Dáil debates

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017: Report Stage (Resumed)


7:00 pm

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I would like to very sincerely thank Deputy Eamon Ryan for facilitating me in speaking before him, because I have an engagement scheduled that I cannot get out of. I just wanted to provide an update following the contribution I made on this Bill last night. I suppose every person in this Chamber is busy and has a lot to do. Definitely when a person is a Minister he or she an extra workload arising from that portfolio. I must admit, however, that having received so many emails and text messages, and hearing from people in all the different ways they can make contact, I never realised until today that people listen to so much of what goes on here in the Dáil. What I am getting to is that whatever I said here last night, I got a reaction not only from County Kerry but from all over the country. People say that what I said was correct, and that the arguments that I made were reasonable and plausible, not outlandish or outrageous. The reason I am on my feet is to relay what the messages say: that the Minister should look at what is being proposed again.

I am awfully conscious of this. There are other things going on in rural Ireland for which the Minister could never be blamed. In no way could they be placed at the door of the Minister. There are other issues that were there before him, and there would be problems there if he never became the Minister. However, what he is doing in this legislation is compounding a problem that is already there. That is what people have been saying to me all day. I only came down from my office to take the opportunity to give this message. The amount of messages I have received is absolutely frightening. As I say they do not just come from County Kerry, but from all over this country. People tell me for God's sake to keep doing what I am doing. They mean the people who stood up here last night, on our own, including Deputy Mattie McGrath. There were six people who stood last night looking to have a vote. We were let down by the major parties.

We were assisted by some Independent Deputies and let down by many others, including some whom we helped previously. When they wanted help and assistance, we did not let them down but they let us down last night.

My eyes were opened today when I saw the reaction and realised a massive swell of people are worried about the future. They are concerned that this legislation will drag us into a place we do not want to be, namely, one in which young people will not want to live because of the terror caused by what will be needed to learn to be a driver and go out on the road. A perfectly sensible and law-abiding person who goes out and has a couple of pints, arranges transport home and needs to get up in the morning for work will also feel terror about failing a breath test the following morning because he or she may have drunk a small amount of alcohol the previous night. These are the worries and concerns people have. Our pleas may be falling on deaf ears but I would like to think they are not. I would like to think a certain person will realise there is a great deal of concern.

The one group of people who are not listening is other Deputies in this Chamber. I was brought up not to be critical. If I cannot say something good about another politician, I will seldom say something bad about him or her. I see other politicians who were elected by fine, honest-to-god people who are now completely ignoring those who sent them here to do a job. All around the Houses, Deputies who were elected to speak up for their constituents are now silent and are not present in the Chamber for this debate. Those who were here for last night's debate did not stand up to facilitate a vote and refused to do so when asked. Upon my soul, if they were standing up and I asked them to sit down, they would not do so, but they would not stand up for us last night. It does not make sense for them to ignore their electorate because people have a funny way of answering back. The electorate have the power to deny people the right to come to the Dáil. Some rural Deputies sent to the Dáil with a mandate to stand up for our way of life in rural Ireland are ignoring that mandate and being led by blind pipers. They are ignoring what is important, namely, the mandate given to them.

Many people are angry, upset and worried. The timing of this Bill is ironic. I have the exact figure on the number of postmasters and postmistresses in County Kerry who have been thanked by An Post for their services and told the company would be happy if they took a package and closed their doors.


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