TDs more likely to have penalty points
An Irish Times survey of the 165 Dáil members has revealed they are far more likely to have penalty points for driving offences than the general population.
Some 91 TDs responded to queries from this newspaper relating to penalty points. Almost half have at least two points endorsed on their licences. This compares to the national statistics that show one in three drivers carry penalty points.
All the Deputies who responded confirmed they never had penalty points quashed or cancelled. This question related to the dossier produced by four Independent TDs which they said came from two whistleblowers within the Garda Síochána.
The Deputies – Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Luke Ming Flanagan and Joan Collins – contended that the dossier contained evidence of 37,000 speeding tickets that had been quashed over the past four years on the orders of senior gardaí. The issue is the subject of an internal investigation ordered by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Some 48 of the 91 TDs confirmed they have no penalty points at present, with 23 stating they had two points or more.
A further 12 have four points, two TDs have five points, five have six points, and one has seven points.
The evidence shows that in general TDs tend to have accumulated more speeding offences than the general population of drivers, a statistic explained by the fact that many clock up thousands of kilometres each year travelling from their constituencies to Leinster House and on general constituency travel.
On a regional basis, TDs from Connacht-Ulster and the rest of Leinster have a preponderance of points, with a higher proportion having two points or more compared to Dublin or Munster.
Ministers of State
The only exception to the general trend was Dublin. Three-quarters of TDs from the capital who responded had no penalty points, compared to less than half in the other three regions.
A little over half of the Dáil’s 165 TDs responded to the query.
While two senior Ministers and three Ministers of State were among the respondents (none had penalty points), almost 30 office holders (including all Ministers and Ministers of State) have Garda or civilian drivers.
The information on penalty points was sought from Deputies on a strictly confidential or no-names basis.
Several TDs contacted by telephone were not prepared to divulge the information on the basis that it compromises their privacy.
They saw no obligation, or public need, to disclose it, even anonymously. One TD’s response (minus the expletives) was: “You will want to know what I am eating for my dinner next.”
There may be a slight bias towards low points totals in the results on the basis that Dáil Deputies with more points might have been less inclined to disclose the information.
Deputies were not asked the specific nature of the offence but from follow-up telephone interviews, driving at excessive speed accounted for the vast majority of them.
One TD received two points for driving while using a phone.
Several complained about “sneaky” speed traps where gardaí or the Gatso van were positioned, where they said the road was safe and wide but where the speed limits seemed arbitrarily low.
Others cited speed traps on the Stillorgan dual-carriageway on the outer limits of Dublin city, where there were multi-laned roads yet 60km/h speed limits, and 60km/h speed limits on national roads up to three kilometres from a town or village.
While the highest figure divulged was seven points, two TDs said they had eight points in the past. And at least five of those with no points had points endorsed on their licences that had since expired. One of those who had eight points in the past said he became so scared of losing his licence he obsessively obeyed all speed limits. Points normally expire after three years.
Points were introduced by the government in 2002 and cover 48 categories of offence. Some 570,000 drivers have two points or more, according to the latest available statistics, comprising one-third of all drivers.
Disclosure:Harry McGee has two penalty points endorsed on his driving licence.