There is an ongoing scandal of disqualified drivers continuing to drive. It has been highlighted continuously by road safety activists such as Ms Susan Gray and the PARC road safety group, yet the figures are stark. The Minister’s colleague, Deputy Burke, reported that approximately 83,000 licences of banned drivers were not surrendered in the past eight years. The Minister gave me figures for the past two or three years which are equally stark. Is it not past time that the Road Safety Authority, RSA, the Garda, the Courts Service and the information technology systems worked together coherently to end this problem once and for all?
Deputy Broughan consistently asks Parliamentary Questions to both the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, on road safety legislation and the implementation of that legislation. Sometimes, in the cases of questions to Justice, Deputy Broughan can be waiting for years for replies. When Deputy Broughan asked both Ministers about the number of drivers disqualified in court each year in the years 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018 he was very surprised to see that the Department of Justice and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) both provided different figures in their replies.
After the UK pulled out of the EU Convention on Driving Disqualifications this time last year, the Minister undertook to use the planned road traffic legislation, which he brought to the Cabinet on Tuesday, to bring about a regularisation of this country’s arrangements with the UK. It has taken the Government a full year to legislate for this issue, which is of great importance to the Border region, in particular. I understand most of that time was spent renegotiating our mutual recognition agreement with the UK.
At the end of August of this year, working in collaboration with Ms Susan Gray and the PARC road safety group, I received a reply from the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, to my Parliamentary Question No. 511 of 14 July. The reply detailed by district court the number of persons listed and convicted and licence numbers recorded for drink driving offences between January 2013 and May 2015. Ms Susan Gray and PARC have done and, indeed, continue to do Trojan work in the area of road safety, highlighting loopholes in our legislation and the failure to implement our traffic laws.
Earlier this month I asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to provide, in tabular form, the number of drivers who surrendered their licences to the Road Safety Authority, after being disqualified by the Courts from driving for a long period, after being found guilty of dangerous driving, causing death, in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, to date
Deputy Broughan has called on the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald to address his questions relating to the numbers of disqualified drivers who have failed to surrender their licences. Deputy Broughan and Susan Gray of PARC have been requesting information from the Ministers of Justice and Transport on the disqualification of drivers, on the surrendering of licences and on the number of any prosecutions since September 2014 and have not yet received any answers.