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Sunday 22 October 2017

Brazen TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan now admits four points quashed

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan
Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Independent TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan has finally admitted he had penalty points quashed -- twice -- for using a mobile phone while driving.

Mr Flanagan had previously denied to this newspaper having penalty points written off.

He also led a campaign to 'out' people who had penalty points quashed.

His confession in the Dail was forced after revelations that he was the beneficiary of the system that only a few months ago he described as corrupt.

The Roscommon TD claims a garda sergeant and a county council official were involved in having the penalty points he incurred wiped.

Mr Flanagan says he has now written to the authorities seeking to have the penalty points put back on his licence.

He made a keenly-awaited statement in the Dail as part of a speech on a piece of criminal law. But several TDs pointed out they had never asked for penalty points to be wiped out -- unlike Mr Flanagan.

Mr Flanagan said he was detected by gardai in June 2011 while travelling to the Dail for a meeting and a fixed penalty notice arrived to his home address.

He said he later "bumped into a garda sergeant" who, he said, "insisted" he write to have the points wiped out.

"He told me that I was covered under the rule in relation to travelling to the Dail. 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," he said.

Mr Flanagan says the second incident occurred in December 2011 when he was driving into a Roscommon County Council meeting. He says a council official rang him to say he had "sorted out" his points.

The Independent TD had an elaborate explanation for his failure to reveal his penalty points were wiped out until now. He said he had "intended to do so" upon the publication of Justice Minister Alan Shatter's internal review into the entire affair.

"Now that wasn't my original idea, but eventually as far as I was concerned, I worked out, this was where it would have the most impact.

"The intended effect of this was that on the day the review was launched, I would have been able to clearly show that there is systematic abuse, something which I believe the report will attempt to whitewash over," he said.

Later during a televised interview on TV3, Mr Flanagan denied that he approached gardai to get penalty points quashed. "I was approached by a guard on the street. He suggested that," he said.

"My first thoughts were that there's no point doing that, and he said it again. He suggested I was doing nothing wrong." He said he was telephoned by the council official the second time, and had made no approach himself.

He insisted he was not engaged in any corrupt act."I would say I was corrupt if I had approached them - the fact they approached me would suggest it was endemic."

Presented Vincent Browne said: "You're up to your neck in it." Mr Flanagan replied: "Maybe it looks like that... My point is this is endemic, this is something that goes on."

The TD said that the council official he had implicated in the affair should now come forward to identify themselves.

Mr Flanagan has also challenged other TDs and senators who had penalty points written off to come forward. But a number of TDs were unimpressed by his claims.

Fine Gael TD John O'Mahony hit back at Mr Flanagan's criticism of gardai. Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary said he has incurred penalty points driving to the Dail, often travelling through Roscommon, but was "never asked" to have them written off. "Nor did I ever write a letter to seek them to be expunged," he said.

"This holier-than-thou attitude is just crazy."

Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell said Mr Flanagan seemed to have "a support network" when it comes to penalty points.

Despite last night's admission by Mr Flanagan, when he was asked by the Irish Independent last December if his name was on the list of people with penalty points written off, he categorically denied it.

"No. In fact I went to court when I was a councillor to appeal two points and ended up with four," he told this newspaper on December 13 last.

Mr Flanagan was one of a group of TDs warned not to bring up the matter of penalty points being wiped in the Dail because it could be "defamatory". But several Independent and small-party TDs, Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Joan Collins and Mr Flanagan, still tried to raise the issue last December.

Around that time, Mr Flanagan's name was circulating as an alleged beneficiary of the removal of penalty points from licences -- and he was contacted by this newspaper to comment.

Yet Mr Flanagan denied he was on the list.

Irish Independent

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