Updated: 20/12/17 : 06:06:51
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Fallout over TD's drink driving comments continues

The fallout continues over the comments by Sligo -Leitrim Fianna Fáil TD Eamon Scanlon who stated that he believed motorists should be allowed "one or two drinks" before driving and that Irish drink-driving laws "excessive" compared to our European counterparts. See Link (i) below.

Outrage has been expressed by one Sligo resident whose wife died in an accident caused by a drunk driver.

James Mounsey lost his wife Karen in a head-on collision on the lethal stretch of the N4 at Drumfin near Riverstown in Sligo in August 2010, which also left him seriously injured. See link (ii) below.

The tragic accident happened just a few miles from Mr Scanlon's constituency office in nearby Ballymote.

Sligo Circuit Court heard at the time that driver Aisling Cummins had 148mg of alcohol to 100ml of blood (the then-legal limit was 80mg), reports Independent.ie.

Ms Cummins was given a five-year jail term, with two and a half years suspended, and was banned from driving for 20 years. See link (iii) below.

James Mounsey criticised Deputy Scanlon's comments and said that he feels people shouldn't be allowed to drink alcohol before they get behind the wheel.

Speaking on Lunchtime News on Ocean FM, he said: "The law is the law and I don't think it should be altered.

"In some ways I feel that you should be allowed no drink at all to drive a car, in a way I feel it would be better if you were allowed none, end of story.

"Just think of what happens to a family when it happens to them and then re-think what you've said."

Mr Mounsey, pictured left, has also spoken candidly about the devastating impact the crash had on his family's lives.

He said: "I can see a point of view where people say that at a certain time of the year it (drink-driving laws) should be relaxed and I can sympathise with that in a way but I'm sorry, it causes too much havoc for families.

"It (the car accident) closed down two businesses and put two children out of work because they couldn't go back to the situation as it was.

"One of them had to go to a job because they couldn't get one here.

"I'm physically disabled after the crash, I can't walk more than 100 yards and then I can't breathe properly, if I go any further then I have to use a stick occasionally, I'm registered disabled."

The new Road Traffic Bill is aiming to crackdown on drink-driving and anyone caught driving with a blood alcohol limit of between 50mg and 80mg per 100ml will be automatically given a three month driving ban.

Speaking on Ocean FM on Sunday, Deputy Scanlon hit out at the proposed new regulations, branding them "very wrong".

"We have a lot of elderly people living in rural areas, honest, hard-working decent people who never did anything wrong to anybody and wouldn't do anything wrong, they help their neighbours and everything else," he said.

"For a lot of these people the only place they'll ever go and the only person they meet except the postman is the local publican, where they can go for a game of cards or whatever.

"And we're going to make criminals of these people and I think it's very, very wrong.

"If you look at the statistics today, eight out of 10 fatalities are between 100 and 200mg, these are the people that we should be targeting, not the person who goes out to their local to have a drink and converse with their neighbour."

Fianna Fáil have yet to issue a statement on Mr Scanlon's remarks.

Link: (i) Sligo Today 18/12/2107 (ii) Sligo Today 28/8/10  and (iii) Sligo Today 17/5/2013