced, then it will be a case of the “last person leaving rural Ireland, please turn off the light”.

Fianna Fail’s Deputy Anne Rabbitte described Minister Shane Ross’ proposed legislation to impose a mandatory ban for those caught marginally over the legal driving limit as “anti-rural”.

And she has the knives out for her two Galway East fellow TDs, Ciaran Cannon (FG) and Sean Canney (Ind) who, she said, are from rural areas but have not voiced their opposition to the proposal. “Their silence is deafening,” she said.

Currently, a driver detected with between 51 to 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood can receive three penalty points and a €200 fine. But Transport Minister Shane Ross wants to change so that an automatic three-month driving ban can be imposed in such circumstances.

Minister Ross is adamant that all instances of drink driving must lead to a driving ban and wants to change the law to impose a mandatory ban for all those caught.

While Fianna Fail have so far declined to support the measure, their Galway East TD is firmly opposed to any change in current the penalties for drunk driving.

“Does the consumption of a glass of wine with a meal or a person going to their local for a pint any more impairs the driving ability of someone suffering from exhaustion or tiredness through work or sporting activities? I don’t know and there are no facts to support this piece of proposed legislation.

“It is great for Minister Ross to come up with this suggestion from his Dublin 2 address but it does not take cognisance of anyone living in rural Ireland who want to meet up with people in a social environment,” she added.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.