Sunday 16 December 2018

Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy concedes he was 'slow to learn lessons' after serious car crash

Lessons: Gavin Duffy checks a car’s dipstick with mechanic Brian O’Connor at Finlay Motor Group near Naas. Photo: Frank McGrath
Lessons: Gavin Duffy checks a car’s dipstick with mechanic Brian O’Connor at Finlay Motor Group near Naas. Photo: Frank McGrath
John Downing

John Downing

Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy has said he will never forget the lessons learnt from a serious road accident he was involved in when driving without insurance or a licence.

The incident happened in 1978 when he was 18. But he has also acknowledged he was guilty of serious motoring offences some 15 years later.

Mr Duffy said he regrets the accident in which a young woman on a motorcycle was injured when he collided with her while driving his brother's car without permission in 1978 at the age of 18.

"It was a moment in my life that I'll never forget. I see what I did as wrong," he told the Irish Independent. He had missed his lift to work and then taken his brother's car without permission.

Mr Duffy's campaign officials pointed out that an earlier report, that the young woman concerned lost a leg as a result of the accident, was wrong. The candidate said he had made a settlement with the Motor Insurance Bureau and he did not contest an action taken in court by the woman victim.

"I always say you must never get into a car without insurance or a licence. It is something I repeatedly say to my own grown-up children and I'm very particular about that ever since," he said.

But last night his spokesman also conceded he had been slow to learn these vital motoring lessons on the road. Some 15 years later he was fined for speeding and dangerous driving.

The Independent presidential contender also rejected suggestions he had deliberately changed his name to keep the original incident quiet. He was eventually prosecuted under the name then on his birth certificate which was "William" or "Liam" Duffy - but he was widely known as a radio presenter under the name Gavin Duffy which he has used for many years.

"There was absolutely no intent to deceive. The morning of the accident I was on my way to present a radio programme called 'The Gavin Duffy Show'," he said.

The presidential candidate was speaking during a visit to Kildare which included a call to his old school, Newbridge College.

Meanwhile, fellow candidate Seán Gallagher said he had no problem taking part in a debate fronted by Virgin's Pat Kenny despite the 'Frontline' incident which he has all but said derailed his bid for the Áras. "I was in doing a radio interview in 'Newstalk' recently and I met Pat out on the floor and we had a good 10-minute conversation. I have huge regard for him as a presenter," he told the 'Women Mean Business' awards.

Elsewhere, Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ní Riada took a swipe at sitting President Michael D Higgins, hitting out at him for not addressing the Oireachtas during his term.

Irish Independent

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