Rural TD opposition to draconian road traffic laws empowering seizure of cars driven by learner drivers

Drivers consuming half-a-pint to be banned from the road.

Passage of Ross’s Bill lashed as ‘a sad day for rural Ireland.’

Sligo News File.

A move by a group of rural TDs to delay a perceived anti-rural road traffic Bill has been blocked by Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and other Dail deputies.

Minister for Transport Ross

The Bill, which was guided through the Dail by Dublin-based Minister Shane Ross, will result in drivers consuming half a pint being automatically put off the road.

Under the same measures, cars of parents in rural areas who allow the use of the vehicle by a son or daughter driving alone without a full licence to get to work will be seized and both the driver and car owner prosecuted. The car might be the family’s only vehicle, meaning the whole rural family will be left without any transport for conveying children to school, hospital appointments and many other regular family activities.

Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice, Michael Lowry, Clare Daly and Michael Collins and Mick Wallace were the only deputies to oppose the draconian law. Although their opposition was hotly criticised by many other TDs, some of the eight protested at length about the impact the new laws would have on rural dwellers who, unlike Dublin residents, don’t have ready access to public transport.

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rea

Michael Healy-Rae to his credit also highlighted the backlog of young people left waiting for a driving test and the government’s shameful failure to curb the astronomical cost of insurance cover.

“This is a sad day for rural Ireland,” he said after the vote on the new road law was declared.

Mayo constituency Fianna deputies Dara Calleary(Ballina) and Lisa Chambers (Castlebar) voted for the new law. Michael Ring and Enda Kenny, both Fine Gael, are not named on the list of those who voted. Sligo-Leitrim TDs Tony McLoughlin (Fine Gael) and Martin Kenny (Sinn Fein) supported the Bill. Fianna Fail deputies Marc MacSharry and Eamon Scanlon are not on the list of TDs voting for or against the law.

Government partners, Fianna Fail, are also moving a Dail Bill aimed at compelling rural and other householders to show that turf and briquettes found on their premises have been obtained from a State registered trader.

The proposed law, contained in the Sale of Illicit Goods Bill 2017, will make it illegal for householders to procure turf, coal, tobacco and alcohol from what the Bill describes as “unregistered” sources.

The Fianna Fail Bill describes peat briquettes, sod peat and coal as solid fuels. Under the pending legislation, penalties will be slapped on families who procure the fuels through other than registered outlets.

Under the legislation, inspectors will have the power to enter on private property without the consent of the owners and go through sheds and other premises on the holding to check than fuels and other stored goods have been obtained from an approved source. Receipts and other documentation will have to be retained by householders, and produced to inspectors as evidence of the legitimacy of purchases and payments of applicable taxes.

Meanwhile, the price of electricity is to be hiked to a new record high.

Electric Ireland has announced a 6.2% increase in rates. It comes just a few months after a previous rise 4%. Residential gas prices are set to soar by a phenomenal 8%.

The escalation in price is estimated to add more than €60 to the average annual electricity bill and about €55 to the average annual gas bill.

A standing charge – higher for rural areas – PSO levy and VAT are additional to the electricity charges. A higher amount of VAT will be payable on the increased charge.

Last month, Varadkar, the Taoiseach, revealed that briquettes, home heating oil, petrol and diesel are also to be targeted with a hike in carbon levies. Fuels and materials used in agriculture and transport are also destined to rocket as the increase in carbon levies come into play.

“It’s our job to protect our planet and make it healthy and great again,” Varadkar told a gathering in Dublin. “We want to hand over stewardship of our planet to our grandchildren in a much better state then we left it.

“The transition to a low carbon world will require profound changes in how we live our lives.”

It will also mean “carbon pricing and increases in the carbon tax,” he said.