Wednesday, 1 February 2006
Road Traffic Offences.
Róisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
The advice received by the Garda Commissioner last week conveniently seemed to get lost in the announcement by the Taoiseach about legislating on this issue. The Commissioner was very clear last week. The Attorney General told him that members of the Garda could set up random road checks for the purpose of detecting drink driving and that they could test people if they have reasonable suspicion that they have been drinking. If the person failed that test, it could provide the grounds on which they could pursue the issue by having a further test in the station. It seems to be the case that the Garda has all the powers it requires under existing legislation to dramatically change the approach to drink driving. This is welcome news and I cannot understand why the Minister for Transport and the Taoiseach are continuing to obfuscate and talk about legislating for it in the long term. There are substantial powers available to the Garda right now, as has been clarified by the Attorney General. If the Minister was serious about tackling the problem of drink driving, he would give a very political instruction to the Garda to launch an immediate campaign to clamp down on drink driving.
The Minister received that advice from the Attorney General some time ago and the Commissioner clarified that the advice had come from the Attorney General through the Minister. It is now several months since he got that advice and I wonder why he remained silent about that. Why has he not welcomed the fact that the Garda now has much stronger powers than presumed heretofore? Why is he not acting on that? Why does he continue with these delaying tactics, talking about legislating at some point in the future? All of the powers already exist for the Garda to tackle the scourge of drink driving.