New drink-drive limit “ripping the heart out of rural Ireland”
This follows similar statements by several other coroners including Donegal coroners Dr Denis McCauley and Dr John Madden as well as coroners in the midlands and border regions.
The VFI firmly believes that the further reduction in drink-driving limits from 80mg to 50mg/100ml recently has had an enormous and devastating psychological impact on those living in rural communities. Those who once went to the local pub for one or two drinks and social interaction no longer feel they can do so and this is compounded by the complete absence of rural transport, it claims.
While the VFI does not advocate drink-driving and is in favour of measures which will reduce road carnage, it’s calling for assistance from the Government to help put an end to rural isolation. The VFI believes that certain measures will help with this ever-increasing problem in rural Ireland.
“For the last number of years we argued that a further reduction in drink-driving limits from 80mg to 50mg would only serve to cause more rural isolation,” stated VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “We believe then and still believe that there was no balance in the discussion around drink-driving. The Irish research this decision was predicated on was totally flawed and even misleading in places.
“Our strongly-held views have been backed up time-and-again by several different coroners from Kerry to Donegal.
“As recently as last November we highlighted the issue of the total lack of any rural transport. Without any rural transport and with these draconian drink-driving rules, people have no other choice but to stay at home. Publicans should be exempt from VAT and VRT on all new seven- and nine-seat vehicles to reflect the reality that publicans are acting as de facto taxi drivers in rural Ireland and to encourage this practice which may go some way to alleviating rural isolation.”
VFI President Gerry Mellett added, “Older men living on their own in particular in rural Ireland are like prisoners in their homes. I’m not saying the pub is the only social outlet but for many it is a vital one. The impact of these drink-driving rules has been to rip the heart out of rural Ireland and as more pubs close every day, this will only get worse. We are not in favour of drunk-driving and we feel this stricter legislation will only lead to fear and more rural isolation.”