Clare Daly speeding case: timeline of court appearances

TD was fined €300 after changing plea from guilty to not guilty of speeding offence

Clare Daly TD uses Dáil privilege to discuss a judge who had presided over a case in which she was involved.

 

Thursday, October 13th

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly is listed to answer a case of speeding at Naas District Court. The court heard her car was detected travelling at 59km/h in a 50km/h zone at Ballymany, Newbridge, Co Kildare.

Hers was the last case on the list, at number 188.

As the day dragged on, and it became clear that if she was to be heard at all, it would be much later in the day, she informed her solicitor Cairbre Finan, from Naas firm Wilkinson and Price that she must leave. His instructions were to make her excuses and plead guilty to the charge.

Later that afternoon she attended an Oireachtas Agriculture Committee meeting where the governance of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) was being discussed.

Towards the end of the court day, Judge Desmond Zaidan block adjourned all remaining cases numbered from 175 onwards to a further date, on the basis that they would not be heard that day. However, he instructed that Ms Daly’s case, at number 188, be heard.

Mr Finan told Judge Zaidan his client had attended court that morning but had now left. He said he has instructions to plead guilty.

Judge Zaidan said the defendant should be present and that he would issue a bench warrant. He asked what she did for a living.

“She tells me she is a TD,” Mr Finan said.

Judge Zaidan says that as a TD, she should know better because TDs make the law. He said the court was very busy and it was “total disrespect for this court” and “an insult” for her to leave.

Mr Finan said no disrespect was intended.

Judge Zaidan said Ms Daly should have asked the court to leave. “What message is she sending to the people of Ireland?”

“The least she could do is to tell you (Mr Finan) why she was leaving. If she has no respect for me as a human being… have a little respect for the office I hold.”

Mr Finan asked that the case be adjourned for one week and that a bench warrant not be issued.

Judge Zaidan said he did not adjourn cases in the absence of the defendant when they were legally represented, to protect everyone, including the lawyers and gardaí.

He then issued the bench warrant with discretion and adjourned the matter until November 3rd.

Later that day, Ms Daly was informed of the bench warrant during a break in the committee hearing, and explains to the media that she was in court that morning but left to be in the Dáil.

The warrant was “only a distraction”, she told The Irish Times.

Tuesday, October 18th

Ms Daly appeared at Swords District Court. She had met gardaí by arrangement in the vicinity of court and was then taken before the judge to execute the warrant.

Ms Daly signed a bail bond committing to her appearance in Naas District court on Wednesday, October 26th.

Wednesday, October 26th

Ms Daly was one of 102 cases listed before Judge Zaidan at Naas District Court.

At a point shortly before lunch, Judge Zaidan directed that all those cases listed from number 51 to 57, and 59 to 101 to make their way upstairs in Naas courthouse to Court Number 3 where Judge Alan Mitchell was sitting.

Ms Daly’s case was number 58.

When her case was called, Mr Finan stood to represent her and explained that his client wished to convey that there was no insult intended or implied in her actions on October 13th.

He said his client wished to change her plea to not guilty but Judge Zaidan would not allow it unless a reason was provided.

“Today the case is listed for sentencing,” he said, before adjourning the matter briefly to allow Ms Daly to confer with Mr Finan.

When the case was called again about 20 minutes later, Mr Finan said the position remained that she wishes to change her plea to not guilty.

He said he would have to excuse himself from the case following the change of instructions.

Judge Zaidan reiterated that the case was in for sentencing and refused to allow her the change of plea.

He invited Garda Inspector Patsy Glennon to outline the facts of the case.

Inspector Glennon did so and says the defendant had two previous convictions dating back to the same incident when she breached the perimeter of Shannon Airport.

When the judge invited Mr Finan to address the evidence presented against his client, Ms Daly interrupted court proceedings to say that it was “very unfair on Mr Finan”.

The judge cut her off and told Mr Finan to continue and told her to “stand up straight”.

The judge summarised the case. He said the bench warrant was issued because Mr Finan had been unable to give a reason for why she had left.

He fined Ms Daly €300. Recognisances were fixed.

Later, in the Dáil, speaking during the Private Members’ debate on the establishment of a judicial appointments commission, she referred to the case and criticised Judge Zaidan.