McGrath’s Dáil act on traffic Bill drives Ross mad
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.
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.