‘Astonishing’ increase in drink-driving recorded in Kerry

Total of 300 arrested in county in 2017 and councillors place some of blame on taxi drivers

 One 81-year-old driver was stopped over drink-driving in Co Kerry last year. File photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

One 81-year-old driver was stopped over drink-driving in Co Kerry last year. File photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

 

The increase in the number of drink-driving offences detected in Kerry over the last three years has “astonished” the Garda Síochána, senior officers have told local politicians.

Official statistics show that 300 people were arrested in the county for drink-driving last year, up by a quarter on 2016 – and the number is expected to rise significantly further this year.

Superintendent Dan Keane said more offenders were being found in all age-groups up to 60 years: “Kerry appears to be rising, year on year,” he told Kerry County Council’s Joint Policing Committee.

Sinn Féin councillor Patrick Daly warned that the growth in the numbers of one-off housing over the last two decades was causing issues, since people now cannot get home by public transport.

Many of the people living in those houses in country districts are now in their early 20s: “Huge development has taken place on the outskirts of towns,” the Sinn Féin councillor said.

The taxi regulator has been asked by the Garda to investigate repeated claims that Kerry taxi-drivers are refusing to drive people out from towns, blaming bad roads, and unpaid fares.

Under the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, taxis cannot refuse fares under 30kms long: “People living in rural areas are totally dependent on the taxi service,” said Cllr Brendan Cronin.

However, Garda Inspector Tony Sugrue told the joint policing committee meeting in Killorglin that most drivers arrested were stopped inside town boundaries, not in country areas.

The Traffic Corps in Kerry arrested an “astonishing” 70 drivers aged between 21 and 30 last year:”We would all have believed this age group was not engaging in drink-driving.

Sixty-two drivers aged between 31 and 40 were prosecuted, he told councillors; 58 between 41 and 50, and 43 between 51 and 60. One 81-year-old driver was stopped.