Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan admits he had two sets of penalty points quashed

TD stopped twice for using mobile phone while driving

Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 21:25

Roscommon TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan had two sets of penalty points quashed, he disclosed in the Dáil tonight.

Mr Flanagan was one of a group of Indepedent TDs who launched a campaign some months ago attacking the gardaí for “wiping” the penalty points of prominent people.

His admission that his own penalty points were “wiped” followed the disclosure in last weekend’s Sunday Independent that he had been allowed to escape penalty points imposed in June 2011 for using his mobile phone while driving.

Mr Flanagan told the Dáil that the first incident happened on June 3rd, 2011, when he was heading for Dublin and was stopped by a garda.

“ I had been using my phone and the garda told me I would be receiving a fine,” said the TD, who added that he distinctly remembered thanking the garda in question for doing his job well.

“I headed off on my business and received a fixed penalty notice in the post,” said Mr Flanagan.

“A few days later I bumped into a garda seargent who told me he was aware I had received a notice. He asked me what had happened and I told him the story. He told me that I was covered under the rule in relation to travelling to the Dáil.I informed him there was no point but he insisted that I write to the station and explain. I did so and no points were added to my licence.”

Mr Flanagan said that he would supply the name of the garda seargent in question to the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter so that he could use it in his internal review of the penalty points sytem.

He added that he had planned to name the garda in the Dáil but was informed that he would not be allowed to do so.

Mr Flanagan said that a second incident had taken place in December of 2011 on his way to attend a meeting in the Roscommon County Council building.

“When I was approaching the roundabout coming up to the council building I was stopped by the gardai and informed that I would be receiving a penalty points notice because I was on my mobile phone. I said ok and headed into the meeting.

“At the meeting I casually mentioned that I had foolishly used my mobile phone when driving and would be getting two points. The meeting proceeded and afterwards I drove home.”

During the journey home the TD spotted his phone ringing and said he pulled in to answer it, having learned his lesson.

“On the phone was a senior county council official informing me that he had sorted out my penalty points issue for me. To this day I have neither received penalty points nor a fine.”

He said that there were no grounds for having the Dáil excuse used on this occasion and it appeared there was a franchise system working whereby people who had a cosy relationship with a senior garda could also have offences quashed.

Mr Flanagan said the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner had claimed a culture of non enforcement of penalties did not exist in the Garda Siochana.

“How can you explain my experience then. I did not ask the garda seargant in question to get involved but he insisted he should. I do not believe it was an attempt to trip me up. I believe it was the culture,” said the TD who added that it was quite extraordinary to think that a senior county coucil official could have an offence quashed.

Mr Flanagan said people might ask why he did not release this inforamtion before some of it appeared in the press. He said he had intened to release it when the Minister published his internal review.

He also disclosed that he had been given four penalty points on appeal in Roscommon Courthouse some years ago before he was a TD.

Mr Flanagan said that he had now contacted the fines office in Co Clare and asked how he could get back his fines and penalty points.

He called on the 15 TDs and senators who had allegedly got their penalty points quashed to say wheether they had been approached about the matter or whether they had taken a proactive approach to getting their points removed.

Last Christmas in an exchange on Twitter Mr Flanagan denied that he had got penalty points imposed for using a mobile phone while driving quashed.