A CHURCH of Ireland Reverend stopped by a garda for speeding while on his way to a Communion told her "he didn't give a f**k" and that she could chase him if she wanted.
Rev Canon Bob Hanna (68) was stopped for driving 135km in a 100km zone.
Gda Elizabeth McDonagh told the court she had stopped Canon Hanna's car on the dual carriageway at Bunratty West, in Shannon.
She said he demanded to know why he had been stopped and became verbally abusive towards her.
When she told him he had been stopped for exceeding the limit, she said Canon Hanna responded: "I don't give a f**k. I'm late."
At this point she said he "snapped" his driver's license back from her and began repeatedly revving the engine of his car.
The garda said he then told her: "I'm leaving, chase me if you want."
He added: "Religious week, I hope you're prosecuting everybody."
Judge Patrick Durcan said the cleric's behaviour was "despicable".
"Now that I know the defendant is a Minister of Religion, I am even more appalled," he said, imposing a €500 fine and disqualifying him from the roads for six months.
Canon Hanna did not appear in Ennis District Court on Friday and was not represented in court. However, the cleric apologised to Gda McDonagh for his behaviour on April 17 this year and said he "deeply regretted using abusive language" in a statement released on his behalf last night.
Canon Hanna, who is the rector of St Columba's Church in Ennis, previously made headlines after he issued a statement denying a character reference he wrote for former school principal Pat Barry was in defence of the notorious paedophile.
He was later criticised for giving another character reference for a woman convicted of stealing €27,000 from a nursing home.
The church's Archdeacon Wayne Carney last night said: "I have spoken to Canon Hanna, and he deeply regrets using abusive language to the Garda who stopped him, and wishes to apologise to her for his behaviour.
"He is also sorry to have missed being present when his case came before the court.
"As a diocese, we encourage full respect for the Garda Siochana and the laws they enforce and support them in the important role they carry out," he added.