A local council in southwest Ireland has come up with a novel way to fight depression and loneliness among the elderly: permits for drink driving.
Kerry county council on Monday voted in favor of a motion allowing people living in isolated areas to have “two or three drinks” before driving home, the Guardian reported.
The motion was passed by five votes to three, with the rest of the 24 councilors either absent or abstaining, The Huffington Post reported.
Three of the five councilors who voted in favor of the motion are pub owners.
Councilor and publican Danny Healy-Rae, who proposed the motion, was quoted by the BBC as saying the permits would be issued to “older people” who “are being isolated now at home, and a lot of them falling into depression.”
“A lot of these people are living in isolated rural areas where there’s no public transport of any kind, and they end up at home looking at the four walls, night in and night out, because they don’t want to take the risk of losing their licence,” Healy-Rae told TheJournal.ie.
But the proposal has drawn criticism.
The mayor of Kerry, Terry O'Brien, told the BBC the motion did not "make any sense.”
According to The Huffington Post, the Council will now ask Ireland's justice minister to relax the current law on drink driving, which limits most drivers to a maximum blood-alcohol level of 50mg per 100ml of blood, or roughly the equivalent of less than a pint of beer.
UPDATE: The Christian Science Monitor pointed out on Wednesday that the county council motion has no legal status. It said:
Despite widespread criticism, the motion has attracted some support. Independent Galway councilor Michael Fahy says he will raise the idea at the next council meeting.
The chances of the government agreeing to the idea? Less than the amount of alcohol in a glass of tap water. The country has worked hard in recent decades to reduce road deaths, both by upgrading the road network and by stricter enforcement of the rules of the road.
More from GlobalPost: Ireland News