'Ming' penalty points wiped as he cites historic Dail law
LUKE 'Ming' Flanagan, the independent TD, had penalty points wiped or "invalidated" from his record by gardai, despite later slamming members of the force for doing it for others, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
The Sunday Independent has confirmed that Mr Flanagan, aged 41, was stopped by gardai on June 3, 2011, for driving while operating his mobile phone, an offence which brings with it a €60 fine and two penalty points on your driving licence.
It has been confirmed that the points were later "invalidated" and Mr Flanagan's record was expunged.
News of Mr Flanagan's points being wiped is in sharp contrast to the stance he himself took last December when he was one of four independent TDs who were heavily criticised for attempting to raise, under Dail privilege, the issue of gardai wiping the records of high-profile people.
According to sources, the basis for invalidating Mr Flanagan's points was that he insisted to gardai he was on "Dail business" when stopped in June 2011 and therefore should not be liable for the charge or penalty.
A garda superintendent has the power to cancel points if he receives an appeal in writing, outlining the grounds why the offender feels the points should not be applied. "His points were dropped on foot of his representations," a source said.
Under existing rules, Oireachtas members travelling to and from the Dail can be exempted from prosecution.
Repeated attempts to contact Mr Flanagan last weekend were unsuccessful.
The revelation that Mr Flanagan himself had points wiped from his licence comes in the context of him recently branding some garda officers "corrupt", a comment for which he later apologised.
He admitted "atrocious" timing after calling gardai "corrupt" just as thousands of officers were gathering in Dundalk for the funeral of their murdered colleague Adrian Donohoe in late January.
The Roscommon TD, who recently admitted he has taken cocaine, ecstasy and acid, was severely lambasted by Justice Minister Alan Shatter in February over his comments about gardai.
In December, Mr Flanagan's colleague Joan Collins TD "named and shamed" several high-profile people, including rugby star Ronan O'Gara and journalist Paul Williams, who had their records amended.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter branded Ms Collins a disgrace and said there were only 197 allegations made in relation to 1.46 million penalty points applied via "fixed charge notices" over the past three-and-a-half years.
"From the interim report I received, I have noted that some of the cancellations of fixed-charge notices relate to ordinary individuals who are not VIPs," he added.
"Some of the people had penalty points written off because they were not the owner of the car identified by the speed camera."
Mr Shatter also warned deputies not to assume all cancellations were inappropriate. Mr Shatter dismissed the concerns of the independent deputies, saying: "There will be no special treatment because they are a celebrity or pal of someone. Under my watch, the law will be applied."MING