Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Shane Ross TD has praised the parents of a little boy – killed by a drunk driver – for their bravery and generosity in leading the Christmas and New Year campaign against drink driving.
In an emotional and hard-hitting speech, Minister Ross saluted Gillian and Ronan Treacy, who lost their four-year-old son Ciaran in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in 2014.
The story of Gillian and Ronan - together with the Emergency Services who attended the scene of the collision and the medical team who fought to save Ciaran’s life while his mother was treated for horrific injuries - is told in stark and devastating detail in the latest ‘Crashed Lives’ ad from the RSA released today.
Minister Ross said:
“I just say ‘we salute you.’ It’s a fantastically brave and courageous thing to have done for everybody in the country and I have no doubt that you will save lives by what you’ve done today – by allowing this film to be made.”
At the event, which was also attended by the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and RSA Chairwoman Liz O’Donnell, Minister Ross said;
“Today we are here to try, with Gillian and Ronan’s help, to ensure that it [this tragedy] doesn’t happen again and that’s what this campaign is all about. I don’t think we can dismiss road deaths as ‘somebody else’s’ problem. Our message here today is that it is all our problem. It’s not just that we shouldn’t be drinking and driving ourselves but that we have a public duty in our daily lives to discourage other people from doing it. Drink driving kills, maims and shatters lives.”
“We did think that drinking and driving had become socially unacceptable, that it was a generational thing, only acceptable in the 80’s and 90’s and that it had ended.
This is not true. The reality is that it is a serious problem. And it has either dipped and is now resurrected, or it actually never went away. That is something that we, as legislators, and the Road Safety Authority and everybody in their daily lives have got to recognise and say, ‘we need to renew our crusade to stop people drinking and driving’.”
Minister Ross noted that road deaths this year are up by 20% and said that this is “completely and utterly unacceptable”.
He added, “I think this might indicate to us a more serious message - that while campaigns have been successful in their own way, that they are not enough – that we in government and in joint ventures and crusades with the RSA should look at other ways to combat this, as well as work in tandem.”
“The figures show the quite devastating reality that in 38% of fatal accidents alcohol played a part – alcohol was there, was consumed. Those figures come from 2012 and I’m told by those who work in the area that anecdotally things have gotten much worse since then. So this is urgent and it’s not anything we can claim to have beaten in any way. The trend is upwards and we have to do something about it.”
Minister Ross added that the Road Traffic Bill went through committee stage yesterday and should be passed before Christmas.
“This has some pretty sensible laws to combat drug driving, speed driving in housing estates and more efficient court procedures, “ he said.
“I think we have to recognise that we’re going to have to take some hard decisions in order to stop this curse which is taking away lives – young and old – and causing so many tragedies. I have been working with the Tánaiste in other forums and we will be absolutely determined to – if not remove – then reduce this scourge.
And the part played by Gillian and Ronan here today in doing that is something to which I think we should all pay tribute.”