A LIMERICK councillor has put his “hands up” to speaking on a mobile phone while driving.
At Limerick Court, Shane Clifford, aged 39, of The Spa, Castleconnell pleaded guilty to the offence which took place on February 14 at Plassey Park Road.
Mr Clifford’s solicitor, Ted McCarthy said his client returned the fine but it was outside the time. “He apologises,” Mr McCarthy told the court.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly imposed a €100 fine.
There were probably avenues open to Cllr Clifford to pursue if he wished to make the incident “disappear”.
“It wouldn’t even enter my head to do something like that,” Cllr Clifford told the Limerick Leader after the court case.
“I broke the law at the end of the day. I have to take my punishment the same as anybody else - just because I’ve been elected a councillor doesn’t entitle me to special treatment. There is no point in trying to hide these things. I made a mistake, I shouldn’t have done it - hands up. When I ran for election it was on a platform of a new kind of politics and transparency,” said Cllr Clifford.
The Fianna Fail man put a post on his Facebook page about what had occurred.
“According to the Road Safety Authority, drivers are four times more likely to crash when using a phone in the car. Please either invest in a car kit or switch off your phone before you get into the car,” he wrote.
In Cllr Clifford’s case he already had a car kit installed.
“It was a phone I had just bought specifically for the election. I have a car kit - I wouldn’t like to be using the phone without it being on because I drive a lot. I got the new phone a day beforehand and I had been trying to ring somebody during the day. I tried to get them a few times. I was on the way home from the office and the phone rang. I picked up the thing and about 30 seconds later I noticed the blue lights in the rear view mirror,” said Cllr Clifford.
While he had set up the bluetooth connection for his new phone the old one connected up first.
“The phone rang and I answered it - hands up,” said Cllr Clifford.
When the fine came he filled it out, put it an envelope, addressed it and put it into his car to drop it into the letter box.
“I never posted it. I was cleaning out the car a week after the election, I found it and posted it. The following day I got the fine posted back saying they couldn’t accept it as it was gone over the time limit,” said Cllr Clifford.