Transport Minister Shane Ross has lashed out at Government and opposition critics of his hard-line drink-driving laws, insisting he will ensure the law is implemented fully despite the “extraordinary opposition in some quarters”.
Mr Ross criticised Fine Gael ministers, ex-Independent Alliance colleague Sean Canney and Independent TD Mattie McGrath after being accused of making gardaí conduct more drink-driving checks instead of chasing “real” criminals.
At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Ross was attacked by a number of Fine Gael ministers, with one minister saying the checkpoints clampdown is “over the top”.
The view was repeated yesterday by junior minister and ex-Independent Alliance TD, Sean Canney, who told Newstalk Breakfast show that “Joe Public is feeling persecuted” and that only “the ordinary person going to work is being pulled in — it is annoying”.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath similarly told radio station C103’s Cork Today show with JP McNamara that he believes the Government should put more resources into fighting rural crime instead of breathalyser checks.
Claiming that “people going to Mass on a Sunday morning” and others taking their children to school or going to work are being unfairly targeted, Mr McGrath said gardaí and Mr Ross should “cop on”.
However, in a statement to the Irish Examiner, Transport Minister Shane Ross insists he is putting the lives of people first: “I will absolutely defend the drink-driving campaign to save lives and the gardaí who enforce the law.
“I will continue to do this despite the extraordinary opposition in some quarters.”
Mr Ross was strongly supported yesterday by a number of groups representing families whose relatives have died or suffered severe injuries due to accidents involving drink-drivers.
They include Irish Road Victims Association’s Leo Lieghio, who told The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk that the new laws “absolutely could have” saved his daughter Marsia’s life if they had been enacted in previous years.