Danny Healy-Rae: Three glasses of beer not ‘a danger on the road’
Kerry TD has no issue with a pilot who might drink that amount: ‘I’d go in the plane myself’
Danny Healy-Rae TD said: “Until the day I die, I don’t believe that anyone that has had just two or three glasses [of beer] - a pint and a half - that they’re a liability or a danger on the road.” File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Danny Healy-Rae TD has insisted on national radio he had never seen anyone whose ability to drive was affected by three glasses of beer.
Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, the Kerry TD argued: “I never condone drunk driving. At any time in the past, and it doesn’t happen any more, [when I saw] someone who wasn’t fit to drive... I took them home myself.”
Mr Healy-Rae said: “Until the day I die, I don’t believe that anyone that has had just two or three glasses [of beer] - a pint and a half - that they’re a liability or a danger on the road.”
He was speaking before Cabinet deferred a decision on whether to allow a free vote on controversial proposals to impose a mandatory driving ban on all motorists convicted of drink-driving.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross had brought his proposed Bill to Tuesday’s meeting for approval. The outline of the Bill was agreed by the Cabinet but any decision on how Independent members of Government will be allowed to vote will not be agreed until after the summer recess.
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Mr Healy-Rae stressed he would have no issue with a pilot who had drunk tow or three glasses of beer: “I’d go in the plane myself. I believe what I am saying.”
Asked why a ride-sharing or designated driver system cannot work in rural areas, he noted: “In rural Ireland, we’re talking about people living on their own, [...]Many of them where the nearest neighbour is two or three miles away, who doesn’t go to the pub. They are so isolated.
“What I’m saying to the Minister, and indeed what I’m saying to the rural Deputies who are representing the same kind of people that I’m representing, right around the country... I’m calling on those Deputies to come out and vote against this Bill, because they should take into account what the people out there are saying.”
Defending the legislation, Mr Ross told Kenny: “For me, it’s not a matter of numbers. If you can save people’s lives by doing this [...] let’s do it. Let’s do it even if it’s only five or six a year - that’s five or six people dying.
“We’re not changing the limit at all... we’re changing the penalty [...] We’re making a judgment - and it’s a very, very scientifically backed judgment - that those people driving over 50[mg] should not be driving.”
Members of Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance confirmed on Tuesday they will not support the legislation.
At the moment, a driver detected with between 51-80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in their system will receive penalty points rather than a ban for their first offence.
Mr Ross wants to replace this penalty with a mandatory driving ban so that all motorists convicted of being over the limit face a period of time off the road.