Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Points row TD reported to watchdog

TD Joan Collins was accused of a serious breach of parliamentary privilege for naming two people as having penalties cancelled
TD Joan Collins was accused of a serious breach of parliamentary privilege for naming two people as having penalties cancelled

A TD has been reported to an ethics watchdog after she named two public figures as allegedly having penalty points struck out by gardai.

People Before Profit's Joan Collins was accused of a serious breach of parliamentary privilege for naming rugby star Ronan O'Gara and crime writer Paul Williams as having penalties cancelled.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett said he had written to a number of TDs who had previously raised the issue warning them not to name individuals.

"The deputy was also cautioned by the chair at the time of the remarks," Mr Barrett said.

"In view of these events, and the prior notice given to the deputies, I regard Deputy Collins' references as a serious breach of privilege and I'm referring the matter to the Committee of Procedure and Privileges."

Ms Collins made the remarks in the Dail during a debate on the controversy over the termination of motoring offences by the gardai.

Independent TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly also raised the issue.

Justice minister Alan Shatter revealed that 197 allegations of penalty points being struck out were being investigated.

The allegations relate to the cancellation of fixed charge notices, which are issued as an alternative to prosecution and usually when a driver is found to be speeding. It allows the motorist to pay a fine and incur penalty points.

Mr Shatter said members of the gardai ranking inspector or higher have the authority to cancel notices - usually when there would not be enough evidence to prosecute or when prosecution would be unfair or disproportionate.

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