Families of victims of road traffic collisions have backed proposals by the Minister for Tranpsort which would automatically ban anyone over the legal drink-driving limit.  

Road safety groups met Shane Ross today to show their support for the proposed changes at the launch of the Road Traffic Amendment Bill.

The minister said the aim of the bill is to increase road safety and decrease road deaths.

The campaign will continue in the coming weeks to ensure the bill is passed through the Dáil after the summer recess, Mr Ross said.

He called on vintners "to get off the pitch" and support the bill.

He also called on Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and his party, which has indicated that it will oppose the bill, to back it.

"I know his heart is in the right place on issues of this sort, and I can't understand why Micheál Martin and [Fianna Fáil spokesperson on transport] Robert Troy and others are opposing a measure which will undoubtedly save lives, so we are looking for their support, and we will be campaigning to get the support of many more people in the Dáil than we have at the moment."

Mr Ross acknowledged that he did not know if he would get the support of all members of the Independent Alliance.

He said it is a matter for the Fine Gael parliamentary party if it allows TDs to have a free vote on the issue.

Ann Fogarty, from the PARC road safety group, lost her husband Edmund in a collision, and was seriously herself injured in the crash.

She was one of 20 people at today's meeting with the minister, who are related to road traffic victims, or were victims themselves.

"People were very angry in there today because we feel that we are not being listened to; the lives of our relatives are not being valued by those TDs who want to vote against this bill."

She said independent TD Danny Healy Rae is afraid to go on air and debate the issue with people like her, who are strong on road safety.

She said she will not in any way engage with Mr Healy Rae because "it is only giving him air time which he does not deserve".

Gillian Treacy, who lost her son Ciaran in a crash involving a drunk driver, also called for support for the change in law. The Treacy family headed the Road Safety Authority's Christmas campaign to drive home the message of the devastation that drink driving causes. She said it has been a huge insult in recent weeks to see the opposition to the bill. "It really is an insult to my little boy, losing him, and my injuries, and all other people who have lost people due to drink driving."

Minister Ross also announced that in future, an advocate representing road safety groups will sit on the board of the Road Safety Authority.

A spokesperson for Mr Martin said: "Fianna Fáil is against drink-driving. We were the Party that made it an offence to drive with over 50mg of alcohol and we also introduced random breath testing.

"We believe that enforcement of the current laws is crucial. It must be reiterated repeatedly that it is illegal to drive, at present, with over 50mg of alcohol.

"The current situation where we have a depleted traffic corps, despite promises to increase the numbers, is also not helping and this needs to be urgently corrected.

"Proportionality is important and Fianna Fáil will be tabling amendments when the bill is going through Committee Stage in the Dáil in the autumn."