Ireland won't ease drunken-driving law for farmers
By The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 9:46 p.m.
DUBLIN — A license to drive drunk? Some small-town politicians think it's just the tonic for rural Ireland.
Councilmen in Kerry, southwest Ireland, passed a motion this week asking the government to start a permit that would allow isolated farmers the ability to drink a few pints and then return home in their car, or on their tractor, without fear of being busted.
Its backers say the measure is needed to combat an epidemic of boredom and depression on farms ever since Ireland imposed tough new blood-alcohol limits on drivers in 2011.
But Justice Minister Alan Shatter shot down the proposal during a speech in parliament on Thursday as “grossly irresponsible.”
“There is no question of this government, or indeed I don't believe any future government, facilitating individuals drinking in excess of the blood alcohol limits,” Shatter said.
A generation ago, drunken driving was commonplace in Ireland, and even the smallest villages or forlorn crossroads would feature a pub. But in this century, the country has steadily improved road safety standards, introducing mandatory driving tests, blood and breath tests and above all a penalty-points system that removes licenses from dangerous drivers, particularly drunks.
The effort has slashed road-related deaths from more than 400 annually in the 1990s to just 162 last year, a modern low in this country of 4.6 million.
Kerry pub owners complain that their business has plummeted right along with that nationwide carnage — yet deny any connection between the two trends.
They describe the often narrow, lightly trafficked roads near their businesses as safe for people to navigate even after three pints of beer.
Danny Healy-Rae, who owns a pub and comes from Kerry's most famous and flamboyant political family, says farmers should be allowed to drive tipsy on their tractors because they don't go fast enough to kill anyone.
He said those drinking two to three pints at a pub should be issued a permit allowing them to drive home so long as they stay below 30 miles per hour.
He was one of five Kerry County Council members who voted for the motion Monday night. Three others voted against, seven abstained and 12 council members didn't show up. Their decision has no legal standing because the national government, not councils, sets policy on road safety.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Europe prepares to punish Moscow
- Vanished jet’s wild turn adds to mystery
- Teen’s death sparks protests across Turkey
- Western-backed Libyan PM removed
- Malaysian military says missing jet changed course
- Teen’s death revives Turkish street demonstrations
- Syrian civil war affects kids the most, U.N. says
- Guilty verdicts for 3 CIA agents upheld in Italy
- Swedish journalist slain in Kabul
- Ukraine’s Crimea seeks to become independent state
- Pistorius’ former friend tells of fits of anger