Transport Minister Shane Ross was accused of “picking your nose” and “not listening” to rural TDs during a debate on his Road Traffic Bill.
Mr Ross was seeking to introduce a “dictatorship” aimed at destroying rural Ireland in the bill tightening drink-driving laws, which was branded as “rushed, ill-judged, and doomed to failure”.
“You are picking your nose and not listening to us rural TDs, minister. You are refusing to engage with us, with the ordinary people,” said Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath.
A small number of rural TDs have consistently opposed the bill, and were vocal in their criticism last night.
Mr McGrath called on Mr Ross to withdraw comments in which he accused him and his colleagues of behaving like “road traffic terrorists”.
“I call on the minister calmly, coolly, and collectively to reflect on that and have the dignity and good grace to withdraw it,” he said.
“We are annoyed at your ill-tempered language. I heard you on Morning Ireland using disparaging language about us.”
Earlier, some members of the Rural Alliance called a vote on the passage of a separate bill, the Radiological Bill, in what was seen as a means of delaying the debate of the Road Traffic Bill.
When the vote was ordered, there were less than 10 TDs opposing the bill’s passage and therefore the bill passed.
Currently, anyone with a full licence caught driving with an alcohol level between 50mg and 80mg can receive three penalty points on their licence and a €200 fine.
However, the bill will see an automatic disqualification for drivers on their first offence of driving while over the permitted 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Last week, Mr Ross lashed out at the group of rural TDs for attempting to block the bill’s passage.
“I’d take this opportunity to appeal to Danny Healy-Rae and his gang to stop the filibuster,” he said.
“They’re behaving like road traffic terrorists —there’s a kind of guerilla warfare going on and it’s costing lives. I appeal to those very, very few people left opposing this legislation in the Dáil to pass the bill.”
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