McGrath’s Dáil act on traf­fic Bill drives Ross mad

The Irish Times - - Front Page - FIACH KELLY Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

Min­is­ter for Trans­port Shane Ross and In­de­pen­dent TD Mat­tie McGrath were in­volved in a heated ex­change in which strong lan­guage was used in full view of evening din­ers in the Dáil can­teen.

Mr Ross and Mr McGrath were once po­lit­i­cally close but are at odds over the Road Traf­fic Bill which is pass­ing through the Dáil. Mr McGrath, a Tip­per­ary TD, and a group of ru­ral deputies have been strongly crit­i­cised for fil­i­bus­ter­ing on the Bill and de­lay­ing its progress.

Mr Ross tackled Mr McGrath on Tues­day about the mat­ter in the Dáil can­teen and ac­cused his for­mer ally of be­ing “a bol­locks” and an “out and out bol­locks”.

The row was caused by Mr McGrath rais­ing an ini­tia­tive from the Road Safety Author­ity with Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar dur­ing the Or­der of Busi­ness in the House. He asked about ¤2 mil­lion be­ing spent on a plan, later shelved, to make it manda­tory to have a pub­lic ser­vices card to get a driv­ing li­cence.

‘Even worse’

Mr Ross then ac­cused Mr McGrath of block­ing “ev­ery f***ing thing I do”, taken to be a ref­er­ence to the Road Traf­fic Bill. Mr McGrath is said to have stood up to ar­gue with Mr Ross but was re­strained by his daugh­ter, with whom he was eat­ing at the time. An­other mem­ber of the Ru­ral In­de­pen­dent group, Michael Collins, was also present. After­wards, Mr Ross told The Ir­ish Times: “I sus­pect I may have called Mat­tie even worse in re­cent weeks over his fil­i­bus­ter­ing.”

The Bill will au­to­mat­i­cally ban first-time driv­ing of­fend­ers for three months if caught with blood-al­co­hol lev­els of be­tween 50 mil­ligrams/100 millil­itres and 80 mil­ligrams/100 millil­itres. It also strength­ens penal­ties for car own­ers who al­low un­ac­com­pa­nied learner driv­ers on the road in their ve­hi­cles and pro­vides for the seizure of cars used by lone learner per­mit hold­ers.

Mr Ross had hoped the Bill, as well as the Ju­di­cial Ap­point­ments Bill, would be be­fore the Dáil this week but both of his leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties were ini­tially de­layed until next week. The Ju­di­cial Ap­point­ments Bill, how­ever, was even­tu­ally taken yes­ter­day.

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