Irish council votes to make drink-driving legal

Kerry County Council in southwest Ireland believes it should be legal for people living in remote areas to drink and drive.

When it comes to a tipple or three, no one likes one as much as the Irish.

So much so, in fact, that the Kerry County Council in southwest Ireland believes it should be legal for people living in remote areas to drink and drive.

By five votes to three, with seven abstentions, councillors passed a motion allowing police to issue permits exempting older people who live in isolated communities from drink-driving limits. 

It was tabled by independent councillor Danny Healy-Rae, who claims it will help prevent depression and suicide in the country.

According to Mr Healy-Rae, who owns a pub, people in rural areas are “travelling very minor roads with very little traffic” and “have never killed anyone”.

His proposal would allow such people to drive after having “two or three drinks”.

A number of councillors who supported him are also reported to be publicans, but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote, which took place “towards the end of a long meeting when many other councillors were absent".

Mr Healy-Rae said the current drink-driving rules were forcing an older generation to stay at home.

“All the wisdom and all the wit and all the culture that they had – the music and singing – that’s all being lost to the younger generation because these older people might as well be living in Japan and Jerusalem. The younger generation don’t see them at all any more,” he said.

The council will now call on the Irish Justice Department to implement the change – a move that has been condemned by the mayor of Kerry, Terry O’Brien, as being incredibly dangerous.

“I don’t know how anybody can be allowed to say 'You’ve had two pints, so you’re justified to drive',” he said.

Ireland once had the same adult blood-alcohol limit as New Zealand of 80mg per 100ml of blood, but in 2011 it was reduced to 50mg per 100ml.

For many drivers, the new law means consuming slightly less than a pint of beer could push them over the limit.

The council’s proposal sparked a barrage of comments on social media, most highly scathing:

  • “Three of the daft mad bastards who supported the motion are publicans – they’re not suggesting this for the goodness of their community.”
  • “A few drinks never hurt anyone. If the Healy-Raes were from Dublin they would be national heroes. They are the life blood of Kerry.”
  • "These Healy-Raes really are a bunch of rednecks, bog trotters and hillbillies all rolled into one. Only a total flat-capped-wearing-shillelagh-swinging gombeen would come up with such a nonsense.”

rvaughan@nbr.co.nz

 

 

 

 

 

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