Friday 14 December 2018

'There was nobody else to get my son - it was a last minute thing' - Jason Byrne on driving with no insurance or licence

Comedian Jason Byrne
Comedian Jason Byrne
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Ireland's Got Talent judge Jason Byrne, who avoided a driving ban at Swords District Court last month, insists he is a "cautious" driver who has "never crashed a car".

The comedian pleaded guilty to driving without insurance or a driving licence, but said in court he was only driving on the day as he had to collect his 10-year-old son from school.

The funnyman told the Herald that he knows it was wrong to get in his car that day but he was left with no other choice.

Judge Brian O'Shea said in court that he was "impressed" with Byrne's honesty, after the comedian came clean about having 13 penalty points when he was stopped in his native village of Oldtown by a member of the Garda Traffic Unit.

"There was nobody else to get my son. It was just a last-minute thing," Byrne said.

"What I tell everyone is that if you're honest with cops and judges, then they look on it better. So I've never crashed a car or ever hurt anyone in my life, or drunk-driven. I actually am quite cautious like that.

"He's only 10. We've no pathway to the house.

"You still shouldn't do it, get in the car without your licence. But it was a child thing."

Denise Van Outen, Lucy Kennedy, Jason Byrne and Michelle Visage at TV3's new season launch at The National Concert Hall. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Denise Van Outen, Lucy Kennedy, Jason Byrne and Michelle Visage at TV3's new season launch at The National Concert Hall. Picture: Brian McEvoy

He said that he is not a regular road user anyway, as he's only here about six months of the year because he works so much overseas.

"I've never done anything wrong in my life, that's the problem," he said.

"I wouldn't mind if I was in there like a proper head but I didn't even know which way to face, I've never been in court. The judge was going, 'this way'.

"It was just weird going through it. It's done now."

He also spoke about the tragic death of fellow comic Sean Hughes this week, who died in hospital after a short illness.

"I knew Sean really well and it was like, 'what?' I have never known a comic that close to me pass away," he said.

"I didn't even know he was in hospital. Sean was like that. He wouldn't say, 'I'm very ill, you need to come and see me.' He would literally go in there on his own.

"It's quite a lonely job but Sean was going home to nobody so that's a really lonely space to be living in.

"His mum is dead and his dad is dead, and his brother's in Australia so he's on the way back." Byrne will be slipping into the judging panel on TV3's new series Ireland's Got Talent when it starts filming shortly. He reckons the country is full of untapped talent that needs to be explored.

"When you sit down and go through comics, musicians, writers, poets, the Irish are going around the world. The Riverdance thing was unbelievable," he said.

He advised anyone auditioning not to "try too hard" and simply enjoy the moment. There's just two weeks left before applications close at the end of the month.

Made by Kite Entertainment, the overall winner of the show will walk home with €50,000 and their own Christmas TV special.


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