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TD Paul Murphy says he does not support compulsory bicycle helmets

UPDATED: Paul Murphy TD has said he is not calling for compulsory helmets. Murphy said the original version of this article, which said he was calling for compulsory helmets, was “inaccurate”.

“Just to clarify, I’m not calling for compulsory helmets!”, the TD said on Twitter. He added: “Parliamentary question didn’t say that I’m for compulsory helmets and wasn’t meant to be implied. It was to establish government position.”

When we asked: “…but to what end? Was it asked on behalf of a person or group who are pro-compulsion?”, Murphy replied: An organisation contacted our office. But our question doesn’t call for it or support it.”

(main image above: Irish politicians wearing the same brand and model of helmet for a photo-opp at the launch of the Grand Canal Greenway) 

Murphy, a Socialist Party TD elected in a recent by-election in Dublin South West, wrote to the minister asking: “in view of the dangers of head injuries, his views on the compulsory use of helmets by cyclists on public roads; if he will promote the use of helmets by cyclists; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

Minister Paschal Donohoe’s office used a mostly stock answer which said that there is no plan for compulsory helmets and that they view helmet promotion rather than compulsion as the best way of getting more people to wear helmets.

Donohoe is a Fine Gael TD for Dublin Central who cycles regularly and wears a helmet doing so, although his personal view on compulsion is not known — not everybody who cycles and wears a helmet is for compulsion.

The response from the minister said:

​”It is longstanding Government policy to recommend and promote the wearing of helmets by cyclists. Both my Department and the Road Safety Authority – which has responsibility for information and awareness campaigns – encourage their use.”

“The question of whether we should make it compulsory to wear helmets when cycling has arisen on a number of occasions. Opinion is divided internationally on whether the wearing of safety helmets is best achieved through statutory requirements or through other strategies.”

“The matter was considered in the context of the preparation of the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020. Although the Strategy strongly favours encouraging the use of helmets, it stopped short of recommending making their wearing compulsory. I am of the view that the wearing of cycle helmets is better achieved by way of educational and publicity campaigns rather than by pursuing a punitive approach to the issue, particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle.”

“Consequently, I have no plans to make the wearing of bicycle safety helmets a legal requirement at this time.”

The issue was raised in the upper or lower houses of the Oireachtas, in writing or in debates, at least 14 times since 2004. Of those, 12 of the cases were asking for or asking about compulsion, while only one voiced clear opposition to such a move. We have these detailed these in another article.

MORE: Compulsory bicycle helmets raised in Dail and Seanad most years in last 15

Clarification: accepts that the original version of this article, which had the headline “Paul Murphy TD calls for compulsory use of bicycle helmets”, does not reflect the Murphy’s position. We thank the TD for contacted us on this and are always happy to correct articles where needed.

The original article’s first paragraph read: “TD Paul Murphy — who is best known for resisting upcoming water charges — has asked the minister for transport to make helmets compulsory for anybody who cycles on public roads” — this has now been replaced with the new first three paragraphs. is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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  1. A compulsory helmet law would be a lot cheaper to implement than building proper segregated cycle lanes in our cities and towns.

    In my opinion as a non helmet wearing rural commuter cyclist a minimum passing distance would contribute a lot more to cyclists safety than a silly helmet law. But then that might require acknowledging that motorised vehicles are the real source of the danger. Much easier for car driving politicians to blame the victims.

  2. Another cheap shot by a cynical politician, Murphy shows he is like all the others, discriminating freely against cyclists for a populist sound bite. If he was really concerned about head injury he would advocate compulsory helmets for drivers but why let facts get in the way. The increasing pernicious quality of TDs both independent and party is making it difficult to continue be involved in the democratic process. There will be no real progress as long as we elect this seemingly endless list of Morans. I am regretting voting for him in the euro election and will never make that mistake again.

  3. @Kevin Sweeney. A compulsory helmet law would indeed cheaper than building Dutch-like bicycle infrastructure. But, how about the subsequent costs of healthcare, which have to be made because a cyclist got injured in a traffic accident. In The Netherlands we invest € 50 million for a cycle bridge to earn a profit of € 250 million because of reduced subsequent costs.

  4. A compulsory helmet law is only ‘curing’ the symptoms, but not healing the real cause of the illness. Definition of the word symptom: any single problem that is caused by and shows a more serious and general problem:
    The compulsory use of helmets is that single problem that is caused by the more car-centric mindset of the politicians and shows the more serious and general problem of the need for segregated cycling infrastructure.


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