Friday, 8 February 2008

Donie Cassidy urges shift to right.

What does the Fianna Fail leader of that inherently undemocratic body, the Seanad (Senate), do to justify his existence? Not much, it seems, other than blame non-Irish nationals for the deaths on our roads. Yes, it would appear that we Paddies were paragons of good, considerate, safe and sober driving until the foreigners arrived, dragging our standards down into the nearest 'R'-road ditch. Never mind the fact that there are a frightening number of Irish drivers who have never passed a test - including many with full licences who received them in a Fianna Fail amnesty during the 70s.

Donie - for it is he - has called for a speed limit of 80km/h to be imposed on foreign drivers. "I think that there should be a speed limit of [80km/h] put on anyone coming from another country that are (sic) going to use our roads, particularly from destinations (sic) where they are driving on the opposite side of the road". When this selective approach to traffic enforcement - which Gombeen Man is sure may be contrary to the spirit of the EU - was challenged, Donie's retort was emphatic in its unashamed simplicity: "The colour of your skin does not matter if you're dead".

Presumably in a spirit of international and racial reconciliation, Donie went on to suggest that "Maybe in time we should have a look here in Ireland at the possibility of changing and driving on the other side of the road." Stop there, Donie, enough!

Gombeen man presumes that German drivers, despite their generally fair skin, would be hit by the former showband man's new law - though 60-odd percent of their motorways have no speed limit, and their road deaths per head are fewer than ours. He also suggests that the authorities devote more time to reducing road deaths by tackling the real causes: poor roads, drink-driving, an aversion to seat-belts, lack of footpaths in rural areas, and generally bad driving.

Interestingly, road deaths have actually been on a steady downward trend over the years (despite what some media hysteria would have you believe), and some of the credit for this is due to car makers' improved safety features. Included among these are airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. The latter option, by the way, is only available as an option on some Irish cars - despite the fact that it is a proven safety feature, as it can prevent a vehicle skidding out of control in critical situations. Why? Because the Irish Government applies its punitive VRT tax even to potentially life-saving automotive technology.

It would be interesting to hear Donie Cassidy's views on that.

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