Healy-Rae call for two pints driving permit rejected as ‘irresponsible’

Tánaiste dismissed call as insult to families of people killed by drunk drivers

’I’m asking you to provide a permit for the people who are only travelling on local rural class three roads so they can have their two pints and drive home on those roads.’ Danny Healy-Rae told the Dáil. Photograph: Alan Betson

’I’m asking you to provide a permit for the people who are only travelling on local rural class three roads so they can have their two pints and drive home on those roads.’ Danny Healy-Rae told the Dáil. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A renewed call by Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae for rural drivers to be given a permit to drink alcohol has been rejected as “irresponsible nonsense”.

The Kerry TD said the closure of pubs in rural areas had “left the social fabric in smithereens” and the community trapped and isolated.

He told Tánaiste Simon Coveney in the Dáil: “I’m asking you to provide a permit for the people who are only travelling on local rural class three roads so they can have their two pints and drive home on those roads.

“If they stray beyond those roads then nail them , but give them a chance to live and give them a chance to try it. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

But dismissing his call, the Tánaiste said Mr Healy-Rae seemed to be making the case that the way to keep pubs open is to allow people to drink and drive.

“That is not only irresponsible but an insult to so many families who continue to mourn the deaths of people who have been killed by people who were drinking and driving,” he said.

Mr Healy-Rae has strongly opposed the introduction of legislation which imposes a driving ban on first-time offenders where previously they received a fine and penalty points.

“The Irish pub has been known all around the world as a tourist attraction, a place of culture, traditional music, song and dance, storytelling, a place where families and workers meet to have a conversation, rich with characters who provided original entertainment,” he told the Dáil on Thursday.

“Many cities around the world have tried to replicate the Irish country pub. Now, people all around Kerry are afraid to leave their homes to go out and are like rabbits trapped in a burrow.”

Dismissing any suggestion of a two-pint permit, the Tánaiste said people could not be encouraged to drink and drive no matter where they lived.

“Please let’s not start proposing solutions which we know, because the facts bear it out, put other people in danger on our roads,” Mr Coveney said.

As well as insulting the families left bereaved by drink-driving crashes, Mr Healy-Rae’s attitude was about “trying to return to some sort of old Ireland that was better because people could get into their cars regardless of whether they had been drinking or represent a danger on the road is blatant, irresponsible nonsense, quite frankly”.

A drink-driving permit would not help revive rural Ireland, which the Tánaiste said the Government was committed to. The national broadband plan would bring high-speed internet connections to all homes in rural Ireland.

They were working to provide and support rural bus services that would help get people to their local pub, he added.

But Mr Healy-Rae asked “where are all the buses that the Government is putting on the road?”