THE new drink-driving laws that come into force today have been branded a major blow for rural Ireland, which will lead to the closure of up to half the pubs in the country.
Kerry County Council member, Bobby O’Connell, who owns and runs a public house in Castleisland, said vintners are convinced that up to 50% of all pubs will be forced to shut down within the next five years.
The new legislation cuts the blood alcohol limit to 50mg per 100mls of blood and Cllr O’Connell said just one drink could edge some people over the legal limit.
“Rural pubs are being decimated. The recession and the off-licence trade have done irreparable damage to the pub trade and now we have this,” he said.
Fine Gael Cllr O’Connell said that people living in rural areas, particularly the elderly, are now in total isolation as they are living in fear of socialising in the local pub.
“It’s very sad. How many crashes in rural areas are related to drink? Most accidents happen on national primary routes where speeds are very high.
“The fella sipping two or three pints in rural areas are driving home at normal speeds and they don’t bother anybody.”
A Kerry Garda spokesman has warned that the new laws will be vigorously enforced.
“The easiest way to avoid detection is not to drink and drive,” said Sergeant Kieran O’Connell of the Tralee Traffic Corps.
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