Road safety in northwest must be reviewed in wake of Donegal tragedy – Seanad hears

Michael McDowell says road safety in region ‘a serious problem for many years’


Road safety, particularly in the northwest, has to be reviewed in the wake of the tragedy at the weekend in which four young men were killed in a crash in Co Donegal, the Seanad has heard.

Independent Senator Michael McDowell said that “today was not the day” to discuss the issue. He expressed his sympathies to the friends and relatives of Shaun Harkin, Daniel Scott, Micheál Roarty and John Harley, who died on Sunday night when the car they were travelling in left the road near Machaire Rabhartaigh in west Donegal.

The former minister for justice said that “when I heard that there were four young men killed in a car and the word Donegal came after it, it brought me back to a number of previous occasions.

“And I know today is not the day to discuss these things but I really do think that road safety and particularly in the northwest has to be looked at again.

“It’s a serious problem there and has been for many, many years.”

Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer offered the sympathies of the Government to the four families and to the family of Jackie Griffin who was killed on the M50.

Mr Buttimer said the deaths in the past week followed a 40 per cent drop in fatalities last year, the lowest since records began in 1959.

But he said there had been a 32 per cent increase in pedestrian fatalities and that category was most notably of men aged 55 and over.

He acknowledged a debate was needed and said it followed a weekend “where we have been traumatised by the tragic loss of life in Donegal”.

He said “it just sends that shiver when you hear of four young men in a car again”.

Referring to the widely criticised uploading of graphic footage of the fatal M50 crash on social media, he said the incident “highlights the need for us as a society to come to a proper understanding and usage of social media and mobile technology”.

He said the Oireachtas had a duty to legislate but social media companies also had a duty to think of the families, the victims of tragedies.

The use of social media in this way was “irresponsible and illegal, but it is important to recognise that there are families today grieving the loss of a loved one”.

He wanted to send a message to all those working in road safety “that we need to be more proactive”.

Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Catherine Ardagh extended her sympathies and that of Fianna Fáil to the families of those who died in Donegal and the family of Ms Griffin in Dublin.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these young people. It’s absolutely heartbreaking the toll of deaths on our roads,” she said.