Twenty-years after losing his younger brother and sister-in-law in a road accident in Quigley’s Point, Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey, has urged people to never, ever drink and drive.
The local MLA, who has been a long-time campaigner on road safety issues, said the message is particularly pertinent during the festive season.
He said: “It only takes one second to ruin Christmas with the tragedy of drink driving. It would seem that this time of year leads to an increase in incidents of drink driving and I would appeal to everyone to seriously consider the gravity of the chance they are taking if they do get behind the wheel with drink on board.”
He added: “Christmas is in the air and people are planning celebrations.
“When doing so I would urge people to arrange lifts if they are going to take a drink and never, ever to drink and drive.
“Putting it bluntly drink driving is a stupid, selfish, dangerous and criminal thing to do.
“The prospect for tragedy becomes all too real.”
Mr Ramsey lost his brother, Raymond, aged 32, and sister-in-law, Michelle, aged 29, in a three vehicle crash on July 22, 1995.
They were hit when returning from a caravan site near Culdaff.
Their two children, Laura and Joanne, survived but both were hospitalised. Joanne was in intensive care for months after the crash.
Mr Ramsey said: “From my own personal experience I know the terrible, long term pain that road accidents bring to people. People’s lives are suddenly and irrevocably shattered.
“When accidents happen because a driver is selfish enough to drink and drive, that pain is very difficult to bear.
“I would appeal to people to make sure that they plan their transport home after a night out and the morning after so that no-one drives when under the influence of alcohol this festive season.
“Drink responsibly and let’s make sure that this is a great, safe Christmas for everyone.”
Mr Ramsey previously spoke about his personal loss at Stormont.
In November 2010 he told MLAs: “They were coming home from a caravan site near Culdaff when, near Derry, they were taken out by someone in a Volvo car who was well over the alcohol limit.
“I think that he was two or three times over the alcohol limit and was driving in excess of 90 mph. They had two children in the car, Laura and Joanne, who were both hospitalised; Joanne was in intensive care for months after the crash. They are still coming round. One can imagine the turmoil and trauma that comes to someone’s door when they get a knock from the police. I can tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that both the Ramsey family and the McCann family were devastated.”