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Leading politicians had penalty points written off – senator


Labour senator John Kelly: ‘I am not alone in this’

Labour senator John Kelly: ‘I am not alone in this’

Labour senator John Kelly: ‘I am not alone in this’

A LABOUR senator who had penalty points written off twice has claimed that "people at the highest level of Government" have benefited from the practice as well.

John Kelly had accused fellow Roscommon-based politician Luke 'Ming' Flanagan of hypocrisy for keeping his own write-off under wraps while he was campaigning on the issue nationally.

But he said that he was not the only politician who had benefited from having penalty points written off.

"People at the highest level of Government have availed of it. I'm not alone," he said.

A recent survey found that 127 out of 166 TDs said they had never had penalty points removed, but five refused to comment and 32 failed to respond to queries.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has received a garda report into the cancellation of penalty points, which found that there was no corruption.

Mr Flanagan could not be contacted for comment.

Mr Kelly said he had penalty points written off about a decade ago and about a year ago too, when he was returning from the Seanad.

"If there is discretion that can be used by a garda superintendent and he thinks you have genuine reasons, it's there for everyone,"he said.

However, fellow Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins called for a referendum to get rid of the "outdated" rule in the Constitution that prevents politicians from being arrested if they break the law while travelling to Leinster House.

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"Politicians aren't above the law and they shouldn't be above the law. It should be looked at by the Constitutional Convention," she said.

Ms Higgins said she had twice got penalty points.

"I have been stopped, I got penalty points and I took them. I felt I broke the law and that the law should be applied to me," she said.

Under the Constitution, TDs and senators are protected from arrest when going to and from Leinster House.

The origin of the rule dates back to the Civil War, when TDs were being harassed on their way to the Dail.

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