Discretion for rural L Plate drivers is urgently needed – McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Transport Pascal Donohue to investigate ways to alleviate the disproportionate impact that will be felt by those in rural Ireland who must comply with new penalty points regulations. Deputy McGrath was speaking as the Minister is set to introduce emergency legislation aimed at preventing legal loopholes in the Road Traffic Act 2014 from taking effect:

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“I have asked the Minister what, if any, analysis has been carried out by his Department in terms of the social impact of this legislation.

This is not a matter of one law for the city and another law for the town or the village.

It is about being pragmatic enough to realise that the availability of public transport differs significantly between rural and urban settings.

We cannot treat both types of situations equally.

The family car or the first car for a person living in rural Ireland is of enormous social value in terms of preventing isolation and encouraging employment in nearby urban centres.

The strict application of this law by the Minister and the Gardaí will have disproportionate and punitive outcomes for rural people; and in that sense it is unjust and unreasonable.

I am sure that there must be some statutory mechanism whereby we can allow those living in rural areas far more discretion that those in urban populations.

We have to be imaginative about this and get over the fantasy, for now at least, that public transport options are the same all over the country.

If we can accept that fact then a fairer and more flexible regulatory regime can be put in place.

The alternative is to allow for the situation to continue whereby families are placed under huge strain in trying to accommodate the travel needs of young adults in particular” concluded Deputy McGrath.