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Monday 20 November 2017

Flanagan did not tell truth on penalty points being wiped

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

INDEPENDENT TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan categorically denied late last year getting penalty points written off his own driving licence.

But it has now emerged he had his own points "invalidated" after he was stopped by gardai for driving while using a mobile phone.

The Roscommon TD has criticised the wiping out of penalty points, describing it as "corruption".

Yet when asked by the Irish Independent last December if it was true his name was on the list of people with penalty points written off, he categorically denied it.

"No. In fact I went to court when I was a councillor to appeal two points and ended up with four," he told this newspaper on December 13 last.

Mr Flanagan ceased to be a councillor in March 2011 when he was elected as a TD in the general election.

The case where he was caught driving with a mobile phone happened three months later, in June 2011.

He is believed to have insisted to gardai he was on "Dail business" and therefore was exempt from penalty points.

The Independent TD was unavailable for comment on the report in the 'Sunday Independent' yesterday revealing his own case of penalty points being written off.

But he did respond to a number of queries from members of the public on social media, claiming he will divulge the full details in the Dail this week.

He says his "plan" was to wait for Justice Minister Alan Shatter's internal investigation on penalty points to be published and "expose the real facts".

"Watch the Dail at 6 on Tuesday. I will reveal how gardai contacted me to ask would I like my penalty points wiped," he said on Twitter.

Mr Flanagan also says people would be "surprised" to hear who called to offer to have his points wiped.

"Not just guards," he said.

Mr Flanagan also responded to someone saying he shouldn't be using a phone while driving.

"Dangerous and stupid. I have used Irish Rail since Christmas. Life a lot easier. The roads lots safer. Also can work while travelling," he replied.

Mr Flanagan was one of a group of TDs warned not to bring up the matter of penalty points being wiped in the Dail because it could be "defamatory".

But several Independents and small party TDs – Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Joan Collins and Mr Flanagan – still tried to raise the issue last December.


Around that time, Mr Flanagan's name was circulating as an alleged beneficiary of the removal of penalty points from licences and he was contacted by this newspaper to comment.

Yet Mr Flanagan denied he was on the list.

Mr Flanagan confirmed at the time the penalty points case he appealed several years earlier related to a speeding offence.

But he said nothing about his penalty points being wiped for another offence.

A week earlier, Mr Flanagan joined his three colleagues in the Dail Technical Group to raise the issue of removing penalty points, describing it as "corruption".

"This is one of the reasons we are in the hole we are in. We need to protect whistleblowers, not punish them. We are being denied the right to talk about corruption. What is new? Nothing," he said in the Dail.

Mr Flanagan also landed in hot water last month when he described An Garda Siochana as "a corrupt police force" on the eve of the funeral of murdered Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe. He was forced to apologise and admitted the timing was "bloody atrocious" but said he was standing by his comments.

Mr Flanagan came under attack from Mr Shatter, who said his remarks were "disgraceful".

Irish Independent

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