The Kerry TD called on Minister Shane Ross to 'leave the people of rural Ireland alone'
Danny Healy-Rae has pleaded with Minister Shane Ross to 'leave the people of rural Ireland alone'.
The Kerry TD was speaking during a debate in the Dáil over drink-driving legislation.
If passed, the drink-driving bill would see an automatic driving ban for first-time offenders detected at the lowest limit.
Currently drivers caught with alcohol concentrations of between 50mg and 80mg are facing a fine and penalty points, but no ban – provided it is their first offence.
Some rural TDs are among those who have voiced their opposition to the bill.
Speaking last night, Deputy Healy-Rae claimed: "In the 50-80mg bracket, you have not shown that people were the cause of fatalities, or indeed the cause of accidents, by driving with that amount of alcohol.
"I certainly don't condone drunk driving, but a pint and a half never made anybody drunk."
He added: "I know a man of 93 years of age - he has his pint and a half pint, or at the very most two pints - and he's never been over the 80mg limit.
"The minute this bill will be enacted, he'll be at home then for the rest of his days."
Deputy Healy-Rae suggested the bill and other Government actions are causing damage in rural communities.
He added: "So many people are angered, and so angered around the country of what you do minister.
"They're asking the question - what did they do wrong to you? Everything that's being done, minister, is hurting the people of rural Ireland - why don't you just leave them alone?"
Minister Ross has repeatedly defended the bill, saying it will "strengthen the law and remove the dangerous impression that people who drive over the limit can be allowed to keep on driving right away.”