Flanagan case - Look at the bigger picture

Deputy Luke “Ming” Flanagan has become hopelessly ensnared in his own hypocritical web of deception.

In December he and three Dáil colleagues held a news conference to highlight the need for an independent inquiry into allegations that thousands of road traffic offences had been quietly quashed.

Mr Flanagan had his own personal insight, because he had penalty points wiped out on two different occasions in 2011 for the improper use of a mobile while driving.

On the first occasion he was driving to the Dáil when he was stopped. Six months later he was going to meet officials of Roscommon County Council when the offence occurred. At his own request the points for the first incident were wiped out, but he insists an official of Roscommon County Council requested the removal of the penalty points on the other occasion.

This whole thing should not be allowed to confuse the bigger picture. This is not just about squaring penalty points. “We have evidence of serious malpractice in the Garda Síochána,” Deputy Mick Wallace insisted yesterday. “The termination of penalty points is widespread.”

Although the overall story has all the essentials of a farce, it should not be trivialised, because it involves the perversion of justice, with allegations of Garda corruption added. Elected TDs should lead by giving proper example — not by perverting the course of justice.

The whole thing is startlingly reminiscent of the scandal involving the former British minister Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce. Huhne admitted he asked Pryce to take his speeding points so he could avoid losing his licence in 2003. He not only lost his cabinet position, but was compelled to resign from Parliament, and has been jailed for eight months, along with Pryce.

Mr Flanagan admits his actions were “corrupt and stupid”, with the result that his continued presence in Dáil Éireann is just as stupid and corrupt.

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