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Thursday 21 September 2017

So, where are you coming from Deputy Wallace?

Now look who is pulled on Pembroke St

Liam Collins

Liam Collins

COLOURFUL TD Mick Wallace was spoken to by gardai on bank holiday Friday evening at what has now become known as 'Checkpoint Shatter'.

As our exclusive photograph shows, three gardai, one holding a breathalyser, took more than a passing interest when Mr Wallace was pulled in – along with other motorists – outside Matt The Thrasher public house on Dublin's Pembroke Street at 6.40pm. This is the exact spot where Justice Minister Alan Shatter was stopped some years ago.

Mr Wallace had just left Doheny & Nesbitt's pub on Baggot Street and when he turned to drive up towards Fitzwilliam Square in his left-hand drive car, he, along with at least five other motorists, was pulled to one side by gardai on duty at the checkpoint which stretched along the street.

Although 'Checkpoint Shatter' is one of the most visible checkpoints in the city, it has a habit of disappearing off the garda radar.

Bizarrely, gardai cannot find any written record or report of the checkpoint from which Mr Shatter allegedly drove off after failing to complete a breath test a number of years ago.

Nor, according to the minister and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, is there any report on file of the incident from gardai who were at the scene.

A spat between Mr Wallace – who has championed the penalty point whistle-blowers – and Mr Shatter on RTE opened up the debate on whether politicians should have immunity from prosecution just because they are 'coming from the Dail'.

Mr Shatter has since revealed that the Garda Commissioner told him that Mr Wallace had been caught by gardai on his mobile phone at traffic lights – although the gardai did not formally report the incident.

This then led to revelations in the Dail by independent TD Mattie McGrath that Mr Shatter himself had been breathalysed in an incident outside Matt The Thrasher pub in Pembroke Street.

When Mr Shatter was stopped at exactly the same spot – he says in late 2008 or early 2009 – he told gardai he could not complete a breath test due to asthma.

Mr Shatter then told gardai he was "coming from the Dail" – which would make him immune from arrest.

According to reports of the incident in the Irish Independent last week – which Mr Shatter has not contradicted – gardai at the checkpoint felt Mr Shatter was not fully co-operative and did not mention that he was asthmatic as the reason he could not complete the breath test.

The garda who stopped Mr Shatter felt he was not fully co-operative and was asked by the then Fine Gael frontbench spokesman: "Don't you know who I am?"

What Mr Wallace had to say to the gardai at 'Checkpoint Shatter' on Friday is not known as he declined to return phone calls to confirm or deny that he was asked to blow into the breathalyser.

Mr Wallace has also claimed that he was the victim of an unlawful arrest as he was questioned repeatedly about allegations published earlier this month.

He was speaking last week at a press conference, where he and fellow independent TDs Clare Daly, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and Joan Collins sought to highlight problems arising out of the recent investigation into penalty points.

Mr Wallace was wrongfully arrested for directing traffic while working on a construction site on Thomas Street in Dublin in September 2000.

Sunday Independent

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