Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said average speed cameras should become a feature of daily life on the roads as the State looks to increase road safety after a series of fatal road incidents over the summer.
Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois, Ms McEntee said there was a “worrying trend” in road deaths and that speeding was the top factor in fatal incidents.
She said there had been additional investment in Go Safe speeding vans, but added: “I do think we need to look more at average speed cameras. If you look to Scotland, as a jurisdiction, a similar population and similar roads profile, they use average speed cameras much more. They have less of a roads policing unit and they use technology in a different way, and I think it’s something that we need to look at.”
She said Gardaí will have a meeting with a team from the Scottish police in the next month to see how it might work. The State has two trial projects using average speed cameras in use at the moment, on the M7 and in the Dublin Tunnel, and Ms McEntee said compliance with speed limits in those areas is about 98 per cent.
“If you were to apply that to certain stretches of roads which we know are dangerous, where there are black spots, I really think it would make a difference.”
The Irish Times reported this week that an internal analysis circulated within Government suggests cameras could be deployed on 460km of rural primary roads. Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said Transport Infrastructure Ireland was working on a technical paper on where the cameras would be appropriate, which is expected to be finalised no later than the first quarter of the year.
Asked if the cameras would become a daily feature of life for drivers on the roads, she said: “I think they should be. I think we need to use technology in whatever way we can, whether it’s fixed cameras, whether it’s average speed cameras, whether it’s Go Safe vans, we need to use technology and help us to reverse some of these trends.”
Ms McEntee also insisted that, contrary to claims by the Garda Representative Association, that no Garda units were being disbanded. The GRA said on Monday that some units that have been key to toppling Limerick’s drugs gangs were being disbanded as a consequence of the Garda Commissioner’s controversial working hours plan.
“I have been absolutely reassured and assured time and time again that no units will be disbanded,” she said – and that while there would be a “reorganising” of certain units “there should be no diminution in the services or the response by Gardaí to members of the public to members of the community”. She said she had received assurances from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in the matter.
“There will be no disbanding of any team. There may be reorganising, maybe units that will change and alter, but there will be no disbanding.”
Ms McEntee acknowledged there was a “challenge” with Garda morale and said she knew there were “problems”.
“Like any organisation of this size and this scale there are always going to be matters that I need to address as Minister and hat the commissioner and his team need to address.”
“I certainly accept that there are challenges and that is very apparent in the last week,” she said, adding that the best way to address concerns was to get around the table and discuss them she said the entry and retirement ages for the Gardai were under consideration and that she had made a number of requests of Minister for Public Expendtiure Paschal Donohoe in advance of the budget.