Danny Healy-Rae and drink-driving permits

 

Sir, – Not for the first time Danny Healy-Rae has called for drink-driving permits to be issued to people in rural areas of Ireland (“Healy-Rae call for two pints driving permit rejected as ‘irresponsible’,” News, November 14th). He cites the loneliness and isolation of rural dwellers together with the demise of the local pub as the reason for his suggestion. In this regard, I would say that I’m not cynical enough to think that it has anything to do with him being a publican.

As is the norm, we tend to dismiss this type of idea as ludicrous and this is what happened in the Dáil the other day. However, rather than leaving it at that, could I suggest that we consider running a trial for this idea.

My thoughts are that in Mr Healy-Rae’s constituency, three different types of permit should be made available to locals. The type of permit would depend on people’s age and how far away they live from their local pub. So if you are young and live near a pub you will qualify for a “tipsy card”. This would allow you have two or three drinks and then drive home. As these people live near a pub they can go regularly so they don’t need to get hammered. The mid-level card will be the “half-cut card”, for older people who live further out and they will be allowed four to six drinks. For the oldest people, who live furthest away and probably can’t get to the pub that often, their card will be the “blotto card”. This card would allow them to drink as much as they want as long as they can get into their cars and start them. Obviously, for anyone who can manage to drive to a pub, have a soft drink or non-alcoholic beer and actually enjoy themselves, they can continue to use the standard driver’s licence.

We should run this pilot scheme for a one- or two-month period over Christmas and see how many accidents actually happen. We can involve local hospitals, emergency service and Garda to compile the relevant numbers. Also, as a side issue, Mr Healy-Rae should advise us as to how much his bar takings have increased during the relevant period.

Ultimately, after all this data is assessed we then can see how good Mr Healy-Rae’s idea really is. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN CULLEN,

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.