ACOUNTY council in rural southern Ireland wants people living in isolated areas to have the legal right to drink and drive.

The theory is that if rural drinkers are allowed to drive after having “two or three drinks”, depression and suicide could be prevented.

Councillors backing the motion argue that it would bring back a social outlet for lonely people in rural areas lost after stricter drink-drive laws were introduced.

They suggest that rural drinkers travel on very minor roads, often on tractors, with very little traffic and therefore it is not right that they are treated the same as the rest of the travelling public.

What happens when one of these ‘suicidal’ people has a few drinks and kills someone else on the road?

I too live in the countryside and the prospect of sharing a country road with a driver who is not fully in control is a worrying one.

In Wales, evidence suggests that rural locations bear the brunt of road accidents leading to deaths and injuries.

I’m sure the statistics would be similar in Ireland. I have driven in rural Ireland on many occasions, along poorlymaintained, winding roads, which suddenly narrow to one track. Drivers need to have their wits about them to keep themselves and others safe.

Alcohol affects people in different ways.

Back in my student days I don’t doubt that I drank more than was good for me, but the student bar was in walking distance of the halls of residence. Now, many years and three children later, it only takes a glass or two of wine to have the same effect as the many I consumed back then.

Even if it was legal for me to get behind the wheel after two glasses of wine, I wouldn’t because I know my judgment would be very different to that of my sober self.

There is very strong evidence of an irrefutable link between the consumption of alcohol and impairment.

I’m not a high priestess for prohibition – I love a drink or two – but surely it is possible to drink non-alcoholic beverages and still enjoy a night out. If not, what’s wrong with having a designated driver or paying for a taxi?

Depression causes suicide; it’s not caused by not being able to go to the pub.