MOTORISTS in Cork continue to put people's lives at risk by drinking and driving, according to the city's top cop.
In fact, the number of people committing such crimes has risen by 11% - a fact which Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin says can at least partially be attributed to the recent economic upturn.
He said most people now have more money in their pockets than they would have had in previous years which has, in turn, led to an upsurge in the nightlife in Cork and could be at least partially responsible for an increase in the amount of people drinking alcohol and then getting behind the wheel.
The Chief Supt made the comments at the most recent meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee where he presented An Garda Siochana's most recent crime figures for the district.
Between December 2015 and February 2016, Gardai recorded 74 instances of drink driving in the city. This was compared to the same three month period the following year – December to February just gone. There were 82 such instances during this timeframe – an increase of 11%.
Coincidentally, the amount of drunkenness offences in Cork city also rose by 11% during that timeframe – up from 198 occurrences (December 2015 to February 2016) to 219 occurrences (December 2016 to February 2017).
A number of local political representatives were present at the JPC, which took place in City Hall last week, and condemned the practice of drink and/or drug driving.
“Despite the best efforts of An Garda Siochana, there seems to be a continuous increase in people driving under the influence. It beggars belief that people can continue to think that they can drink and drive and whether it's the morning after, or the night of, it's wrong,” said Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer.
Sinn Fein councillor Mick Nugent said the figures were “worrying”, particularly “in this day and age”.
Chief Supt McPolin said the latest figures for Cork city are in line with a national increase, and that the district was “no better or worse” for drink drivers than any other area.
He said An Garda Siochana remains committed to tackling the issue, however, and will continue to focus on checkpoints and on drug and alcohol testing.