(John Waters, top, and the heavily-regulated streets of Dun Laoghaire, above)
Thank God (yes, Him) almighty, he’s free at last.
Following an arduous spell in ‘chokey’, lax parking evader John Waters went on The Right Hook on Newstalk this evening to declare his
innocence outrage and WAR on Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown council
George Hook: “I’m joined by my first ever jailbird, just released from prison, it’s John Waters, the legendary, iconic indeed, columnist with ‘The Irish Times’. How did you finish up in jail?”
John Waters: “Well, I spent a couple of hours in jail this afternoon, George, I was supposed to be in for a day, but they let me out after about two hours. It all goes back about three and a half years, to a parking ticket that I got in Dun Laoghaire, for being one minute over, well over the great period as well, which is apparently a technical point, which I don’t understand as well, anyway, so one minute over the grey period, and they issued me a ticket.
I ignored the ticket, it went to court, I was fined sixty euros and eighty five euros expenses. I told the judge there and then that I would not be paying it, because I believe there is a fundamental issue here about the right of people to inhabit and enjoy the public spaces and the parking regime in Dun Laoghaire is absolutely crucifying, not just to the spirit of the people in the town, but the actual traders in the town, there are now a hundred empty lots in between the shopping centre and the main street.”
Hook: “One has to say, before we get to your particular problem, it is held, by many, many people that Dun Laoghaire is being destroyed by the draconian regime of parking and that’s commonly…”
Waters: “…It’s a ghost town now George.”
Hook: “The Chief Executive of Dun Laoghaire Town Council, I’ve crossed swords with, many a time, in his previous appearance at Dublin City Council, and he certainly believes he is right. But not many people agree with him. But, nevertheless, this is a democracy, you broke the law, you were fined, and then you refused to pay it. So, jail for you!”
Waters: “It was a hundred and forty five euros, all in all, or one day in Wheatfield in lieu. So, that was May 1, March 2011, that was the hearing. I would say there was a bit of paper-work going through, which I ignored for a few months and then it dried up and I thought, maybe they’ve forgotten, maybe they haven’t, I don’t know. But then, about a year ago I arrive back and there was a warrant on my door-mat and the name of a Guard, with a card, saying; call him.
The warrant at that point was actually four months out of date. So, I contacted my solicitor, asking him to call the Guard and point this out to him. The Guard said, ‘Ah well, we’ll always get it re-issued, no problem!’. And March this year, they re-issued it, and they’ve been trying to get me ever since. Now, I haven’t been at home very much this year, I’ve been away quite a bit.”
Hook: “But you were a fugitive from justice at this point?”
Waters: “Yeah, I was, I was on the run, but anyway, we negotiated an end to the stand-off, clearly, they weren’t going to give up. So I said I was quite happy to go to jail. So I said I would arrive at Dun Laoghaire Garda Station 12 noon on Tuesday, that’s today, and serve my time. And I did so and I arrived.
Now, the bizarre thing was George, you can take this with a bit of grain of salt, in a way, but like, the negotiations between my solicitor seem to go on, and the Guard in question went on and it seemed that the Guard was a bit a wagon, a weapon, you know, but actually in person, he was a really nice guy.”
Hook: “He was only doing his job!”
Waters: “That’s true, but you know, we had a great old chat on the way down…”
Hook: “Now, hang on a minute, he then had to get into a state vehicle and drive you to Wheatfield Prison?”
Waters: “No, no, there were two Guards, there was him in the back with me and there was the driver, who drove at high speed out of Dun Laoghaire Garda Station, clipping the toes of some elderly women, who were protesting…”
Hook: “Ah come on now, come on.., they were protesting about your incarceration, the elderly women?”
Waters: “No, they were traders, they weren’t all elderly, there were about fifteen or twenty local traders who came out to protest, don’t forget Dun Laoghaire has been crucified…
Hook: “And were they protesting about your jailing? So, you had… ah come on now, you chatted them all up and said, listen now; I’m going to jail!”
Waters: “If you went out to Dun Laoghaire, you’d see along the main street there’s a big, one of the, one of the closed-down shops has a huge hoarding, with a picture of me and an article I wrote for The Mail on Sunday, The Irish Mail on Sunday, about the recent closure of Marks & Spencer in Dun Laoghaire and the effect it’s going to have on the town and the fact that it’s down to the policy of the Dun Laoghaire…”
Hook: “Correct, it’s outrageous!”
Waters: “It’s unbelievable!”
Hook: “It’s not the, it’s not the Council, it is the Chief Executive, who appears to..”
Waters: “Owen Keegan!”
Hook: “Yeah, Owen Keegan, who appears to have untrammeled powers.”
Waters: “He does yeah, he seems not to like cars, or car drivers. But the problem is, you see, I…this is, it’s one thing for me, I’ve been here 22 years in this area, in the Dun Laoghaire area and I go in maybe three or four days a week having my lunch there…I’ve only been caught three times, and I paid two tickets ‘cos maybe I was ten minutes over, this one, one minute. The guy, the traffic warden, I was told by a passer-by that the traffic warden actually saw my ticket, went down an alley-way, waited there for two or three minutes until the clock clicked past the point where my ticket was no longer valid!”.