Three women whose lives were shattered by road tragedies have been honoured for devoting their lives to improving road safety.
Elber Twomey and Paula Murphy, both from Cork, and Lisa Marie Maher, from Dublin, were presented with Victims’ Voice Awards at the Irish Road Victims Association (IRVA) awards ceremony at the weekend.
Ms Twomey’s entire family — her young son, Oisín, husband Connie, and unborn daughter, Elber Marie — all died as a result of an horrific crash in Devon just over four years ago, when a suicidal taxi driver who was being pursued by police swerved head-on into their car as they returned from a family holiday.
“Despite her great personal tragedy and pain, Elber has gone on to raise awareness of suicidal drivers and the need for specialised training of gardaí and police forces in how they deal with and handle people with mental health issues or who may be at risk of suicide,” IRVA founder and chairperson Donna Price said.
Ms Murphy lost her daughter, Amanda, when the defective car she was driving was involved in a crash near Cobh, Co Cork, in December 2012.
Ms Murphy has campaigned relentlessly for changes to, and improvements in the NCT testing regime, particularly as they relate to vehicle suspension and shock absorber systems.
“Drivers are now being made more aware of these shortcomings in the NCT test, due in no small way to Paula’s efforts,” Ms Price said.
“It’s vital that drivers have their vehicles mechanically inspected regularly so as to ensure that they are in a safe condition to drive. They should not rely on an NCT certificate for that assurance.”
Ms Maher’s father, Eugene, was killed in a hit-and-run in Dublin a year ago.
Mr Maher, a cyclist, was using a pedestrian crossing when a motorist, who was disqualified at the time, and who had no licence or insurance, ran a red light, mowed him down, and fled the scene. His funeral was delayed for six weeks until the driver came forward, in case his defence requested a second autopsy.
Ms Price said despite the devastating impact her father’s death has had on the family, Lisa Marie has been a shining light in her efforts to raise awareness in her dad’s memory, appearing in several TV interviews.
“Lisa Marie continues to relay her family’s story in her efforts to raise awareness of the devastation caused, despite her huge personal loss and grief, and that of her family.”
The IRVA also recognised the Irish Examiner’s Michael Clifford for his coverage of the penalty points scandal, and Garda whistleblower, Maurice McCabe, was presented with IRVA’s Ambassador of the Year award for speaking out about the penalty points scandal.
The Road Safety Authority’s Maggie Martin was honoured for research into serious injury and fatal collisions, while Deirdre Sinnott McFeat, of the Health and Safety Authority, was recognised for ‘Driving to Work’ programme which promotes safe practice for commercial drivers.
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