‘Contrite’ FF TD gets one-year ban for drink driving

A “CONTRITE” Fianna Fáil TD who received a one-year driving ban yesterday for drink driving said he wants to get back to work for his constituents.

The Fianna Fáil party headquarters confirmed that as far as it is concerned, the matter is now closed.

Christy O’Sullivan, aged 59, from Hillside, Tawnies, Clonakilty, Co Cork, who represents the Cork South West constituency, pleaded guilty at Clonakilty District Court yesterday to driving with excess alcohol in his system on the Western Road, outside Clonakilty on June 2, 2008.

The first-time TD, and father-of-seven, received the automatic one-year driving ban and was fined €300.

Speaking outside the court afterwards, Mr O’Sullivan said he was happy that the matter had been dealt with.

“I look forward to getting back to working for my constituents. I want to thank all those people who have been a tremendous support to me over the last few months. I have no more to say,” he said.

A Fianna Fáil spokesperson said the law has now taken its course. “Deputy O’Sullivan fully realises the seriousness of the incident and accepts the penalty imposed on him,” he said.

“Fianna Fáil believes drink driving is a major contributory factor in many road accidents. It is intolerable and wrong in all circumstances, and there can be no justification whatsoever for drinking and driving.”

Garda Brian O’Flynn of the Bandon Traffic Corps told Judge James McNulty that he was operating a mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint on the Western Road on June 2 last — the Monday evening of the bank holiday weekend.

He stopped a Toyota Landcruiser, which was being driven by Mr O’Sullivan, who was returning home from a race meeting, at around 9.25pm.

Garda O’Flynn said he asked Mr O’Sullivan to provide a breath sample — which he failed.

He said he then arrested Mr O’Sullivan and took him to Clonakilty Garda Station where the TD provided a blood sample, which upon analysis showed a reading of 88mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal blood alcohol limit is 80mg per 100ml.

Garda O’Flynn said Mr O’Sullivan was “very co-operative at all stages”, that there were no aggravating factors and that he had no previous convictions.

Superintendent Pat Maher told the court that Mr O’Sullivan telephoned him personally the following day to apologise for causing embarrassment to the gardaí.

He said the TD has suffered a great deal since his arrest and had been up front about the entire matter.

Mr O’Sullivan’s solicitor, Eamon Murray, said his client was “extremely upset and embarrassed” following his “misjudgment of the situation on the night in question”.

He said his client faced up to the offence from the beginning and was “very contrite.” He also said a driving ban would be a major inconvenience for him in his constituency work.

Judge McMulty said he must take in to account mitigating factors.

He said Mr O’Sullivan was marginally over the legal limit, has no previous convictions, is of good character, had expressed regret and had apologised within 24 hours of the detection and had pleaded guilty.

He endorsed his licence and imposed the mandatory one-year driving ban.

Supt Maher said gardaí had no objection to a request from Mr Murray to defer the driving ban to January 1.

Judge McNulty also imposed a €300 fine and ordered Mr O’Sullivan to pay €100 to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety in Dublin to cover the costs of his blood analysis.

Mr O’Sullivan was elected to the Dáil for the first time in May 2007 and was a surprise poll topper.

He was first elected as a public representative in 1999 when he joined Cork County Council as an independent. He joined Fianna Fáil just before the last general election.

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