Road deaths heading for 400 mark


Gardaí in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, are investigating a fatal crash which claimed the life of a man.

It happened in the early hours of yesterday morning when the man's car left the Mallow-Kildorrey road. He was the only occupant of the car.

He was named as Eugene Whelan (28) from Annakissa, Mallow.

Meanwhile, a 55-year-old Sligo woman died in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, on Christmas Day from injuries she received when struck by a car at Cashel, Tubbercurry, on Christmas Eve night.

Gardaí have also renewed their appeal for witnesses to a collision which claimed the life of an elderly woman on the Bunree Road in Ballina, Co Mayo, on Christmas Eve. Emily Gilmartin, Greenhills Estate, Ballina, died from her injuries in Castlebar hospital after being struck by a car.

The number of deaths on the road this year will exceed last year's figure. A Garda spokesman said that its latest figure of 391 fatalities was an increase of 20 on 2004. The figure could spark off a political controversy next month when the new Road Safety Authority takes over from National Safety Council (NSC).

One of the authority's main functions will be to tackle poor driver standards, seen as a major weakness in the campaign to cut deaths.

Last month, chairman of the NSC Eddie Shaw resigned his post, arguing that he had to take responsibility for failing to convince the Government to invest in its own policies on road safety.

He said that if the Republic was on a par with the rest of Europe, 20 people would be killed and 160 injured on the roads every month.

As it was, this year the number of deaths, when it should be 240, was heading to 400 , which meant that between 140 and 160 people were dying unnecessarily.