9/21/2008Ireland: Ministers Caught Ignoring Speed Limit
Irish newspaper catches senior ministers speeding while engaged in planning for a speed camera crackdown on ordinary motorists.
An investigation by the Irish Mail newspaper caught top cabinet officials in Ireland speeding less than a week before a planned government announcement regarding expansion of photo enforcement systems to ticket ordinary motorists. Armed with a Decatur Electronics Genesis II radar gun, the paper set a trap using standard police tactics to document the officials' transgressions on video.
"Some of those cars can do 240kph (150 MPH)," one former ministerial driver told the Irish Mail. "These are government ministers. You go at what you have to go at to get them there."
Drivers for Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen followed this advice. Cowen was caught being driven in his official Mercedes E240 sedan at 106kph in an 80 zone (66 MPH in a 50 zone) while headed to a Fianna Fail party meeting at the Clayton Hotel on September 15. Video of the incident also shows the official's driver making an illegal overtaking maneuver. Cowen's security escort was similarly nabbed on two separate occasions in a BMW 525D sedan at 158kph and 153kph in a 100 zone (98 and 95 MPH in a 62 zone).
Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Mary Coughlan's official Audi A6 was spotted driving at 180kph in a 100 zone (111 MPH in a 62 zone) on September 16, although Coughlan was not in the vehicle at the time. Both Coughlan and Cowen have immunity from speeding tickets because of their position. Green Party Minister Trevor Sargent, however, does not qualify for special treatment. The Irish Mail recorded Sargent being driven in a rented Ford Mondeo at 70kph in a 50 zone (43 MPH in a 31 zone) on September 4 as he was leaving an organic foods conference.