Mother hits out at delay in reforming drink-drive laws

Christina Donnelly: Son was killed by a drink driver.

A crusading mother whose son was killed by a drink driver has criticised the Government for delays implementing her proposals for longer jail terms for people convicted of drink driving causing death.

Road safety campaigner Christina Donnelly, whose son, Brendan, 24, and his friend, Lee Salkeld, were killed in Cork in 2009, has also called for more resources for Garda road traffic enforcement following a surge in road deaths this year.

She was speaking at the launch of a five-year road safety strategy for Cork city and county, which came after a day of carnage on the nation’s roads.

The deaths of Nicola Kenny on the M8, a day after she gave birth, and of a cyclist in Dublin, brought to 125 the number of deaths on Irish roads so far this year — a 20% increase compared with the same period last year.

Ms Donnelly said she was saddened to see road fatalities on the rise and said the Government must respond.

But she said drivers must also be held accountable for their actions, especially in the case of drink or drug drivers.

Within a year of Brendan’s death, Ms Donnelly began campaigning for changes in the law.

Her Brendan’s Law proposal calls for drink drivers convicted of causing death to be put off the road until they appear before the courts, for a minimum six- to nine-year jail sentence upon conviction, with no early release for good behaviour, and for a 20 to 25-year driving ban, followed by a driving test and alcohol awareness courses.

Ms Donnelly said that politicians, including the Taoiseach, looked her in the eye and promised Brendan’s Law would be introduced.

“But I feel disillusioned at the slow pace of progress,” she said.

“I am tired of ‘thank you for your correspondence’ emails. I want a date and a time for when this will become law.”

She is due to meet Transport Minister Shane Ross in the coming weeks in a bid to ensure Brendan’s Law is signed into law during the current Dáil term.


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