Gaybo hits back at critics

Embattled roads safety tzar Gay Byrne today defended himself amid calls for his resignation.

The veteran broadcaster, who heads up the Road Safety Authority, came under pressure this week to stand down after a shocking wave of fatal car crashes.

Some 12 people died on the roads during a 48-hour period between Sunday and Tuesday.

But the former Late Late Show presenter, appointed to the top role in March, insisted today the authority was making progress.

“We are not even legally in existence yet,” he said. “But already we have done a fair bit of work and we have a dedicated staff.

“I would remind people that as from now, today, for example, random breath testing is part of the legislation, it is in and it’s up to the Garda Síochana now to enforce that as from today.”

Earlier this week, Declan Corbett of the Corbett Court Hotel in Co Cork, who employed two of the young victims killed on the roads this week, called on Mr Byrne to resign his post.

“It is Gay Byrne’s problem,” he said at the time.

“He shouldn’t have been given this job. This is the typical (case of) 'Dublin 4 jobs for the boys'.

“A job like that should be given to somebody in rural Ireland, somebody like Sean Óg O hAilpín that the young people of Ireland will look up to.

“Sean Óg is a role model on and off the field. I’m asking Gay Byrne to do the decent thing and resign,” he said.

The call for leading role models to join in the fight against the mounting losses was echoed today by Dun Laoghaire TD, Barry Andrews.

Top figures from the world of sport, music and the arts should be employed to engage with and educate teenagers, the Ógra Fianna Fáil chairperson said.

“While senior gardaí, road safety chiefs and politicians may have good intentions in warning young drivers about the dangers of the road their message seems to be coming across as a lecture rather than life saving advice,” he said.

“It is important in light of the continuing tragedies that we now re-examine how we are conveying the message.”

Mr Andrews proposed each county should have a road safety ambassador to engage with young people rather than lecture them.

“The ambassadors would visit schools and clubs to meet young people planning to learn to drive and those who have just recently started driving,” he said.

“It is clear that we must re-examine the way we are delivering the road safety message to young drivers and I believe that by engaging with teenagers and those in their early twenties we will achieve more and help save lives.”

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