Irish News

Friday 25 July 2014

Flanagan begged gardai to wipe points as offence was 'a once off'

Fionnan Sheahan and Caroline Crawford

Published 14/03/2013|04:00

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Luke 'Ming' Flanagan says he will not resign as a TD. Inset: The TD on his phone whilst in his car

Corrupt TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan pleaded with gardai to wipe his fine for using his mobile phone while driving, claiming it was a "once off" and would never be repeated.

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The Independent TD was caught twice by gardai driving while on his phone within a six-month period – and the penalty points were quashed both times.

Appealing to have the penalty waived, in a letter to gardai, Mr Flanagan also said it was the first time he was stopped for this offence and it was "not my practice ever to take calls while driving".

And there is now confusion over whether the second incident happened before he became a TD in December 2010 or afterwards in December 2011.

In the first case, Mr Flanagan was driving on the outskirts of his hometown in Roscommon on the Friday of the 2011 June bank holiday weekend and claimed he was on his way to the Dail on a non-sitting day. The Independent TD was in the Dail the previous day and is recorded as voting at lunchtime on Thursday, June 2. But there is no record of him being in the Dail the following day.

He did not clock in as being in the Dail on the Friday, although he is not obliged to do so and it is only an option for TDs.

However, the TD did sign in as attending in the Dail on another Friday later in the same month, which was also a non-sitting day.

Mr Flanagan is clinging onto his Dail seat as his version of events of having penalty points quashed is already being contradicted.

He now admits it was "corrupt" to write to gardai to have penalty points invalidated – and admitted letting constituents down. But he insists he will not be resigning.

After being stopped by gardai for driving while on the phone on June 3, 2011, Mr Flanagan wrote to the gardai a month later. He said he was driving to Dublin at the time on Dail business. He said he answered the phone because he thought the call might be about a family member who was sick at the time. However, it wasn't a family call, it was about his work as a TD.

Asking to have the penalty written off, he said it was a "once off" incident and said there would be no repeat.

Mr Flanagan now says it was corrupt to write and ask to have the penalty points written off.

"On the issue of the penalty points it was corrupt what I did so draw your own conclusions from that," he said yesterday on Shannonside radio.

The fallout from the second incident of Mr Flanagan being let off is also continuing. Roscommon county manager Frank Dawson confirmed he is the official referred to by Mr Flanagan as having "sorted out" the TD's penalty points.

Reputation

However, he rejected the allegations completely and said he will protect his good name. He said Mr Flanagan did mention in a conversation with him in December 2010 that he was stopped by gardai for using a mobile phone while driving outside the council offices.

"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. Today I am forwarding my account of this matter to the assistant commissioner of An Garda Siochana in charge of the investigation," he said.

The council official had been due to travel to Tucson, Arizona, today for the city's St Patrick's Day celebrations but has now cancelled the trip in order to deal with the allegations.

Revelations about Mr Flanagan provoked an angry response including from PR guru Terry Prone who described him as a "nasty, lying, manipulative, law-breaking creepy politician".

She added: "He broke the law several times. He got caught. He evaded punishment while campaigning that nobody should be able to evade punishment.

"In addition, he's trying to get righteous by demanding his points back. Luke Flanagan is by far the biggest disappointment in the current Dail."

John Downing

Irish Independent

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