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ULA TDs name judge whose penalty points were allegedly terminated

A garda and a sergeant have reportedly blown the whistle on the practice of penalty points on drivers’ licences being terminated inappropriately for some high-profile figures.

Joan Collins (c) and Clare Daly (r)
Joan Collins (c) and Clare Daly (r)
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

UNITED LEFT ALLIANCE TDs Clare Daly and Joan Collins have both named one of the judges who has allegedly had penalty points on her driver’s licence terminated.

The judge is one of two members of the judiciary who is said to have allegedly had their penalty points terminated along with “tens of thousands” of other motorists including a number of unnamed, high-profile figures in recent years.

Penalty points were introduced ten years ago and cover nearly 50 different offences but some points can be terminated for legitimate reasons such as speeding during a genuine emergency.

In the Dáil today Clare Daly said gardaí who blew the whistle on the practice of points being terminated inappropriately were being “victimised” and said that some “very powerful” people were escaping punishment, “costing the State millions”.

It has been reported that a garda and a sergeant have blown the whistle on the practice and a report has been passed to Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Gardaí have confirmed they are investigating the claims.

Daly named one of the judges, a name repeated by her fellow United Left Alliance TD Joan Collins who said it was “absolutely outrageous” that TDs were not allowed to highlight the issue during heated exchanges with the Dáil’s leas-cheann comhairle, Michael Kitt.

Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan commented: “This country should protect whistleblowers, it never has and it’s one of the reasons we’re in the hole we are in. We need to protect whistleblowers.”

Privilege

By law, TDs are entitled to make a potentially defamatory statement in either house of the Oireachtas under the defence of absolute privilege.

Flanagan has published a letter from the Ceann Comhairle on his Twitter account which states that under Standing Order 59 any TD intending to make a potentuially defamatory statement in the Dáil must give prior notice of their intention to do so.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett wrote to Flanagan to say that “prior private notice of naming of individual is required”.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said in reply to a parliamentary question last week that he understood there was a provision which allowed senior gardaí above a certain rank to write off penalty points for legitimate reasons.

But he said that his department had received information from a possible whistleblower about the alleged inappropriate use of this procedure.

He said he was taking the allegations “seriously”and the matter has been referred to Shatter. As a result, the Garda Commissioner has tasked an Assistant Commissioner with investigating the claims.

“The Garda Commissioner has appointed an Assistant Commissioner to investigate the claims. We will not be commenting further on the issue at this stage,” the Gardaí said in a statement this afternoon.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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