McDaid shuns FF party line

REBEL TD Jim McDaid has strayed even further from Fianna Fáil by backing a road safety group that is lobbying the Government to overhaul drink and drug-testing laws for drivers.

After ignoring party orders this week to back the withdrawal of a planned cancer vaccination programme for schoolgirls, the dissident politician has chosen to further prick the sides of the embattled coalition Government.

Mr McDaid has joined a number of opposition party politicians backing a campaign led by the group PARC to change the laws on the testing of drivers involved in road accidents.

The former minister agreed to publicly back the group this week, said PARC’s founder, Susan Gray.

In a statement released yesterday, PARC said it was eager to see the Government press ahead with a new Road Traffic Bill, which includes compulsory testing at collision scenes and the lowering of the drink-drive limit.

The statement was endorsed by politicians from opposition parties like Sinn Féin and Fine Gael as well as Mr McDaid himself.

“TDs here in Donegal are now publicly backing us, including Dr Jim McDaid. It will help to move our issues along in the Dáil and comes at a very appropriate time,” said Ms Gray.

Mr McDaid lost the Fianna Fáil whip after abstaining on a vote on Wednesday on the Government’s decision to withdraw the planned cervical cancer vaccine programme next year.

Despite Fianna Fáil hopes the rebel TD might support the Government on other measures and votes, it looks unlikely. When contacted yesterday, the Donegal TD said he could not comment at the time.

Mr McDaid was convicted of drink driving in late 2005 after he was spotted driving on the wrong side of the road after leaving Punchestown racecourse, outside Naas.

Meanwhile, tomorrow marks World Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims.

The Road Safety Authority has asked drivers to use the day not only as a way of remembering loved ones killed on roads but also as a time to check their own driving behaviour.

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