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Foreign drivers defended

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Foreign drivers defended

ANTON MCNULTY


A SENIOR Mayo garda has dismissed suggestions that foreign nationals cause more problems on the road than the Irish, despite the increase in numbers of foreign nationals appearing before the local courts.
The number of foreign nationals coming before the District Courts in Mayo is increasing with the majority of prosecutions being for motoring offences.
However, Inspector Michael Murray, head of the Traffic Corps in Mayo, believes with the large amount of foreign nationals in the county, it would be inevitable that there would be some appearing in court.
“The number of foreign names appearing on the list is increasing, there is no question about that. But they will be a long time increasing before they exceed the Irish names. The same with the travellers, we have a high content of travellers in Ballina and there will be some on the list, but it will be a long time before they exceed the settled community,” he explained.
Inspector Murray believe that it would be helpful if the rules of the road could be explained to foreign nationals by employers when they come into the country, to try and deter them for committing offences. He gave a warning though that pleading ignorance about the laws was not an excuse for the Irish or the foreigners.
“I agree somebody could educate them but I do not pay much attention to the excuses. I have concern all the time about drunken driving and speeding and the various road traffic offences. That is for everybody, I don’t single out foreign people for special attention because they are doing it, so are the Irish,” said Inspector Murray.
Meanwhile no deaths were recorded on Mayo roads over the festive season. Inspector Murray said there was no special Christmas drink driving campaign on the roads this year because the ‘aggressive’ level at which the Traffic Corps have been pursuing drink drivers does not make it necessary, said the garda.
The Traffic Corps have a special operation running since August where the level of checkpoints has stepped up. Insp Murray, said the Christmas campaign was a continuation of what has happened over the last few months.
The last year has seen a decrease in road deaths in the county with a 22 per cent drop in road fatalities on last year. In 2005 there were 15 deaths caused by road accident, but this year that figure has fallen to eleven.
The concentrated levels in checkpoints have led to an increased number of arrests for drink driving. In 2005 there were 98 arrests for drink driving in the Ballina region and that number has almost doubled in the last year.
Mr Noel Gibbons, the Road Safety Officer with Mayo County Council also welcomed the fall in the amount of road deaths in 2006 but still felt the figure was too high. He called for the continued co-operation with the public and thanked them for supporting and embracing the campaigns.