Monday 1 May 2017

Wallace and Daly jail stint costs State up to €8,000

Mick Wallace addresses an anti-war protest at the Dáil last night
Mick Wallace addresses an anti-war protest at the Dáil last night

Niall O'Connor, Ken Foy and Kevin Doyle

The arrests and brief prison sentences served by TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly has cost the State up to €8,000.

the arrests and brief prison sentences served by TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly has cost the State up to €8,000.

The outspoken politicians returned to the Dáil yesterday after being arrested and imprisoned for the non-payment of fines arising from their security breaches at Shannon airport.

Two pairs of gardai were assigned to separately drive Mr Wallace and Ms Daly to Limerick Prison, where they were processed and released within hours.

Security and prison sources agree that a bill of about €8,000 was incurred when factors such as fuel, staff costs and administration are taken into account.

Sources said gardaí expected the decision to arrest the pair and drive them to Limerick prison would prove controversial.

But the same sources said they had "no option" given that the pair were convicted in Ennis Court - which is of close proximity to Limerick prison.

Ms Daly was released just before 11pm on Wednesday night - several hours after Mr Wallace also walked free from the jail.

Speaking following her release, a furious Ms Daly said their experience demonstrations the need to change the justice system.

"It's utter lunacy. We are on the Dail record already as saying the whole system of courts and fines is a completely unworkable," the Dublin Fingal TD said.

"It's a waste of garda resources, it's a waste of prison staff resources and this Government has sat on its hands in terms of bringing in a serious alternative."

Prison sources emphasised that in cases of non-payment of fines, those convicted are often released within a number of hours depending on the circumstances.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Joan Burton yesterday said both TDs had "significant incomes" and there was a need for "a national system of people being able to pay fines at source or to have them deducted from their income".

She said the arrests led to "a lot of garda resources, which are needed elsewhere, [being] devoted to the two deputies and prison resources".

"I think this could be dealt with a different way by direct deduction and payment of fines from income and salaries," she said.

The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act, which will allow courts to place an attachment onto people's income to pay fines, is due to come into force on January 11.

Mr Wallace was back in Leinster House by 9am yesterday where he quizzed the junior minister at the Department of Environment Paudie Coffey about housing issues.

He also hit out at the Government for what he claimed was their role in the migrant crisis.

"It is unfortunate that we pretend we are not facilitating it, but we are complicit by allowing Shannon Airport to be used as a US military airbase," he said.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, who is himself facing trial for the alleged false imprisonment of Ms Burton, said it was "truly shameful to see deputies Wallace and Daly jailed for their part in highlighting the disgusting role the Irish Government has played and continues to play in facilitating warmongering and the killing of ordinary people in the Middle East through the use of Shannon Airport".

Ms Daly and Mr Wallace were intercepted by airport security and subsequently arrested on July 22 last year after they made it onto a grass verge next to taxiway 11, on the Shannon Airport runway apron.

A US military Hercules C-130 was parked off a main runway at the time, along with another military plane.

A lunchtime flight from London Heathrow was making a final approach when the pair were detained and it landed without incident.

Several people have now been prosecuted for infringements at the airport including Margaretta D'Arcy, a friend of President Michael D Higgins' wife Sabina.

Irish Independent

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