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22 May 2022

Pensioner slams €100 road traffic fine in Longford as a ‘farce’

Longford Courthouse.

A retired old age pensioner has branded being fined €100 for the non display of tax on his car in Longford town over two years ago as a “farce”.

A retired old age pensioner has branded being fined €100 for the non display of tax on his car in Longford town over two years ago as a “farce”.

Denis Flanagan, 11 Waterfront, Dromod, Co Leitrim, is to appeal a conviction handed down at last week's District Court sitting following an incident at Town Centre Car Park on February 21, 2020.

Mr Flanagan fully contested the summons which was issued against him and even asked for damages to be awarded to him for the “inconvenience” it had cost him.

Judge Marie Keane replied, saying the awarding of costs to Mr Flanagan was outside of her jurisdiction.

Mr Flanagan, who defended himself throughout a 15 minute hearing last Tuesday indicated he would be seeking a dismissal of the case based on two overarching points of law.

The first of those, he alleged, centred on the condition of the ticket which had been issued to him on the day of the incident.

“The piece of paper put on the windscreen was soiled and hardly legible.

“You would want to put it under a microscope as it's torn in two,” he said.

Mr Flanagan said there was no question in his opinion that a court could validate the ticket as a legal document.

“It was warped and crumpled,” he said.

“It was like it had been held in a basin of water.”

Mr Flanagan's second point of argument, he revealed, concerned the length of time it had taken for court proceedings to be issued against him.

In calling into question the two year timeframe, Mr Flanagan repeated his earlier application for costs to be awarded to him.

Solicitor for Longford County Council Frank Gearty said after inspecting the original ticket, said it was his belief it was in “reasonable repair”.

Mr Flanagan, at that juncture swiftly interjected, saying: “Your joking me.”

Judge Keane warned Mr Flanagan to keep a tight rein on his use of language when addressing both the bench and members of the local judiciary.

“This is a court and I expect certain behaviour,” she told him, before advising against Mr Flanagan resorting to any “glib” replies when in the witness box.

Judge Keane also ruled against Mr Flanagan's assertion over the length of time the case had taken to come before the court, adding it fell within the specified two year timeframe.

“Was this statutory legislation ever challenged before?” Mr Flanagan asked.

“I would like that question answered.”

When told the matter was one which did not concern the District Court, Mr Flanagan responded by saying: “This whole thing is a farce.”

Judge Keane once again appealed to Mr Flanagan to desist from using inappropriate language and reminded him that he was addressing a court.

Judge Keane, in considering Mr Flanagan's application for a strike out, rejected both.

She said key information including the location, date and alleged offence could be identified while the prosecution itself fell within the required two year parameter.

Mr Flanagan also raised questions as to why the traffic attendant hadn't spotted a notice which had been left on the car which explained why a tax disk was not fixed to the vehicle.

“It would have taken 30 seconds,” he said.

Mr Flanagan insisted he had done everything required of him in ensuring his motor tax affairs were in order, claiming a cheque he had sent to Leitrim County Council was still not cashed to this day.

He told of how he had notified his insurance company and the council of his car having been off the road for a period of time, but was informed he was liable for arrears.

“I notified the county council that it was off the road and when I went in I was asked to pay back tax, but I said it (car) was off the road,” he said.

When it became apparaent the court would be ruling against Mr Flanagan, the accused asked: “Would you not agree to disagree and walk away?”

Judge Keane said given the evidence provided and circumstances of the case, she would be issuing a conviction.

Asked about the current status of his vehicle, Mr Flanagan confirmed it was fully taxed.

Judge Keane issued Mr Flanagan with a €100 fine, giving him four months to pay.

In doing so, Mr Flanagan said he was of a mind to appeal the ruling handed down.

As he stepped down from the witness box, he turned to Mr Gearty, telling him: “(It was) nothing personal.”

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