A man who lost his wife and daughter in a fatal road crash has said he does not feel sorry for the unaccompanied learner driver involved in the collision, and said he was ‘flabbergasted’ at opposition to a new traffic law that would punish motorists who allow their vehicle to be used by an unsupervised driver on a learner permit.
As it stands, drivers on a learner permit who drive unaccompanied can face a fine, but there is no deterrent in place for the owner of a car who allows a learner driver to operate the vehicle on their own.
However, under a proposed legislation change, the owners of cars driven by an unsupervised driver on a learner permit will also face punishment.
Noel Clancy, from Kilworth Co Cork, has campaigned for such a change to the law since his wife Geraldine Clancy, 58, and their daughter Louise, 22, were killed in a crash involving an unaccompanied learner driver on December 22, 2015.
Susan Gleeson, the learner driver, was driving her father’s car at the time and subsequently received a three year suspended prison sentence and a 15-year driving ban for dangerous driving.
Speaking to Patricia Messinger on C103’s Cork Today Show, Mr Clancy said that as someone who lives in rural Ireland, he understands how people will be discommoded by having to sit with their children as they learn to drive, but that it is necessary and that parents need to get up earlier in the day if necessary.
He said he never allowed his children drive unaccompanied, and has no sympathy for Ms Gleeson.
“I do not feel sorry for her. There were three or four laws Susan Gleeson broke that day before she killed Louise and Geraldine.
“Susan Gleeson and her father made a decision that day for her to drive unaccompanied. And that decision, by her father, cost Geraldine and Louise their lives, it made a widower out of me, and it made a criminal out of his own daughter.
"The law applied to the Gleeson family the same as it applied to the Clancy family. If the Clancy family weren’t willing to allow their children drive unaccompanied, why were the Gleeson family doing it?”
Mr Clancy said his life has completely changed since he lost his wife and daughter, that his successful farm partnership has come to an end, he has lost his faith, and has stopped going to Mass.
“To lose a child under any circumstances, but to lose your life partner at the same time, it is indescribable. I can’t put it into words.”
Mr Clancy said he was surprised at the opposition to his calls for changes to the law.
“It was illegal for an unaccompanied learner driver to drive yesterday, it’s illegal today, and it will be illegal when this law comes into place.
"This isn’t changing anything, this is about changing the law as regards to car owners,” Mr Clancy said.
He said he was faced with two choices in the aftermath of Ms Gleeson’s trial — either slip out the back of the court-house or face the media.
“I chose to go out the front door and face the national media because I knew with the publicity around the case, that I could harness that to try and change the law to try make sure that no other parents, no other family, would go through with what we would go through,” he said.