Woman who failed to pay TV licence fine taken to jail in five-hour taxi trip
The State spent thousands of euro sending five women to prison by taxi on the same day for non-payment of fines, and releasing them all hours later.
One woman, who was driven from east Donegal to Dublin, told the Irish Independent how two gardai arrived at her home at 7.10am and arrested her. She had paid €212 of a €450 court fine issued for not having a TV licence.
She said her 11-year-old son was crying as she was taken to her local garda station before being transferred to a taxi for the journey to Dublin.
As two gardaí were accompanying her, the taxi had to go via Sligo as they could not travel through the North.
"I was in total shock," the 43-year-old woman said last night.
"I had been paying off the fine and I wanted to finish the payment so I was taken aback to see gardaí at my door.
"My wee boy was at the top of the stairs crying his eyes out. Thankfully my 21-year-old daughter was there at the time and she could look after him otherwise I don't know what would have happened."
She said she was embarrassed as she was taken into a taxi run by a local man in her village in east Donegal.
"It was terrible, just an awful experience," she said.
"It was such a long journey. We stopped twice on the way for food and coffee and I was taken to the women's prison at Mountjoy, getting there just after noon.
"The staff there were lovely and I met four other women who were arrested for the same thing, non-payment of fines related to TV licences. All of us were freed just after 3pm and we shared a taxi to Busáras. We were given bus tickets to get home again. I was back home at 9pm and I was so happy to see my boy again. It was an awful experience."
In her case alone, the estimated cost of the arrest was €1,000 including €300 for the taxi, garda hours costing around €400, meals, the €20 bus fare and the loss of the entire €238 owed in fines.
Gardai want the fines system overhauled, transferring court fines to Revenue.