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Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Bill 2013: Second Stage (Continued)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae]  I want to raise an issue on behalf of those who own lorries, the majority of whom are in real financial difficulty. One may have a lorry parked by the house, but there may be no work for it. Motor tax on a lorry may be between €2,000 and €3,000 a year. If the Government was interested in being proactive in keeping people in employment, it would introduce legislation to allow for lorrymen to tax their lorries on a monthly basis, not on a three or six monthly basis. A lorryman could be idle for several months but might get a offer of several weeks work. He should be allowed to tax the lorry for that period to enable him to take on this work and make a few pounds for himself and his family. That is what the Government should be doing in legislation.

My problem with the Government is that it is staring into the skies, wondering from where we will attract foreign investment to create employment, while missing the elephant in the room. The elephant in the room is our honest to God, hard-working people who are doing their best to find a day’s work for themselves or even provide for an employee or two. I take grave exception to the way the Minister portrayed his views.

I also take the opportunity to speak about the Road Safety Authority, RSA. I can only be complimentary to the agency as in 2005 there were 369 road deaths, while last year there were only 186. I acknowledge all involved in this excellent work. There is, however, such a thing as people getting it into their heads that they are geniuses about their work and, as we used to say long ago, their heads can become a small bit swelled. Recently the RSA proposed that fully licensed drivers accompanying young drivers on a provisional licence could be breathalysed. Who dreamed this up and thought it was a good idea? The person who drafted this ridiculous proposal should be breathalysed. It is the RSA going completely off the wall. What will it suggest next? Will it suggest that to make the roads completely safe we close them all together and stop traffic?

In his travels around the country the Ceann Comhairle will have seen farmers selling farm goods such as spuds, carrots, tomatoes and onions from stalls on the side of the road, a good development. Again, however, geniuses in the RSA have decided this is an unsafe practice and the Government agrees with them. This is ridiculous. If a farmer wants to set up a little stall beside a van on the side of the road, sell his or her goods and make a couple of pounds for himself or herself and his or her family, not only should he or she be allowed to do so, he or she should be encouraged to do so. It is ridiculous to suggest that because a person travelling in a motor car stops to purchase such goods it creates a road traffic hazard. Again, those suggesting this should be breathalysed because they are off the wall. We should encourage farmers to sell their farm goods. They should pick a safe location on the side of the road, set up their little stall and make a few pounds for themselves. Is that not what this country was all about? It was about people being resilient, hard-working, diligent and using their imagination to make a couple of pounds for themselves. For any Government and the RSA to condemn that practice shows it has gone off the wall.

It must be remembered these are the ones who fell asleep at the wheel when we were building motorways from Dublin to Cork and Limerick. What did the RSA do about ensuring there would be service stations on motorways where people could rest, have a cup of coffee, use a toilet and get a bite of food?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Can we, please, get back to what is contained in the Bill?

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae We will, but you must admit that what I am saying is interesting and true.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett It is very interesting, but it has nothing to do with the legislation.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae I am coming back to it. It was ridiculous that the RSA did not demand service stations in the interests of safety when the Government was investing hard earned taxpayers’ money in these great roads, roads I am glad have been provided. Were it not for the Fitzpatrick family building a service station at junction 14 on the M8, we would not have a service station on the Dublin-Cork motorway. It is ridiculous. As I am very respectful to you, a Cheann Comhairle, as you know, I am coming back to the Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett It is not to me. It is a rule of the House that a Member should speak to the Bill.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae I am coming back to it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Good.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae When it comes to the Government’s dealings on this matter, we have gone a step too far. I would have preferred if it had used its time more productively, instead of bringing a Bill such as this before the House and putting down our people, the very ones who work hard in trying to keep themselves going. What does it want to do? Does it want to put everyone on the dole queue or into a box of being unemployed? Would it not allow a little encouragement and a spirit of free enterprise? Would it not be better if we on this side heard it acknowledge that those involved in the transport and haulage sector are suffering severe financial times and that it wanted to help them productively by introducing a simple measure that would allow lorries to be taxed on a four-weekly basis? However, I had to read the Minister’s speech three times because I was so shocked by it that I said to myself, “Oh my God. The Nanny State gone mad.” If we were in Red Russia, it would not be as a bad. I know the Minister of State is a very nice man and I would rather he was not in order that I could be more severe in my criticism. At the same time, I have to lay my cards on the table. What the Minister tried to defend tonight was actually indefensible. The Bill is crazy as it attacks and accuses people of being dishonest. It assumes €55 million is not paid in motor tax by the majority who genuinely claim their vehicle has been off the road and clear it with their local garda. How dare the Government presume the people-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I apologise for interrupting the Deputy, but as it is 7.30 p.m., we have to adjourn the debate.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae That is a shame because I was only starting to get going.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy will have another chance the next day.

Debate adjourned.


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