Dáil debates

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

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


7:20 pm

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

Will the only place in which we can buy a drink be an off-licence? That is awful. It will be a sorrowful day for Ireland if that comes to pass. It would be very poor of me to fail to record that.

I refer finally to our young people. What, in the name of God, will come of them if they cannot get the start? People say they should take lessons and pass the driving test. How can they pass the test when they cannot get called for the test? I thank the testers and instructors in Kerry and compliment them on the service they provide. However, they will be the first people to tell one that they need help. They need more resources and to be given the capacity to work longer hours for which they are compensated. The backlog is an emergency situation. Why should young people be told they are committing a criminal offence by driving without a full licence when they are being told on the other hand by another arm of the State they must go on a waiting list to do the driving test and will be called when they are called. That is not good enough. That is not acceptable. It is not young people's fault. All a young person wants to do is go to college and work and earn some money on a part-time basis. Young people need that money desperately. There are pressures on young people today that we did not experience when we were starting out. Every young person deserves the right to life in the first instance, which it is no harm to record again tonight, and the right to live that life then in the same way as the rest of us. That means they should get their driving licence when they want it and get on the road in their cars when they want to. Why should we criminalise them for doing that? That is compounded by the emergence of the fact that the person who owns the motor car could finish up as a common criminal. My goodness, where are we going?

It is one thing to direct these comments to the Minister, Deputy Ross, but we must also talk about those who work in officialdom, who went along with all of this and who did not cry stop. That is wrong. There are excellent people working in the Department as I know because I deal with them a great deal. They have great ability. However, there are civil servants hiding among the mandarins of the Department who seem to think they can close their eyes to this rather than to express concern. There are two Irelands. These are, respectively, the places we represent, which have it tough and which struggle to survive, and the places that have everything at their fingertips.

I do not want to go on too long. I thank Deputy Eamon Ryan of the Green Party with which I do not always agree for doing me the courtesy of facilitating me tonight. I will repay the compliment sometime. I ask that what I have said is noted. If the Minister saw the number of contacts with me on foot of last night's debate, it would be frightening. It is hard to believe until one sees it. I will show him the number any time. If he saw what I did, he would note that, my God, there is a significant group of people out there who are extremely upset and worried by this Bill, what it contains, what it means for the future and what will come after it. That is the big question. Like last night, tonight will be remembered for a long time.


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