THIS week two members of the Dáil, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, were convicted of entering a restricted area at Shannon Airport.
They were fined €2,000 each and given 30 days to pay or face 30 days in jail. In a reaction that shows complete contempt, and a dangerous lack of understanding of how a parliamentary democracy works or, more importantly, is sustained, both declared that they would not pay the fines. “I wouldn’t pay that fine to save my life,” declared Mr Wallace.
This amateur-theatrical bravado may seem a well-deserved swipe at the establishment but it is the kind of foolishness that dangerously undermines our political system and, ironically, gives succor to those who oppose the kind of reform our way of doing politics so badly needs.
This is not the first time Mr Wallace has shown he imagines our laws to be flexible should his circumstances require. Infamously he underpaid Vat to the tune of €1.4m.
Just as in so many other instances where the State actually incurs costs because people sanctioned by the courts refuse to pay fines, this case would be resolved by legislation that allowed the State to take the fines — and the costs involved in collecting them — from an individual’s income or assets.
It is intolerable though that two people elected to our parliament should show such cavalier disdain for our justice system. They were elected to uphold it or reform it where they deem necessary. Their behaviour is shameful.