The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has strongly criticised government for abandoning rural communities in the wake of changes to drink-driving legislation introduced last October.

Given the lack of clarity about when it’s safe to drive, which has induced fear in local communities, the VFI says urgent action is required to implement sustainable transport solutions for rural Ireland.

Speaking at the Federation’s AGM, Chief Executive Padraig Cribben said the government had passed legislation that has a disproportionately negative impact on rural areas compared to major cities, stating that a simplified application process for rural hackneys would alleviate some of the problems.

“The National Transport Authority said in February that it would simplify the licence application process but three months on all we have is the promise of a limited pilot programme.

“An Uber-style rural taxi service was also mooted but we see scant progress. What we have is warm words but no action.”

In the absence of meaningful transport solutions, the VFI is calling for the introduction of ‘limited’ licences for drivers convicted in the 50mg-80mg range, a category that previously received three penalty points for a first conviction.

Limited licences have proven successful in countries like New Zealand.