Integrity of penalty points scheme must be upheld - Ellis
Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Dessie Ellis has called on the Minister to work with opposition representatives to ensure that the penalty points system is not damaged irreparably by recent problems in legislation. He also made the point that road fatalities were now rising and more Garda resources were needed to ensure the effectiveness of the system in place.
Deputy Ellis said:
"Major strides have been made in the last decade with the introduction of Penalty Points and strategy which had greater success than even the government of the time had expected.
“The strength of the deterring effect of penalty points was down to two things; mostly that the public saw the administration of penalty points as fair and that they had sufficient reason to believe that they would receive penalty points if they flouted the law.
“These two essential planks of the Penalty Points system’s effectiveness have been severely damaged over the last 3 years and this issue has not helped the matter.
“The failure to commence the other section in question was another case of human error which we must work to avoid at all costs but will always be a possibility.
“The Minister has met with Transport spokespeople both in the Dáil and the Seanad and I would ask that this engagement become more commonplace and certainly be continued for the duration of the out working of this Bill. I would ask the Minister to agree to update the spokespeople and the Committee over the New Year.
“This is a case for transparency and fairness in the administering of the scheme, not scrapping it as some might argue.
“This is especially important in the context of a policing organisation which has weathered three years of harsh austerity. Cuts made by this government has meant fewer Gardaí, fewer vehicles, fewer stations but all the while more responsibility for road safety laid at the door of the Gardaí.
“They have clearly worked extremely hard to fill the gaps caused by this lack of resources but they cannot be spread so thin and continue to be as effective. Less capacity for the Gardaí to do their job means more people continuing to drive dangerously on the road.
“Without proper resourcing we cannot return to the success of previous years. I do not believe we have reached a threshold. There are still people flouting the law and endangering lives and we can do better. The key is giving the correct supports to the Gardaí to do their job.
“NCT waiting times must also be tackled. I have dealt with people who have had to wait between 2 and 5 months and this is not acceptable."