DUP-run department rebuts Sammy Wilson’s ‘Taliban’ jibe

Sammy Wilson criticised the 'anti-motor car Taliban'
Sammy Wilson criticised the 'anti-motor car Taliban'

Stormont’s DUP-run transport ministry has responded to a furious attack upon its new 20mph policy by a senior party figure.

DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson had expressed doubt that the new Belfast city centre limit could be justified on safety grounds – echoing a claim made by Ukip transport committee member David McNarry (and by some taxi drivers who spoke to the News Letter).

He said the “anti-motor car Taliban don’t know when to stop and unfortunately there isn’t the political will to stand up against their increasingly draconian policies”.

The Department for Regional Development (run by DUP MLA Michelle McIlveen) said in response: “The key aim of these schemes is to improve safety for the vulnerable road user particularly pedestrians and cyclists without causing any undue inconvenience for car drivers.

“Statistics show that if a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 40mph they are 90 per cent likely to sustain a fatality, at 30mph this is reduced to 50 per cent and at 20mph the chances of being involved in a fatality reduces to 10 per cent.

“So we’re not only looking to reduce the severity of these collisions we’re also looking to reduce the numbers of them.”

Mr Wilson had also claimed the 20mph limit will “swell the coffers” of the DRD through fines.

However, the DRD said that while it makes revenue from fining motorists in bus lanes, it does not get cash from speeding fines (something which is a police matter).

Mr Wilson had been considering a bid for leadership of the DUP, but ultimately pulled out, with Arlene Foster reciving the overwhelming backing of the party.