New drink-driving law ‘adds to a culture of rural isolation’

A Lietrim-based Councillor has said that people in rural Ireland are now afraid to risk calling into town and having a drink because “the reality is if they loose their licence – it’s their lifeline cut off”.

Sinn Fein Councillor from Mohill, Co. Leitrim, Seadhna Logan, has explained to AgriLand that he feels the new law on drink-driving “disproportionately effects rural Ireland”.

He outlined that he believes the new law of zero alcohol tolerance “is adding to a culture of rural isolation”.

“This is creating a culture of people staying at home and that in my mind is anti rural; one drink will now put them over the limit.”

He feels that the new law will have the harshest effect on “the likes of an elderly bachelor coming into town for a pint and a short one and tipping home at 20mph – these people aren’t thugs on the road”.

“In this part of Ireland we have an older and predominantly rural population. Everyone is dependent on their cars and no one can afford to get put off the roads.

For older people living in isolation in rural Ireland, their car is an essential lifeline; it’s what gets them into town to socialise, to see people and to be active in their community.

Logan said that the law disproportionately effects rural Ireland because “people in cities can get the bus, the train or a taxi home.

“In rural Leitrim, public transport is virtually non existent. There’s a couple of lads doing hackney, but the smaller communities in this area don’t have access to public transport – so people are dependent on their cars.

I think the new rules on drink driving came with good intentions and a genuine concern, but I also think you have urban-based politicians making calls for rural Ireland.

“They do not understand what life is like in rural Ireland. They don’t understand the lack of infrastructure, public transport and how their decisions in Dublin have a severe impact on people in rural Ireland.

“The flexibility with the law as it was was fine. I don’t feel that amending it the way they did has brought anything new to it.”

Logan concluded by saying: “If our elderly neighbours lose their licence, that’s their last bit of connection to the outside world gone.”