Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017: Report Stage (Resumed)
That is grand.
Again, it is very unfortunate that provisions concerning provisional drivers have been added to the Bill and to think that we will criminalise fathers and mothers - jail them, we are told. People commit serious crimes against old people in rural places and get away with it. They are not even jailed. The Minister said mothers and fathers must drive their children or teenagers with provisional licences to school, to their apprenticeships and to work. If they have two, three or four children, which they may have, are they to spend years driving these youngsters around when they could easily drive themselves? I had a proposal, which the House knows about, that young fellas or girls with provisional licences should have speed limiters fitted to their cars because we know that speed is one of the main reasons for accidents and fatalities. There are modern means of assessing the speed a driver does and it can be monitored and read. If they went over such a speed, we could do all these things to prevent speeding and make them drive more slowly and more safely. However, the Minister wants to go the hard route: jail the fathers and mothers or whoever else owns the cars. This is totally unsatisfactory to rural Ireland, where I come from.
Deputy Ryan has left the Chamber, and I do not like talking about people behind their backs, but I did not send him away. I listened to him so I am disappointed he is not listening to me. I can tell him one thing: if the Minister, Deputy Ross, and he joined together, it would be a fairly serious outfit for rural Ireland. One of them on his own is bad enough, but the two of them together would be a serious concoction. I heard Deputy Ryan say he was disappointed to see so many teenagers being driven to school and that more should cycle. If Deputy Ryan were at Kelly's Cross, six miles west of Sneem, where the school bus picks the schoolchildren up, and if we did not have that school bus, and if he is saying they should cycle into Kenmare, it would be dinner time before they landed. They would only be able to stay an hour or two before they would have to think about cycling home again. How ridiculous can he be? The honest truth of it is that I raised the issue of the turns from Blackwater Bridge to Tahilla this morning on Leaders' Questions. That road cannot be cycled safely. One would be killed there because two of anything cannot pass the road. A bicycle would be squeezed. The road cannot be walked safely. Many of our roads are not fit for that, and I am sorry about that. I do not know what Deputy Ryan was aiming at when he stated how many Deputies there are in Kerry and said that so many more people were killed. I do not know what he actually meant by that. It was ridiculous talk. I get on well with Deputy Ryan personally, but what he was talking about is nonsense. He said students would be safer cycling on our roads and that they would not be killed.
That is what I understood from him. That is absolutely bunkum.
Deputy Harty spoke about Dún Laoghaire and people whose lives are ruined when they finish up in Dún Laoghaire in a serious condition. He made it sound like everyone who ended up in Dún Laoghaire had an accident caused by drink. I know of one poor young fellow who was cycling when it happened to him and he was not cycling on the road. He is outside there now and drink had nothing to do with it. People are trying to cloud the issue and blackguard the people in rural Ireland. That is what they are at. They are trying to isolate them. Like I said last night, they want them to feel like rabbits inside a burrow who are afraid to stick their noses out because something would take a swipe at them. I cannot see the sense in making those points.
Deputy Ryan made it sound like the 159 people killed last year on the roads in Ireland were all killed because of drink. That is absolutely rubbish. Someone should be brought to account or provide statistics to tell all of the honest people around the country how those people were killed and why they were killed. Many of them were killed cycling and I am sorry about that; many of them were killed walking and I am sorry about that; many of them were killed driving and I am sorry about that too, for all of the families they leave behind who are hurt, but not all of them were killed because someone had a pint or a pint and a half.
I never condone drink driving and I never will. I know what I did any time I saw someone attempting it, but it was rarely I had to do it. I still say that anyone who drinks a pint and a half or who consumes up to 80 mg never caused a fatality and they are safe to drive, and I will stand over this until the day I die. I cannot understand what gripe the Minister has with the people in rural Ireland.
I would prefer if the Minister listened to me, but perhaps he is too busy and he does not care. Perhaps this is the other reason. He is certainly not interested in saving lives because if he were he would attempt to do something about the trees that are crossing our roads. A few months ago, in Storm Ophelia, three people lost their lives because of trees on our roads. It does not have to be a tree that falls on a car, it can be just a branch that will fall when the wind is blowing and come in the windscreen of a poor woman bringing children home and perhaps kill the children in the car also. The entire family and extended family would be upset and ruined forever. The Minister is making no attempt to deal with this. Take the road from Mallow to Kildorrery. Branches from trees along that road fell in the storm and they are still there, half hanging out over the road. No order or cognisance is taken of these situations and no audit has been done. The Minister could do it because he is the Minister with responsibility for transport and safety on the roads, but he just does not want to make an attempt to do so. He wants to make a name for himself this way, and this is what he is at. Look at all of the junctions. I highlighted this before but I make no apology for highlighting it again. Look at all of the dangerous junctions around Killarney.