INCREASING penalties for drink driving saw Shane Ross being slammed in pubs and by publicans all over the country, but the man himself denies the changes to legislation were unpopular in rural Ireland.
Speaking to The Clare Champion last week about the reaction he had received, the Dublin TD said, “One thing I think you’re mistaken about it, it wasn’t unpopular in rural areas. We did we did a lot of sampling on it. It was approved of in rural areas and very strongly approved of in rural areas.
“Vested interest in rural areas and some TDs were very, very loud against it. But the sampling, the polling that we did on it or the RSA did on it, was very much in favour. In fact, it was more popular in rural areas than it was in urban areas.”
He said the drinks industry had exaggerated the level of opposition and had been supported by certain politicians. “On top of that you had a lot of very, very loud TDs, under pressure from the publicans who came out against it very, very strongly. But actually the people on the ground were not against it. So that’s the misconception.
“Now there were people in rural areas who were badly affected by it, whose social life revolves around the pub, and that’s a very good thing in most cases. We have done quite a lot to actually to try and relieve their lot a bit. You know, we’ve run special buses, as you probably know, 63 new routes around the country, which which have been very, very successful.
“We’re also looking at all sorts of new systems of seeing how people can get get home. New cab systems, taxi systems to do that as well. We’re going to try and relieve those who have been adversely affected but we’re not going to compromise on the issue of drink driving at all, there’s no question about that, it’s the big killer. That’s the end of story I’m afraid.
“I’m well aware of the controversy, nobody would be more aware of it than I am, but there couldn’t ever have been any compromise on that and there won’t be.”