Danny Healy-Rae threatens to sue Shane Ross over remark

Kerry TD tells Minister he will answer for calling rural TDs ‘road-traffic terrorists’

Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae has threatened legal action against Minister for Transport Shane Ross after he described him as a "road-traffic terrorist".

The Kerry TD has persistently and repeatedly criticised legislation to impose automatic driving bans on first time drink-driving offenders and has spoken at length in the Dáil on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill.

The legislation, currently before the Dáil, also provides for gardaí to seize the vehicle of learner permit-holders, driving without a fully licensed motorist.

In an interview earlier today Mr Ross called on Mr Healy-Rae “and his gang to stop the filibuster. They are behaving like road-traffic terrorists.”


He added: “there’s a kind of guerrilla warfare going on, which is costing lives, and I appeal to those very, very few people left opposing this in the Dáil, to stop the filibuster, to stop the guerrilla warfare and to allow this legislation through, which is the will of the Dáil.”

Speaking during the ongoing debate tonight on the legislation, Mr Healy-Rae told the Minister “I will be dealing with that in another fashion Minister. I have sought legal advice on it.”

He said: “I’m very hurt by being called a terrorist and you will answer to someone somewhere what you meant by that because I’m not letting it go.”

And he suggested that by calling him a terrorist the Minster might also be saying the same of his constituents.

“I don’t know why I should be called a terrorist when I’m only representing the people of Kerry that elected me here, that elected myself and my brother in such a fashion.

“And by calling me a terrorist you could be calling them terrorists as well.”

Mr Healy-Rae added: “I have to say to you Minister that I have a family at home as well and I don’t think that you or anyone else inside here or outside would like to be called a terrorist.”

He also cited his extensive driving qualifications and said “”I never hurt or harmed anybody.

“I have a licence that I’m proud of to drive every vehicle on the road.

“I got my first licence. I used to drive a tractor. I did my driving test in a motor car. I did it in a rigid lorry. I did it in an articulated lorry.

“I did it on the largest coach. I’m licensed to pull a trailer after a coach and I’m proud of that fact.

“Maybe you’re after losing the run of yourselves because there was some mention of a bunch of ye going to Korea and sorting terrorists out there,” he concluded in reference to a suggestion subsequently aborted by the Independent Alliance about travelling to North Korea when tensions on the Korean peninsula had peaked earlier this year.

Independent TD Michael Collins said he had been included in the "gang" who opposed the legislation because of its impact on rural Ireland. He suggested that learner drivers in rural areas could be allowed to drive to and from work while they awaited a test but could not drive for social reasons.

The Cork TD said they were being called terrorists over the legislation but he said he had spoken for just 16 minutes in the Dáil on the Bill

While he did not think the Minister’s comments were aimed directly at him he had looked at the definition of terrorist that it was “a person who uses unlawful violence”.

He said the use of such a description was an abuse of privilege.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times