Tuesday 17 October 2017

Flanagan hasn't asked for Dail time to explain penalty points denials

Fionnan Sheahan and Caroline Crawford

INDEPENDENT TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan is continuing to try to deflect attention from his denials of getting penalty points written off his own driving licence.

Mr Flanagan claims he will reveal all in a statement in the Dail this evening.

But the TD has not asked for permission to speak on the topic and it is thought unlikely he will be given a slot to address the controversy.

Aside from denying to the Irish Independent that he had his penalty points invalidated, the TD also denied publicly on social media at Christmas he had penalty points for driving with a mobile phone quashed.

Mr Flanagan continued to evade questions about the circumstances around the cancellation of his penalty points arising out of an incident in June 2011.

He pointed the finger at the gardai, rather than outlining his own involvement.

"Won't be saying anything until the Dail tomorrow. However, you could ask the gardai why they approached me and insisted I write to have points revoked.

Statement

"Is this normal practice? Will the gardai be making a statement on the matter? Is it only TDs who get contacted or are other members of the public contacted by the gardai to tell them they should have points revoked?

"The big issue is why did the gardai contact me in the first place? Will talk after Dail statement," he told Shannonside Radio.

But it is not at all clear how Mr Flanagan intends to explain his position in the Dail.

Despite announcing at the weekend that he would be making a statement at 6pm this evening, the Independent TD has yet to request time to make a statement.

The procedure is for a TD to make an official request to the Ceann Comhairle to make a statement on a personal matter.

But Mr Flanagan has not gone down this route.

"It would be up to the Ceann Comhairle to schedule time for him to make a statement.

"There is nothing to stop him standing up on the Order of Business and making a song and dance. The likelihood there is he will be shut down straight away. The Ceann Comhairle won't put up with that," a Leinster House source said.

The controversial TD's hometown remained divided yesterday as the usually outspoken politician stayed silent.

His wife Judy answered the door at the family home but said her husband was involved in constituency business in Roscommon.

Keeping a low profile in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, he was refusing to return calls or answer messages.

Mr Flanagan did not attend his constituency office.

His assistant told the Irish Independent that Mr Flanagan was in meetings all day.

The Independent TD attended a meeting in Longford yesterday on plans for the future of Harristown House, which has been earmarked for development as an open prison.

The meeting, which lasted over 90 minutes, took place at the Prison Service Headquarters in Longford.

Mr Flanagan attended the meeting along with a number of Roscommon TDs and councillors, where repeated references were made by his colleagues to the penalty points matter.

"He was absolutely totally relaxed. There were plenty of people joking about it and about missing points but he laughed it off," a source said.

Locals in Castlerea were divided on whether or not they supported the politician but the prevailing attitude was they wanted an explanation from Mr Flanagan himself.

Irish Independent

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