Families remember loved-ones among the victims on our roads
Families who have lost loved ones on Irish roads gathered in Dublin at a special Mass marking the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
The emotional event took place yesterday in St Michan's Church on Halston Street and was also attended by members of the emergency services and the Road Safety Authority.
Fr Bryan Shortall told the congregation that 165 people had been killed on Irish roads this year alone, 32 more than at the same time last year. However, that figure rose to 166 within minutes as news emerged that a woman had been killed in an accident in Co Galway.
A total of 23,948 people have been killed on the roads here since records began in 1959.
At a candle-lighting service, family members also placed the name of their loved one on a tree in front of the altar.
One family who attended the Mass were the O'Donnells from Finglas. They lost their son and brother Wayne on February 17, 2002.
"He was cycling home from work as an usher in Leinster House, and he was only yards from home when he was hit crossing the road," his brother Stuart said.
Wayne was just 30 when the accident happened, and had been married for just over a year.
"Even though it's 14 years ago, the memory of it is still the same, and the sense of shock," said Stuart.
"It never leaves you. It's with you every day," he added.
Wayne's mother Marie said the sudden news is very difficult to cope with.
"You are never prepared for the shock of a sudden death," she said.
"You never move on. You become stationed I suppose," added her husband Frank.
Around them their young nieces and nephews placed cards on the symbolic tree with 'Uncle Wayne O'Donnell' written on them.
"Wayne never got to meet his nieces and nephews, but they know all about him," said Marie.
Symbols brought to the altar by members of the emergency services and the Road Safety Authority included a garda cap, a fire officer's helmet, a stethoscope, and a copy of the Rules of the Road.
Speaking on the World Day of Remembrance, Fine Gael MEP for Ireland South and member of the European Transport Committee Deirdre Clune called for immediate action on road deaths in Ireland.
"The first thing we can do is address the use of mobile phones by drivers. I have called for a doubling of penalty points and a tougher approach to those caught using their phone while driving," she said.
"Speeding is a primary factor in about one third of fatal collisions and an aggravating factor in all collisions where it occurs.
"Many of our rural roads are not suitable for high speeds. We need a sustained campaign to tackle speeding, in particular on rural roads."