Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to immediately suspend proposals to increase the severity of penalties for unaccompanied L Plate drivers. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Cabinet agreed to amend the Road Traffic Act to allow for increased fines and confiscation of vehicles, including farm yard and commercial vehicles:
“This proposal is utterly disproportionate and will generate massive amounts of resentment in rural Ireland in particular.
If Minister Ross is seriously suggesting a new regime whereby critical farm yard vehicles can be confiscated and the farmer can be jailed then he has truly gone off the deep end in terms of a detachment from rural life.
How does the Minister intend to put this bizarre proposal into practice? It is completely unworkable and has the potential to ruin farm and working families that are barely surviving as it is.
For many rural TD’s this smacks of yet another hair brained Cabinet initiative that reflects the absolute and increasing rural/urban divide at the heart of this government.
Telling farmers that that they can potentially be jailed or that they will have their machinery seized for allowing a son or daughter to drive a tractor across the yard is incredible nonsense.
What I am proposing is that we find a more proportionate and effective response to the critical and important issue of road safety that does not involve the excessive penalisation of one distinct element of the community, such as farmers and self employed people,” concluded Deputy McGrath.