Councillors in Kerry in south-west Ireland have backed a plan to relax the drink-drive limit for some isolated residents (BBC News).
The motion was passed on Monday afternoon by five votes to three, with seven abstentions – though according to TheJournal.ie news website, 12 councillors were absent for the vote which took place "towards the end of a long meeting".
The BBC News report says that a number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly pub owners, but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote.
Mr Healy-Rae said the people he thought could apply for the permits "are living in isolated rural areas where there’s no public transport of any kind, and they end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don’t want to take the risk of losing their licence".
He added: “I see the merit in having a stricter rule of law for when there’s a massive volume of traffic and where there’s busy roads with massive speed. But on the roads I’m talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it’s not a big deal. I don’t see any big issue with it."
The council will now call on the justice department to implement the change.
The move was condemned by Terry O’Brien, mayor of Kerry, who told Irish broadcaster RTE: “It is incredibly dangerous. I don’t know how anybody can be allowed to say: ‘You’ve had two pints, so you’re justified to drive’. I don’t know what expertise one would have to look at someone in a bar to give them a permit to drive a car after any alcohol.”
Conor Cullen, of Alcohol Action Ireland, told the BBC: “Almost one in three crash deaths in Ireland is alcohol-related. Even in small amounts, alcohol impairs driving ability – any amount of alcohol increases the risk of involvement in a fatal crash.”
He said tougher measures against drink-driving in Ireland over recent years had seen road deaths fall by 42% between 2008 and 2012.
Click here to read the full BBC News report.