Varadkar and Healy-Rae clash over young driver changes

Updated / Wednesday, 8 Nov 2017 16:20

The Taoiseach told the Dail that of the 13 learner drivers who have been killed so far this year, 11 were driving alone.

Of the 13 young people with learner driver permits who have died on the roads so far in 2017, 11 of them were driving unaccompanied, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil.

His comments came as the Government was accused of "criminalising ordinary decent young people" under new proposals to prosecute car owners who permit learner drivers to use vehicles unaccompanied.

During Order of Business in the Dáil this afternoon, Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae, said: "At a time when there are is considerable waiting times for tests you are criminalising ordinary decent young people, who want to get educated, who are trying to go to work.

"You are talking about people getting up in the morning. These are young students who are trying to go to work to better themselves and pay for their education."

The Taoiseach replied: "even unaccompanied learner drivers have died on Irish roads in 2017; they might be alive today if they had been accompanied.

Mr Healy-Rae continued: "You are hurting these people and people who don't have a public transport facility in their area. They have to use the mother or father's car or an uncle or aunt's car.

"How did you come along with this announcement yesterday out of the blue? You made this announcement on a day when the trains were not going, that you are going to criminalise ordinary, decent respectable people."

Mr Varadkar said that the measures are being brought forward as an amendment to the Road Traffic Bill. He said it was approved by Cabinet yesterday.

He added: "13 people, mainly young men and young women, who have learner permits dies on our roads so far this year. Of the 13 young men and women who died on our roads so far this year, 11 of them were driving unaccompanied.

"Perhaps if they had complied with the law and been accompanied, they would still be alive today."