News Courts

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Case thrown out after TD failed to get penalty notice

Patsy McArdle and Niall O'Connor

Published 16/04/2014 | 02:30

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Sean Conlon, Fine Gael deputy for Cavan-Monaghan. Photo: Tom Burke
Sean Conlon, Fine Gael deputy for Cavan-Monaghan. Photo: Tom Burke

A GOVERNMENT politician had a speeding summons dismissed because he claimed he never received a fixed penalty notice in the post.

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Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan has called for an urgent overhaul of the fixed penalty system after he was one of six people to have their cases thrown out at a sitting of Monaghan District Court. Mr Conlan told the court that he had "not received any fixed penalty notice" and therefore only became aware of the speeding charge after he received a summons.

Five other respondents also had their cases dismissed, upon assuring Judge Sean MacBride that the first they knew of the alleged speeding breaches was when they received a summons to appear in court.

These included John McCoy, a barrister who regularly represents defendants at court hearings in the north-east.

The number of cases prompted the judge to raise concern about the reliability of the "chain of evidence" in the system, which he said simply wasn't working.

He urged that all six cases be dismissed, including the case against Mr Conlan, before urging the first-time TD to raise the issue in the Dail.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Conlan said an urgent response from the Government was required to address flaws in the fixed penalty notice system.

"Every person is entitled to fair procedures. Under Irish law, everyone should receive a fixed penalty notice. I and a number of others in Monaghan did not receive those notices and therefore these cases were rightfully struck out," he said.

PROBLEM

"The system needs to change. Quite clearly this is a widespread problem that needs to be addressed nationwide."

Judge MacBride stated that he would like to see a dedicated garda traffic corps operating fixed garda cameras – with preliminary summonses served directly by gardai rather than being posted out.

He said his own preference would be that people would be given an option of paying a fine inside a set period of 30 days, for example. Judges were finding that the present system was not working, he said.

Irish Independent

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