O’Donoghue hits out at ‘obsessive Green Party’ move to reduce speed limits

Limerick Independent Ireland TD Richard O'Donoghue

A COUNTY Limerick politician has questioned plans by the government to reduce speed limits on national, secondary and local roads.

Rural Ireland Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue considers it “an obsessive Green Party move that will not slow climate change but will make roads more unsafe and harm the economy”.

Under the Road Traffic Bill 2023, many roads across Limerick will have their previous speed limits reduced by 20km/h, with national secondary roads moving from 100km/h to 80 km/h and local or rural roads dropping from 50km/h to 30km/h.

While expressing his support for any “realistic and meaningful” reform to road safety, the County Limerick TD said he “cannot accept a government that exploits the public’s concerns about road safety and then uses it to lower almost all existing default speed limits on national secondary roads, regional and local roads, and all built-up areas”.

“This move is driven by the Green Party and is a knee-jerk reaction to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The move ignores the cost of increased travel time, reduced accessibility, lower economic productivity, and public dissatisfaction.”

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Deputy O’Donoghue went onto point out that an independent report by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in March 2022 was discarded by Minister Eamon Ryan because it concluded that reducing speed limits would have minimal impact on emissions and would result in an additional 35 deaths every year.

“A study from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health analysed data from before and after the 20m/ph limit was introduced on roads in central Belfast in 2016. The study found ‘little impact on long-term outcomes’ in the city. The study suggested that other factors, such as improved road design, enforcement, education, and awareness, were more important than speed limits in influencing driver behaviour and road safety,” the Deputy said.

He added that “the report also found that the economic cost of reducing speed limits could be €3.8billion over 30 years”.

Deputy O’Donoghue is of the view that a “blind and hasty” approach to approving the speed legislation is deeply damaging, saying that “crucial factors, such as the lack of Garda numbers to carry out road traffic enforcement, are not being addressed. Instead, it’s a government that lectures the public to drive slower or face fines. Ireland needs more investment in roads to make them safer.”