Father campaigning for tougher sentences for killer drivers named in 2023 New Year's Honours list

Peter Dolan described the honour as "bittersweet

A father who has tirelessly campaigned for tougher sentences for those convicted of causing death by dangerous driving is to receive a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Peter Dolan, from Omagh, Co Tyrone, described the honour as "bittersweet" given that his work was prompted by the death of his son Enda in 2014.

The 18-year-old Queen's University Belfast student was in his first term of a degree in architecture when he was knocked down and killed as he walked back to his halls of residence.

The man convicted of causing death by dangerous driving initially received a sentence of seven years before it was increased to nine years following an appeal by the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr Dolan said he wants to see longer sentences for the crime to help other families feel like they get justice.

He received an undertaking from former Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long that a new law to create tougher sentences would be brought in during the next assembly mandate.

While the collapse of the powersharing government has created uncertainty, Mr Dolan said they will continue to press to ensure it happens.

He also set up the Enda Dolan Foundation, inspired by his son's love of running, to encourage people to become involved in running fitness programmes.

He told the PA news agency he felt very humbled and honoured. "It's bittersweet because if our son Enda wasn't killed, this wouldn't be happening, but you have to take what comes to you, and make the best of it as much as you can, and that's what I've done," he said.

"We have been working hard to try and change the law in relation to death by dangerous driving, and trying to promote road safety.

"We're making slow steady progress on that, and hopefully in the months to come the law will be implemented. Currently the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving is 14 years, we want to get that extended to 20 years, whenever Stormont is back in action.

"I'm also lucky that I have a great family and a great team around me to allow me to do these things, because without the team I have, I wouldn't be able to do the things that I do, promoting health and wellbeing, running and fighting for changing the law.

"It's time-consuming but hopefully somewhere along the line it'll be worth it when we get the law changed."

Mr Dolan described the court process as encouraging him to try to push for changes.

"The injustices with the sentencing and coming out of court with the accused getting a sentence of a few years didn't really sit well with me - from that I tried to see if we could do something," he said.

"We found out that the maximum sentence that somebody could get for death by dangerous driving was 14 years, and of that seven years would be in prison, and seven years out on licence.

"That didn't rest easy with me, so from that I got the bit between my teeth and talked to various different people, pushed on, tried to knock on various doors, kept shouting and kept knocking until I got some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.

"It won't help me because it's too late but it could help another family who won't know it themselves yet, but somewhere down the line, they will come out of court and they still will be grieving for their lost loved one, but maybe they might feel like they have got justice, and if they have got justice then I think I will have achieved what I want to achieve."

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