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Saturday 16 December 2017

Flanagan must contact gardai to have penalty points reinstated

Luke "Ming" Flanagan

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

INDEPENDENT TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan will have to contact gardai to ask them to re-instate his penalty points.

The Roscommon TD has been accused of hypocrisy for engaging in a high profile campaign to expose the cancellation of penalty points by Gardai – while concealing the fact that he had had penalty points written off twice himself.

Mr Flanagan has promised to have his four penalty points put on his licence for using his mobile phone while driving and to pay the fines he avoided. He told the Dail earlier this week that he had contacted the Fines office in Clare to find out how to do this.

The Department of Transport confirmed that any driver who wants to reactivate a written-off fixed-charge penalty "would need to request this from An Garda Siochana".

Mr Flanagan could not be contacted yesterday to confirm whether he had done this yet.

In his Roscommon-South Leitrim constituency, his political rivals strongly criticised his decision to implicate a garda sergeant and a senior county council official in the cancellation of his penalty points. He claimed that the garda had told him to write in to get his penalty points cancelled "under the rule on travelling to the Dail". There is no such rule which automatically exempts TDs from penalty points.

Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan said that Mr Flanagan's attempt to explain himself had made the situation worse. "People are very, very angry. He implicated the county manager, who is one of the most decent people you could meet," he said.

The Roscommon County Manager Frank Dawson has come out strongly to deny that he was the council official involved. But he had to cancel an official St Patrick's Day trip to the US to deal with fallout.

Roscommon-based Labour senator John Kelly said that Mr Flanagan was guilty of hypocrisy by keeping his own penalty points write-off under wraps while he was campaigning on the issue nationally.

He said people in Roscommon had sympathy for those Mr Flanagan had implicated.

"He's brought shame on the county and people are really annoyed," he said.

Irish Independent

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