Luke Ming admits penalty points wiped
Independent Deputy Luke Ming Flanagan speaking in the Dail last night (March 12) admitted having two sets of penalty point offences squashed in 2012.
Speaking on the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 he stated “On 3 June I was heading to Dublin in my car for a meeting in the Dáil building when I was stopped by a Garda car. I had been using my phone. The garda in question told me I would be receiving a fine. I distinctly remember thanking the garda for doing his job well and commenting that his actions might extend my life. I headed off on my business and received a fixed penalty notice in the post. A few days later I bumped into a Garda sergeant who informed me he was aware I had received a notice. He asked me what had happened and I told him the story. He told me I was covered under the rule on travelling to the Dáil. I informed him that 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. I will supply the name of the garda in question to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, in order that he can use it in his internal review of the penalty points issue.”
He went on to say “That is not all, however. In December 2011, I attended a meeting in the Roscommon County Council building. When I was approaching the roundabout coming up to the building, I was stopped by the Garda and informed that I would be receiving a fixed penalty points notice because I was on my mobile phone again. I said “Okay” and headed into the meeting. At the meeting I casually mentioned that I had been foolishly using my mobile phone while driving and would be getting two penalty points. The meeting proceeded and afterwards I drove home.
“When I spotted my phone ringing approximately ten minutes into my journey - I learn a lesson eventually - I pulled in to answer it. A senior county council official was on the phone. He informed me that he had sorted out my penalty points issue for me. To this day, I have not received penalty points or a fine.”
Commenting on the two cases he said, “Whatever about the case in which the penalty points were removed on the grounds that I was travelling to the Dáil, there is no case for what happened in this situation. Not only is a cohort of gardaí going around asking people if they want penalty points cancelled, but it also appears that there is a franchise system, whereby a person who is cosy with a senior garda can have people’s offences quashed. As I have suggested, the Bill before the House has been put together by people who come from areas where crime is very low. If they ever commit an offence, they will never have to face charges. The Garda Commissioner and the Minister might not believe this is true.
“When the Garda Commissioner announced the penalty points fraud investigation, he said, “There is no question of what has been described as a culture of non-enforcement of penalties being tolerated by An Garda Síochána.” How can my experience be explained in that context? I did not ask the Garda sergeant in question to get involved, but he insisted that he should. I do not believe it was an attempt to trip me up. I believe it is a culture which has festered for years. All the garda was doing was what he had learned along the way. Leaving that case aside, it is quite extraordinary to think a senior county council official would feel confident that approaching a senior garda would enable him to have penalty points quashed for a citizen.”
Asnwering why he did not release this information earlier, Deputy Flanagan said “I had understood it was illegal for gardaí to release such confidential information. Strictly speaking, I was the only one who could release such information. I had intended to do so on publication of the internal review by the Minister. That was not my original idea, but I eventually worked out that this was where it would have the most impact. My intention was to be able to show clearly on the day of the launch of the review that there was systematic abuse, something I believe the report will attempt to whitewash.”
He concluded saying “Corruption is like rust. It starts out small and cannot be seen, but if it is not kept in check, it corrodes everything. That is what is happening in the Garda Síochána.”
Deputy Flanagan said he has contacted the fines office in County Clare to ask how he can have the points and fines imposed.
Today, March 13, Roscommon County Manager Frank Dawson has rejected an allegation by Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan that he “sorted out” penalty points for the Independent TD.
In a statement, Mr Dawson said he assumed he was the official Mr Flanagan was referring to in recent statements.
He said, “I utterly reject his allegations that I ‘sorted out his penalty points issue’ for him. I will take all necessary steps to protect my good name and reputation.”
Mr Dawson said he is going to forward his account of the matter to the Garda Assistant Commissioner who is in charge of the investigation.
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