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Crash victims' families 'angry’ at TDs opposing tougher drink drive laws

Victims’ groups feel they’re not being listened to and lives of deceased loves ones not valued

‘Danny Healy–Rae is actually afraid to come on and be challenged by those of us who are strong about road safety’. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Road safety campaigners who have lost family members in road crashes - many of which involved a drunken driver – have spoken of their hurt and anger at Fine Gael TDs and others who have spoken against the new Road Traffic Bill.

The new Bill aims to make it mandatory that those caught driving with excess alcohol should lose their driving licence.

Currently those with levels of alcohol slightly above permitted levels can pay a fixed charge penalty and retain their driving licence.

A further Bill proposed by Minister for Transport Shane Ross would make it mandatory that such drivers would be “named and shamed” publicly.

Speaking as the Bill was published on Monday, families of road traffic victims said backbench Fine Gael TDs who had expressed reservations about the Bill were disrespecting their deceased loved ones.

They also criticised Independent TDs, particularly Danny Healy–Rae who suggested that eating a big meal could be more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Ann Fogarty of Promoting Awareness, Responsibility and Care (Parc) road safety group said victims’ families were “very angry” because they felt they “were not being listened to, the lives of our relatives are not being valued.”

She said, “Danny Healy–Rae is actually afraid to come on and be challenged by those of us who are strong about road safety”.

But she said she would not engage any further with Mr Healy–Rae as she did not want to “give him the publicity”.

She said; “One TD last week had the cheek to say to me that out of consideration for me he wouldn’t debate with me. I don’t consider that consideration. Nobody had consideration for me the night of the collision in which my husband was killed and in which I was injured. Nobody had consideration for me that night and it seems they are all consideration now when I want to take them on about this issue.”

Moya Murdoch, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said 35 people have been killed on the State’s road due to drink driving and that the RSA is “100 per cent satisfied this measure will save lives” .

Mr Ross said he would appoint a nominee from the victims’ groups to the board of the RSA in coming months.