Bushes, not alcohol, are main cause of road deaths, says TD

Two or three glasses of Guinness not a cause of accident for anyone, says Danny-Healy Rae

Speaking during a joint committee meeting on drink driving, Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has called into question the figures put forward by Minister for Transport Shane Ross

 

First climate change, now drink driving.

After grabbing international headlines last year for dismissing the role of human beings in climate change, Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae on Wednesday told an Oireachtas Transport Committee that alcohol was not to blame for many of the drink-related deaths on Irish roads.

Instead, issues such as “bushes sticking out in the road” are among the main contributory factors.

“It’s because our roads aren’t adequate for pedestrians,” he said. “We’re not allowed to cut the bushes so they’re walking halfway out on the road because the briars and the bushes are sticking out in the road.

“Some other do-gooders won’t let us cut the bushes except only a couple of times a year and then they are not even being cut then. You need to look at that.”

Mr Healy-Rae, who is also a publican, said drivers who had consumed alcohol were automatically blamed for collisions.

“If some poor unfortunate person who drank four or five pints walked home, fell out in front of a car, and was lying in the road when the car came along, and that driver had a pint or a pint-and-a-half, he will be blamed for that fatality.

“Two glasses or three glasses of Guinness did not cause an accident for anybody,” he added.

Kerry County Council passed a motion from Mr Healy-Rae in 2013 requesting that rural dwellers be given “drink-driving permits” to allow them have two or three drinks and drive home.

His brother Michael, who is also a TD, tabled a Dáil request asking then minister for transport Leo Varadkar to legislate for the permits. Mr Varadkar said he would “find it difficult” to support.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross told the committee he would like to introduce a drink-driving limit of zero, but that the proposal could mean people using alcoholic mouthwash could be found to be over the limit.