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.
Clarification: IrishCycle.com 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.
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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.