Ming admits timing 'atrocious'
INDEPENDENT TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan is standing by his comments that the Garda Siochana is "a corrupt police force" but admitted the timing was "bloody atrocious".
He apologised for making the remarks on the eve of the funeral of murdered Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.
But he said he was standing by his views on the "substantive issue" made during a televised interview.
Mr Flanagan came under attack last night from Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who said his remarks were "disgraceful".
Mr Flanagan was on a list of speakers for the Technical Group and was due to speak for two minutes last night, in a debate on the Fianna Fail motion opposing garda station closures.
But the Independent TD didn't show up. "Considering the disgraceful remarks he made last night about the Garda Siochana, I am surprised that he should not be in the House," said Mr Shatter.
In the interview, Mr Flanagan described the release of information by gardai about fellow left- wing Independent deputy Clare Daly's arrest on suspicion of drink-driving as "vindictive".
"I apologise for the timing, but the point was correct," he told the Irish Independent.
"I said there was corruption in the gardai and there is. It would be naive to say there wasn't.
"There are many who are being silenced when they try to do something about corruption."
He said this could be seen in recent controversy about the alleged writing-off of penalty points for prominent individuals, and corruption in the Donegal force that was previously brought to light.
The deputy said he chose the wrong time to make his comments but would return to the issue of garda corruption in future debates.
Mr Flanagan came under fire for his comments on 'Tonight with Vincent Browne' on TV3 on Tuesday night.
He said the release of information about Clare Daly's arrest was a vindictive action "by, in my opinion, a corrupt police force".
The TD said he knew a Fine Gael man, not far from his constituency, whose drink-driving offence was not made public.
"And I believe that one of the reasons why it is a corrupt police force is because there is no oversight," he said, adding that it meant all gardai were under suspicion of corruption because of it, and that was unfair. However, later on in the programme, he said he did not believe the force as a whole was corrupt.
He said his point was that there was no proper procedure to make a complaint, and this brought all gardai into disrepute.
When asked for a response to Mr Flanagan's comments, the Garda Representative Association said "it was the wrong day to comment on anything like that".