Angry bog workers want to turf out Ming
There is a split in the Irish Turf Cutters Association over independent TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan following the penalty points saga, first revealed by the Sunday Independent three weeks ago.
Mr Flanagan, the association's public relations officer, has been the subject of fierce criticism since it was revealed that he sought to have penalty points wiped from his licence.
Officially, a spokesman for the turf cutters said this weekend that "Luke continues to hold this role", but the Sunday Independent understands Mr Flanagan's position is now in question from members who want to disassociate themselves from the TD who has been an unswerving advocate for them.
It is clear that many in the group have been deeply angered by his conduct in relation to the penalty points controversy.
A Ming loyalist and senior figure in the Irish Turf Cutters Association said he was "standing by his man".
"He is PRO and has been democratically elected to do that role," he said.
"We still stand by our rights to cut our own turf on our own bogs, and Ming supports our view.
"He is a TD for all the people of his constituency and what happened is his business. He has kept the turf-cutting issue alive and was the only TD to stand beside turf cutters. I wouldn't believe a lot of the bulls**t that is going on."
The manner in which Mr Flanagan had his penalty points wiped and then initially denied he had done so – when he had earlier lambasted gardai for giving "insiders" preferential treatment – has damaged his standing.
He failed to respond to queries this weekend from the Sunday Independent.
When the turf cutters association was contacted, we were told their "PR people" are not available until Tuesday, indicating that Mr Flanagan is not currently acting as PRO.
The TD has admitted his actions over penalty points were "corrupt" and said he regretted the controversy, insisting he was trying to highlight a culture of "cronyism".