The Government, and particularly Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey,  seem determined to annoy the majority of the population by reducing the permitted blood alcohol limit for drivers from 80m milligrams to 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.  So as usual we get more legislation, when what we need is better enforcement of existing laws.  This contrasts sharply with the UK, where the Government sensibly opted for applying resources to law enforcement rather than reducing the limit from 80mg to 50mg.

The adverse social effects of the proposed change will be enormous, particularly in rural areas, and are simply not outweighed by potential savings in road deaths or injuries.  There is no evidence that any such savings exist to any material extent.

In an earlier post on this topic, I said:

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Your correspondent has covertly obtained secret guidelines issued to members of the Gardaí who are charged with enforcing speed limits on Irish roads.  When asked to comment on these shocking revelations, published here for the first time, the Garda Press Office declined to comment.

  1. Thou shalt not set up speed traps on country roads which are genuinely dangerous, for narrow or winding roads are far too dangerous for the safety of law enforcers, and in any event fewer people will be caught which verily is bad for business.
  2. Thou shalt always set up speed traps on wide, straight roads where motorists will be genuinely surprised at how low the limit is.
  3. Read the rest of this entry »

 We shouldn’t be overly surprised at the revelations of flagrant abuse of taxpayers’ money by the Ceann Comhairle, John O’Donoghue.   There is a pattern and a context.

For instance, cast your mind back to the year 2000, and the alleged speeding of O’Donoghue’s state car (he was then Minister for Justice).   After the incident, O’Donoghue told the Dáil the car had been stopped for travelling at 86mph (138km/h), but he was not in it at the time. (Reports at the time suggested speeds of up to 115 mph were involved.)  He said the car had been carrying his wife, children and a family friend who were returning from the All-Ireland hurling final. 

The focus at the time was rightly on the alleged breaking of the speed limit, but a subsidiary issue is the taxpayer rip-off involved in this “jolly” for the Minister’s family.  Most politicians in most normal democratic countries wouldn’t dream of doing this, but for some reason Fianna Fáil don’t see anything wrong with such behaviour.  And our collective failure to keep them honest, whether through the media or through the ballot box, ensures that such behaviour will persist.

klep·toc·ra·cy  (Pronunciation: \klep-ˈtä-krə-sē\ ) : government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed ; also : a particular government of this kind

The fact that publicans are lobbying against the proposed drop in the permissable blood alcohol level for motorists does not necessarily mean, even to a cynic, that the proposal is a Good Thing.

The adverse social effects of the proposed change (from 80 mg to 50mg/ml blood) are significant, particularly in rural areas, and are not outweighed by potential savings in road deaths or injuries.  There is no evidence that any such savings exist to any material extent.

Despite what you may think, in recent years the number of deaths on our roads has fallen significantly, and we are now one of the safest countries in this respect.  Read the rest of this entry »