Little support for Ming stance in home town
Luke Ming Flanagan was hoping yesterday that “the people who elected me will forgive me” but there was little hint of forgiveness on the streets of his home town.
Ming with his people: Independent TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan campaigning at Hyde Park, Roscommon. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
Luke Ming Flanagan was hoping yesterday that “the people who elected me will forgive me” but there was little hint of forgiveness on the streets of his home town, where words like “hard neck”, “hypocrite” and “disgrace” were being bandied about.
While a small number praised his efforts to highlight a culture where penalty points are frequently quashed for certain people, many in Castlerea expressed disappointment, anger and a lot of sympathy for the garda and the senior council official implicated by the TD.
Local resident Patricia Byrne said she had expected more from Mr Flanagan.
“I am disappointed with him. I thought he was better than that. He has been so good to many people but if you get penalty points, you have to accept them, no matter who you are. He has back-tracked and I do think he is a hypocrite.”
An elderly friend of Ms Byrne’s said she thought Mr Flanagan’s behaviour had been “a disgrace”.
For any politician to avail of the “on Dáil business” excuse was “a load of rubbish”, she added. A business man speaking outside his town centre premises, said Mr Flanagan had “shamed our town”.
He said it was hypocritical to have campaigned on the issue without revealing that his own penalty points were cancelled. “Everyone I have spoken to in town today feels let down. And the fact that he has named those who helped him – that is an ugly thing. I feel sorry for them”.
He said while the TD was very popular with farmers because of his stance on turf cutting, this was not the case in town. “He should resign.”
Seán Browne is no stranger to political drama. He is the owner of the Hell’s Kitchen pub in Castlerea where former Minister Seán Doherty gave his famous Nighthawks interview which led to Charlie Haughey ’s downfall.
Asked for his view on the penalty points controversy, he said he was sorry for the two people who had apparently helped Mr Flanagan. “It proves the old saying that no good turn goes unpunished.”
A middle-aged woman who has known the TD since he was a child said she was appalled by his behaviour. “I think he is a disgrace. But I’m not surprised. It is all about attention seeking and shock and awe with Ming. I think he is a hypocrite and I feel sorry for the gardaí. The gardaí in this town are very good. If cancelling penalty points is the only corrupt thing happening in this country, then it’s not a bad country.”
A man walking past the deputy’s constituency office, which is across the street from the Garda station and a few doors from the childhood home of Oscar Wilde ’s father William Robert Wills Wilde, also had strong views and turned out to be political rival.
“I think it’s a disgrace. He was accusing other people when he had his own points cancelled,” said Danny Burke, who was an Independent county councillor for 13 years.
“Ming took my seat in 2004 but this is not sour grapes. I think what he did was very hypocritical.” Pat Flanagan from Ballymoe, Co Roscommon, said Mr Flanagan had been “quite right” to highlight the fact that so many penalty points were being cancelled. “He was right to publicise that. I feel it is corrupt, absolutely rotten.
“It depends on who you are in this country – it has always been like that”.
However, Pat Flanagan said the politician’s campaign on this issue and his own situation were separate issues.
“He should have come clean in the first place. If he had come clean, it would have added more weight to his argument. He was wrong.”