Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Flanagan admits corrupt behaviour

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan said he would not step down from his Roscommon-South Leitrim Dail seat

Independent TD Luke "Ming" Flanagan has admitted to being corrupt over the quashing of penalty points for using a mobile phone while driving on two occasions.

But the defiant representative, who helped spearhead a campaign against gardai for wiping points from driving licences, insisted he will not stand down over the controversy.

Asked on Shannonside Radio if he was a corrupt politician, Mr Flanagan replied: "On the issue of the penalty points, it was corrupt what I did. So draw your own conclusions from that."

However, Mr Flanagan said he would not resign his Roscommon-South Leitrim Dail seat, despite previous denials that he had penalty points and his high-profile stance against points being cancelled for a number of high-profile figures. "No, I don't think it is a resigning matter," he told the local radio station's Joe Finnegan Show.

"I think there are a lot of others things I will be able to do for the people of Roscommon and South Leitrim and in the new constituency in the future. But there's no questioning it - I have let people down. There's no denying that. And for that, and to the people of Ireland, I am sorry that I have let them down."

Mr Flanagan has said a Garda sergeant and a senior county council official were involved in the clearing of his driving licence. The TD claimed in the Dail there was a "franchise system" going on whereby if you are "cosy with a senior garda" you can have motoring offences quashed.

The colourful politician 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, revealed 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.

Frank Dawson, chief of Roscommon County Council, said he assumed he was the senior council official referred to by Mr Flanagan but denied any involvement. The county manager said Mr Flanagan mentioned to him during a conversation in December 2010 that he was stopped by the gardai for using a mobile phone while driving outside the council offices.

"I utterly reject his allegations that I 'sorted out his penalty points issue for him'," he said. "I will take all necessary steps to protect my good name and reputation. Today I am forwarding my account of this matter to the Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Siochana in charge of the investigation."

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