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20 May 2022

Longford judge: ‘Unduly harsh’ if restaurant owner lost out on citizenship for using false driving licence

Longford Courthouse.

A Chinese restaurant owner was concerned that a conviction for using a false driving licence could have serious consequences for his hopes of securing Irish citizenship

A Chinese restaurant owner was concerned that a conviction for using a false driving licence could have serious consequences for his hopes of securing Irish citizenship, a recent sitting of Longford District Court heard.

Mingqiang Zhuang, Golden Sea, Sligo Road, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim was charged with having no insurance and driving without a driving licence on November 6 last.

A charge of producing a false instrument – a Slovakian driving licence - was dismissed.

The court heard that while gardai were conducting a checkpoint in relation to Covid-19 regulations, the defendant was stopped on the N4.

The defendant undertook to produce a driving licence within 10 days. This was found not to be a genuine licence.

Defence solicitor Lorcan Gearty said the defendant had been living in Ireland since 2003.

In 2018 he moved to Carrick-on-Shannon to start his own take-away restaurant business. The defendant did not need to drive before this, and his friend said he could get him a driving licence.

The defendant hopes to apply for Irish citizenship. He runs a restaurant without any problems and pays his taxes.

“A conviction could be a very serious matter for his citizenship application,” Mr Gearty said.

“It is a very serious matter to get a licence which is very professionally and fraudulently set up,” Judge Brennan said.

The defendant had been a long time in Ireland and made “one, big stupid mistake,” Mr Gearty said.

Judge Brennan noted that the defendant had been in the country since 2003, without any issues. He had also shown himself to be an entrepreneur.

As the defendant had no previous convictions, it would be “unduly harsh” if he were to lose out on citizenship. The charge in relation to the driving licence was dismissed.

The defendant was disqualified from driving for one year and fined €500. He was fined a further €100, with the driving disqualification to come into effect 14 days after the court appearance.

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