FOLLOWING several recent fatal road incidences on Limerick roads in recent months, local TD Maurice Quinlivan warned that a failure to properly resource Garda roads policing units will see the number of collisions, fatalities, and life-changing injuries throughout the city and county continue to increase.
The Sinn Féin politician praised the work of An Garda Síochána for their efforts at keeping Limerick roads safe over the Halloween Bank Holiday weekend but said the Government must do more to reduce the number of life-changing road incidents.
Several members of the Limerick Garda Roads Policing Unit have been on suspension for several years without charge as part of a probe into alleged squaring away of road traffic penalty points.
Praising Gardaí for their work in detecting road traffic offences, particularly over the Halloween Bank Holiday weekend, Deputy Quinlivan said: “The fact that 56 people have been arrested over the space of one 24-hour period alone on suspicion of driving under the influence of drink or drugs shows that when resources are in place, those who put themselves and other road users in danger can be caught and brought to justice.”
“But my fear is that figure is only the tip of the iceberg. We have seen Garda numbers reduce across the board and many communities are feeling the impact of that, but we are particularly seeing it when it comes to policing our roads,” Mr Quinlivan said.
“Sadly, 155 lives have been lost on our roads this year, which is the same number lost for the entirety of last year. Regretfully a number of young lives have been lost on Limerick roads this year.
“We have a rising number of fatalities on our roads, more collisions, busier roads, yet the number of Gardaí assigned to police and monitor our roads are only a fraction of what they once were.”
According to Deputy Quinlivan, there were 1,046 Gardaí working in roads policing units in 2009, “but last month that figure had fallen as low as 655”.
“The Government is discussing introducing new road safety legislation, and I of course accept that improved legislation may be needed, but we need to get real here if we want to be serious about road safety.”
“The biggest impediment to reducing the number of deaths on our roads is the failure to adequately resource roads-policing units, and unless we adequately resource our roads policing units to detect people speeding, drink driving, drug driving, or using their phones while driving, the number of collisions, fatalities, life-changing injuries will unfortunately continue to increase.”