In the past three months, road deaths have increased from their 2008 levels. In May there were 32 deaths on our roads, up from 19 deaths in the same period in 2008.
I am seriously concerned that improvements in road safety are being eroded. I note with despair that a recent report on RTE News stated that Ireland has been severely criticised by the European Transport Safety Council in respect of our failure to implement certain key aspects of the road safety strategy. In particular, we have failed to roll out the promised safety camera programme and all but abolished the successful Road Safety Authority advertising campaign.
Last year, 279 people were killed on our roads and thousands of others injured. Based on the most recent figures from the Road Safety Authority, the cost of all accidents reported to the Garda Síochána is €1.38 billion. Unless someone takes ownership of this project more families will lose their loved ones, more people will be maimed, more families will lose breadwinners and more families will endure untold heartache. I have received nothing but hollow assurances in this House in replies to questions on this matter, stating that discussions are ongoing between the Department of Transport and the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Finance. I am calling on the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children to support the road safety strategy of the Road Safety Authority and the Garda Síochána by providing the necessary funding to support the RSA's advertising campaign and implementing the promised safety camera programme.
Ireland is lagging far behind countries such as France, the Netherlands, Finland and the United Kingdom in respect of its roll-out of speed cameras. In France in 2001, some 8,000 people lost their lives on French roads, but that figure has since fallen by 50%, with 4,000 people having died on French roads in 2008. Speed cameras were introduced during that period. The delay in this process can only be put down to incompetence. Poland and Lithuania began their speed camera tendering processes after Ireland and now have those cameras in operation, while we are still waiting for them.
I call on the Minister of State to support the road safety strategy initiatives including the roll-out of safety cameras. These initiatives will have a positive effect on Irish drivers. They will reduce excessive speeding and increase compliance on the roads. Speed affects the outcome of every accident. By reducing speeds, we can reduce the effect of road traffic collisions, thereby saving lives.
The Department of Transport put the speed cameras contract out to tender two years ago and several Irish companies with international partners incurred significant costs in tendering for that contract. The successful company, with partners who are proven experts in road safety, incurred considerable additional costs in further advancing the project. This project will create 100 jobs throughout Ireland, with 40 in Listowel, my home town. It will create jobs in Donegal and along the west coast. These are employment black spots and need every job that can be provided, but the Government has abandoned them. Most damning of all is that while speed cameras are likely to be a revenue-neutral initiative, the cost in lives saved could never be measured. I appeal to the Minister of State to convey the sentiments I have expressed this evening to the Minister for Transport and to plead with him to ensure that the contract will proceed as soon as possible.
According to the recent report of the European Transport Safety Council:
While the introduction of a speed camera system in the Republic of Ireland is one of the main features of the Irish Government's road safety strategy, it has been hit with delay after delay.
The latest hold up comes after the Republic's Minister for Finance confirmed in late 2008 that a €10 million budget was being provided for the introduction of a speed camera programme in 2009.
This has been promised but has not been delivered. I hope that in the interests of road safety and saving lives it will be delivered as soon as possible.