'Nobody caused a fatality after just three glasses of Guinness' - Healy-Rae

TD's comments 'a kick in the teeth', say parents of crash victim

TD Danny Healy-Rae, pictured pulling pints in Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, has been criticised for his comments on drink driving. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Laura Lynott and Paul Melia

The parents of a child killed by a drink-driver have hit out at TD Danny Healy-Rae following his controversial claims that "nobody in my neck of the woods has caused a fatality after three glasses of Guinness".

Ciaran Treacy (4) was killed when Finbarr O'Rourke smashed into the car his mother Gillian was driving near Portlaoise, Co Laois, on Holy Thursday in 2014.

Ciaran's mother said: "I am furious - this attitude hurts me even more because it's like it's 'okay' that our son was killed by a drunk.

"It's scientifically proven that one drink impairs driving and he has the cheek to say three glasses is 'no harm'.

"I wonder if he had to visit his child's grave every day, knowing that a drunk had killed him/her, would he change his attitude?"

She said Mr Healy-Rae was making a "mockery" of the work the RSA does day-in-day-out all year round to keep road deaths down.

She added that after hearing the TD's comments, it was "a kick in the teeth" after opening up her private family home to work on the advertisement to help keep Ireland's roads safe.

Ciaran's father Ronan said he wanted the TD to visit their home.

Gillian and Ronan Treacy with a photo of their son Ciaran

"I want Danny Healy-Rae to come to sit in my home for 24 hours to see the loss left behind since losing Ciaran.

"I watched my wife struggle to get back to walking properly and I see the loss across my children's faces.

"Danny Healy-Rae is thinking of the next election with this statement and he's incredibly selfish for that.

"It's totally irresponsible for an elected TD to stand up in the Dáil and say such a thing."

A new Bill allows for drivers caught with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to be hit with an automatic disqualification of three months, instead of the current €200 fine and three penalty points.

Figures provided to the Dáil Transport Committee revealed that 613 drivers last year were hit with penalty points for this offence, and more than 500 in each of the previous three years.

There is no proposal to reduce the current drink-driving limit of 50mg per 100ml of blood to 20mg for professional and novice drivers.

But Mr Healy-Rae questioned how statistics are compiled for alcohol-related deaths.

He added: "I don't believe that the person drinking one pint or a pint and a glass or three glasses... because in rural Ireland that was their only option for the last number of years... the old man or the single man or a single lady.

"The only outlet they had was to come to the pub and have the three glasses and I can tell you they drove home carefully and they haven't been the cause of the accidents you're talking about. And I can assure you that," he said.

More than 600 motorists could be put off the road every year if new legislation to automatically ban those found to be over the drink-drive limit is enacted. Transport Minister Shane Ross accused publicans of "cynically" lobbying against the proposal, saying it would help save lives in rural Ireland.

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