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Friday 13 December 2019

Ross's speed fines plan set to spark 'all-out war' in FG

GARDAI SPEEDING CARS CAMERAS ROAD SAFETY DANGEROUS DRIVING CHECKPOINTS...Garda James Walsh look through a speed camera on Dublin`s Chapelizod Rd as part of operation Taisteal a national safety campaign over the June Bank Holiday Weekend. 30/5/2003
GARDAI SPEEDING CARS CAMERAS ROAD SAFETY DANGEROUS DRIVING CHECKPOINTS...Garda James Walsh look through a speed camera on Dublin`s Chapelizod Rd as part of operation Taisteal a national safety campaign over the June Bank Holiday Weekend. 30/5/2003

Rural Fine Gael ministers are to try to derail plans for graduated speed penalties which are to come before Cabinet.

Transport Minister Shane Ross wants to introduce a new law which will allow penalty points and fines to be based on how far above the limit a motorist was when caught speeding.

Drivers who exceed the speed limit by more than 30kph are to face a court prosecution and €2,000 fine.

The Herald understands a memo to be taken to Cabinet says Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and the Garda Commissioner are in favour of the changes.

Fight

However, there is growing opposition within Fine Gael which one minister predicted could result in "all-out war" at Cabinet.

While Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe have indicated their support for the proposals, ministers Michael Ring, Joe McHugh, Heather Humphreys, Michael Creed, Simon Harris and Paul Kehoe are expected to speak against them.

Mr Ross was previously thwarted while trying to introduce a tougher penalty points system last year - but believes he has now compiled a workable compromise.

However, a number of Fine Gael ministers confirmed they are under pressure over the issue from backbenchers and will fight the changes.

Mr Ross told the Herald last night that no Fine Gael minister "has made any approach whatsoever to me expressing concern about the revised proposal".

"I'd be very surprised if any of them were in opposition to a measure which is carefully designed to save lives," he said.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross
Minister for Sport Shane Ross

"It is strongly favoured by the road accident victims groups, the Garda Siochana and the Road Safety Authority."

At present, a person caught speeding receives three penalty points and an €80 fine regardless of how much they exceed the limit by.

Mr Ross wants the system amended so that offenders are punished proportionately.

The sanction for those caught up to 10kph over the limit will actually be reduced to two points and a €60 fine.

Anyone driving between 10kph and 20kph over will receive three penalty points and an €80 fine.

This rises to four penalty points and a €100 fine for those 20kph to 30kph over the limit.

Michael Ring
Michael Ring

The measure being presented for approval proposes the creation of a new offence of "exceeding the speed limit by more than 30kph". A breach of this new law would be dealt with by the courts and a €2,000 fine.

Separately, Mr Ross wants to clamp down on motorists who drive without having their licence in the car.

Currently, gardai have the discretion to allow motorists to produce their licence at a later date - but the minister wants an automatic €80 fine to apply.

Although this element of his plan is not likely to be debated, the effort to remove garda discretion is also seen as "a step too far" by some in Fine Gael.

One senior Fine Gael minister said: "He just can't leave things alone."

Another said "the mother of all rows" was imminent as the plan was "too heavy-handed".

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