Ronan & Gillian Treacy with a picture of their late son Ciarán.
Laois mother Gillian Treacy, the face of a Road Safety Authority campaign against drink driving, has welcomed the passing of a Bill in the Dáil today which will see first time drink-driving offenders face automatic driving bans.
Ms Treacy from Portarlington, whose son Ciarán was killed by a drunk driver, is a director on the Road Safety Authority Board and has been giving talks to young people in secondary schools about her family's tragedy while campaigning heavily for changes in drink driving legislation.
On Friday 75 TDs voted in favour and eight TDs voting against the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill.
The legislation will impose stricter penalties on drink drivers and it will also make it an offence for car owners to allow a learner to drive their car unaccompanied.
Ms Treacy told the Leinster Express that it has been a long road and a lot of hard work but she feels this is a success in honour of her son Ciarán.
"I am absolutely delighted after all the work that has gone into it, it is a huge achievement to get the result today and get the bill passed. I do feel it is a huge honour in Ciarán’s name
"I spent months emailing TDs pouring my heart out to them, telling them about our personal experience trying to get through to them. I would have done that on a fortnightly basis with different TDs over 8 months, it has been a hard slog but we got the results today which is great.
"As I said from day one, we wouldn't wish this on another family and I think it is our duty after experiencing this heartbreak to make sure it doesn’t happen to any other family in Ireland. I feel it is in Ciaran’s honour and I am doing it solely in his name. He hasn’t been forgotten.
"I would love to see zero tolerance but that will be down the road. Main thing is to make people aware of the whole issue of drink driving and just one drink does impair your driving and getting that across to people and I think people have become more aware of that," she said.
The bill was delayed for several months due to the strong opposition mounted by a small number of TDs from the Rural Independent Group.
Ms Treacy said she was 'disgusted' with this but is still delighted with the outcome.
"In fairness, it is only a small minority of rural TDs that were against it, all the filibustering delay was solely down to them and the last 8 months throwing it around and waffling on about different things and wasting time on it and in the meantime people were losing their lives and being injured on the roads through drink drivers.
"I was disgusted with their carry on I am glad the Ceann Comhairle stopped them and then it went to a vote and it was passed so it is brilliant.
"Nothing will bring Ciarán back but we would not wish this on our worst enemy and we wouldn't like to see it happening to another family and if one good thing to come out of Ciarán’s death is keeping everybody safe on the road, we will be happy with that," she said.
When the legislation is enacted it will mean that first time drink-driving offenders will face automatic driving bans.
That means the current system of fining and issuing penalty points for those found to be just above the drink driving limit will be abolished.