Cllr Daniel Callanan, the councillor who lifted the lid on the “clampgate” saga which revealed that several councillors had clamps removed free of charge from their cars was himself clamped 24 times and has had THREE clamps removed withour charge from his cars.
Last night, Galway Mayor Padraig Conneely, one of the men at the centre of the ongoing clamping debate, has said that Independent Callanan is a “serial law-breaker” who needs to come clean about his own clamping offences and stop misleading the council and the public.
Mayor Conneely, who has been repeatedly accused by Cllr Callanan of using his position to have a clamp removed earlier this year, has said that the public deserves to know that Callanan has had his vehicle clamped more times than any other councillor in the city and that he has, on more than one occasion, had a clamp removed without payment.
“What Cllr Callanan has said about me is totally untrue,” said Mayor Conneely. “And what he failed to mention in all his going-on about this is that he had three clamps removed himself.”
A Galway City Council report, which has been made available to the public this week via the Freedom of Information Act, does state that Cllr Callanan had his clamp removed free of charge on three occasions, in 2004, 2005, and 2006, as well as being clamped an additional 21 times, all of which were paid for by the councillor.
“He is a serial law breaker,” said Mayor Conneely, who added that the councillor had been prosecuted in Galway District Court earlier this year for driving while talking on a mobile phone. “He has totally misled the council, whom he disrupted three times with his outbursts, and he has misled the public.”
Conneely did take the opportunity, however, to set the record straight about his own much-disputed clamping incident.
“On that day [March 20, 2008] I had a park and display ticket on my car,” said Mayor Conneely, who said he had the ticket with him and even quoted the reference number from it. “I was at a meeting that day and got delayed, as you do, and my ticket ran over time by almost an hour.
“I felt I shouldn’t have to pay the full €80 fine for the clamp because I had paid €2.80 for a display ticket, it had just run over time,” said Mayor Conneely, who felt the €20 fine, which applies when a clamp is removed within one hour of the ticket expiring, was more suitable to his situation. “I rang the council and explained this all to them. They had the clamp released.”
“The public must realise they are dealing with a serial law breaker,” said Mayor Conneely, returning to the topic of Cllr Callanan. “This man is supposed to be a legislator and yet he is abusing the laws he is putting in place. What kind of example is he setting?
“I just think that people in glass cases shouldn’t be throwing stones,” concluded the Mayor.
Councillor Callanan, however, was quick to get his rocks out once more in his own defence.
“You can see from the report that I had a valid ticket,” said Cllr Callanan. “I put it in my pocket by mistake, instead of on the window, just as you can see Councillor Declan McDonnell did in one instance as well.”
The report, which has been made available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act, does state that Cllr Callanan had his clamp removed free of charge on three occasions, in 2004, 2005, and 2006, all because he produced a valid pay and display ticket. The same appears to be the case for Cllr McDonnell, who had a clamp removed without charge in 2005. The report also notes that, as Mayor Conneely said, Cllr Callanan had been clamped an additional 21 times since 2003.
“I was actually shocked myself when I saw it,” admitted Cllr Callanan. “I thought I had only been clamped about nine or 10 times. A majority of them were paid parking where I ran over the time.”
But that, Cllr Callanan claims, did not stop the officials from using the report as a scare tactic to quiet him.
“[Director of transport] Ciaran Hayes said it would look bad on me because I had so many clamps issued. He was trying to influence me so the whole mess would just go away,” said Cllr Callanan. “I told him to publish the whole thing as is and let the people decide. I have nothing to hide here.”
“The reason I was getting so thick about it was because I knew I had been clamped so many times,” said Cllr Callanan, who believes he has paid approximately €1,500 in clamping fees in the last number of years. “I mean, if only I had known that I could simply ring up and say ‘I’m Daniel Callanan’ and the clamp would be removed.”
Cllr Callanan said that it is now up to the public to read the report and draw their own conclusions about the situation.
“I have been fighting for months for this information but I cannot take this any further,” he said. “I cannot tell the public why Ronan Kinneen or Joe Tansey permitted for these clamps to be removed. But I think I have achieved a good result.”
Cllr Callanan also said that he is continuing his search for the so called ‘magic list’, which is believed to include the names and vehicle registration numbers of all the people in Galway who cannot be clamped. The list is said to include a number of prominent political and business figures in the city.
Cllr Callanan said he was told by Mr Hayes that there was no such list, only to be told at a later date that there was a list but that it was no longer being used. A note on the bottom of the report, however, says “a representative from APCOA confirmed that they used this type of sheet but an updated version is now being used”. The information contained in this list, it says, is not available to the public.