*Photograph: Joe Buckley

61 PEOPLE have been killed so far on Irish roads this year yet Clare County Council does not have a road safety officer, it emerged this week.

An increase in road deaths in Ireland since before the pandemic is the worst in the EU, preliminary data from the European Commission has detailed. Ireland is also among a minority of countries where road deaths increased last year relative to 2022.

Across the EU as a whole there was a 1% fall in road deaths last year, with the Commission warning that progress was “stalling” in “too many countries”. The trend in Ireland was among the worst, with a 19% increase in road deaths here last year, when 184 people lost their lives, a large majority of them men. This was 33% higher than before the pandemic in 2019.

To date in 2024, 61 people have been killed on Irish roads.

In Clare, the position of road safety officer has not been filled by Clare County Council for a number of years, the exact length that this has been vacant has not been clarified by the local authority at the time of going to print.

Speaking this week, Director of Physical Development with the Council, Alan Farrell explained that the local authority does “have a person that carries out the duty of the road safety officer”. He said the Council could review filling a dedicated road safety officer post.

At Monday’s meeting of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) proposed that the Minister for Education, Norma Foley (FF) “include road safety on the curriculum at all levels of education in the county”.

He said, “unfortunately it is all young people that have been killed in recent road accidents”. The Cratloe man equated giving “a child a loaded shot gun” as cases of young people getting behind the wheel of a car. “Unfortunately getting behind the wheel of a car with loaded cars is leading to tragedy,” he lamented.

“Quite a lot of young people don’t realise the danger that is there,” the former Mayor of Clare flagged. He said only TY students are taught the rules of the road in the Irish education system.

Issues relating to those driving e-scooters were flagged by Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) when she seconded the motion. She referenced how catchy slogans and visual adverts are effective in learning the rules of the road.

Lisdoonvarna based Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) stated, “We’ve all seen the turn on the trend of road safety in recent years, have been on very positive trajectory but something has happened, you are in charge as Cllr Ryan has said of a lethal weapon, it is a lifelong learning issue, I could do with a revisit on my driving habits myself”. He suggested starting as young as creches, “it needs to become an automatic approach in how we conduct ourselves in walking, driving or cycling. Doing it in TY or one year is no good, it needs to be a continual phase of engagement”.

Twenty one years ago, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy’s (FF) brother Jarlath was killed when walking on the road “through no fault of the driver, my brother had no hi-vis jacket on a dary windy night and the worst happened,” she recalled. The Quin native insisted, “we all have to check ourselves sometimes, you might answer a call without being connected to audio of the car, with these phones we can be reckless when driving a car and our attention is diverted”.

Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) proposed that the Council fill the vacancy of road safety officer. Cllr Mary Howard (FG) stated, “Since January, 61 people have died on our roads, that is made up of quite a few young people, we all remember the Friday evening when they were killed in Tipperary”.

According to Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) “young people totally ignore the rules of the road”. This prompted Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) to remark, “Thank God the older drivers aren’t being targeted today” and he said more than education is needed to tackle the issue. Cllr John Crowe (FG) said “traffic on roads has gone completely out of control”.

Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) commented, “61 people dying is 61 too many”. He added, “I’ve seen cars heading for Lissycasey, once you get there people slow down to 30, because the speed van is generally there, I don’t know if PJ Kelly has them there but it is the one village in this county that I go into where I always slow down”. He stated, “the young lads are not educated”.

Every child in secondary school “should be taught about road safety,” Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) insisted. “It is general bad behaviour on phones,” Cllr Pat Hayes (FF).

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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