Wednesday 21 March 2018

'Ming' Flanagan says penalty points quashed twice

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan
Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Lyndsey Telford

CONTROVERSIAL politician Luke Ming Flanagan has revealed he has had penalty points wiped from his driving licence twice.

The Independent TD, who fronted a campaign against the gardai, blasting them for cancelling points for high-profile figures, said he was approached both times and told his penalties would be revoked.


"Not only is there a cohort of gardai who are going around asking people do they want points cancelled, but it appears there is a franchise system going on whereby if you are cosy with a senior garda, then you can have these offences quashed," Mr Flanagan said.


The Roscommon TD was stopped by gardai on June 3, 2011 for using a mobile phone while driving - an offence that carries a fine and two penalty points.


He said he later spoke to a garda sergeant who insisted he could have the points revoked on the basis he had been on official Dail business.


Mr Flanagan, 41, today disclosed a similar incident happened the following December when he was handed penalty points for the same offence on his way to a Roscommon County Council meeting.


He said a senior council official later contacted him, informing him he had "sorted out" the issue.


"It is quite extraordinary to think that a senior county council official would feel confident enough that approaching a senior garda would enable him to have penalty points quashed for a citizen," Mr Flanagan said.


The TD, who has openly admitted to using class A drugs such as cocaine, acid and ecstasy in the past, insisted he never asked for the points to be wiped.


He said he had considered naming the garda sergeant who approached him in connection with the June incident in the Dail, but had been advised against it.


However he said he would submit the name to Justice Minister Alan Shatter.


"I did not ask the garda sergeant in question to get involved, but he insisted he should," Mr Flanagan added.


"I do not believe it was an attempt to trip me up. I believe it is a culture which has festered for years and all the garda was doing was what he has learned along the way."


He fronted a campaign with left-wing TDs Clare Daly, Joan Collins and Mick Wallace in December, in which they unveiled a dossier containing thousands of incidents in which they claimed gardai unjustly wiped points.


They said the incidents involved high-profile figures, including rugby star Ronan O'Gara and journalist Paul Williams, senior barristers and friends and family of the force.


Mr Flanagan was later forced to apologise after describing An Garda Siochana as "corrupt", just hours before the funeral of murdered Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe.


He admitted his timing had been atrocious.


A garda superintendent has the power to cancel points if he receives an appeal in writing or if the offender has a valid excuse for committing the offence - such as exceeding a speed limit while driving a sick child to hospital.


Mr Flanagan said he was informed his points could be quashed because he was on official Dail business at the time of both offences.


Mr Flanagan says the second incident occurred in December 2011 when he was driving into a meeting Roscommon County Council meeting.


He says a council official rang him to say he had “sorted out” his points.

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