Policing committee chairman quits after drink-driving arrest

The chairman of the country’s largest joint policing committee has resigned from his post after being detained by gardaí on suspicion of drink driving.

Policing committee chairman quits after drink-driving arrest

It has emerged that Cllr Michael Hegarty, 51, was arrested by gardaí nearly three weeks ago in East Cork.

The married father of four confirmed to the Irish Examiner last night that he had resigned both as chairman and member of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee because he felt “it wouldn’t be proper” for him to continue to contribute to that forum as “an issue had arisen with a road traffic matter”.

It is understood he was arrested near the village of Ballymacoda, a short distance from his home at Ladysbridge, on Aug 21.

He also stepped down yesterday as leader of Fine Gael on Cork County Council, which, with 22 members, is the largest party on the local authority.

Mr Hegarty was appointed to that position nearly five years ago and has enjoyed popular support across all political divides.

As the council meeting convened yesterday, he issued a brief statement claiming he needed time to sort out his financial affairs.

Last week, the embattled public representative said he was “working on a repayments process” with Revenue’s collector general after his property business got into difficulties, owing €81,823.

Mr Hegarty claimed he got into the property market “late” and that was why his business had collapsed.

Behind the scenes, he found widespread support for his predicament.

Several councillors from all parties, who declined to be named, said they understood he was under “immense pressure in his life”.

As a member of the council since 1985, he said he had always “done everything possible to serve his constituents and the local authority to his best ability”. He said he needed some “time out” to sort out his commitment to the Revenue.

Cllr Kevin Murphy from Kinsale has been appointed Fine Gael interim leader pending an election which is likely to happen in the next few weeks.

Cllr John Mulvihill (Lab) has taken over as chairman of the policing committee.

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