Proposal to allow rural drivers to drink and drive 'irresponsible nonsense'
A call by Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae to allow rural drivers a permit to drink alcohol have been dismissed as "dangerous nonsense".
Mr Healy-Rae has again made controversial comments about drink-driving, telling the Dáil the closure of pubs is killing rural areas.
He has previously called for drink-driving permits to be given out in rural areas.
"They have closed down pubs in rural Kerry and have left the social fabric in smithereens," he said.
"The Irish pub has been known all around the world as a place of culture, traditional music, song and dance, storytelling, a place where families and workers meet.
"Many cities around the world have tried to replicate the Irish country pub. Now, people around Kerry are afraid to leave their homes to go into pubs, like rabbits trapped in a burrow."
Speaking at Leader's Questions, Mr Healy-Rae said he was calling for a permit system to allow people to have two or three drinks and then drive.
"I'm asking you to provide a permit for the people who are only travelling on rural roads so they can have their two pints and drive home.
"Give them a chance to live and give them a chance to try it. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
Tanaiste Simon Coveney rejected the suggestion and said people cannot be encouraged to drink and drive no matter where they live.
"You seem to be saying that the way to keep pubs open is to allow people to drink and drive. That is not only irresponsible, but I think it is an insult to so many families who continue to mourn the deaths of people who've been killed by people drinking and driving," he said.
"In terms of trying to return to some kind of old Ireland that was better because people could get into their cars regardless of whether they've been drinking or not, and regardless of whether they represented danger on the road, is just blatant, irresponsible nonsense, quite frankly."
Mr Coveney said the plan would not work and would not help to revive rural Ireland.
He said the government's national broadband plan and a rural bus service will help tackle rural isolation.