Health minister Stephen Donnelly has been driving his family car even though its motor tax expired in September 2022.
It's a criminal offence to drive a vehicle without valid motor tax, with a garda spokesperson telling The Ditch, “It is illegal to drive an untaxed vehicle.” Gardaí have powers under the Road Traffic Act 1994 to detain a vehicle being driven in a public place if it hasn’t been taxed for two months or more. “Garda members do have permission to seize a vehicle,” confirmed the spokesperson.
Donnelly was seen driving the vehicle on a public road in Kilcoole, county Wicklow last Friday evening despite it not having motor tax for almost eight months.
The Ditch understands that the Toyota Prius car is registered to Donnelly’s wife Susan Leavy since 2019 and that it is driven daily.
In 2015 Donnelly admitted that he hadn’t registered a tenancy with the RTB. Last year the landlord minister was again found to have an unregistered tenancy – a criminal offence under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.
Donnelly has previously discussed his own theory on why people break the law.
“We are more likely to break the law if we believe that other people are breaking it. We are also more likely to break the law if we believe that the chances of being caught and penalised are slim,” he said during a March 2016 Dáil debate.
Last year An Garda Siochána seized 21,821 vehicles from drivers caught without insurance or motor tax.
In addition to his family vehicle the Wicklow TD has had the use of a garda driven ministerial car since last year.
Donnelly has been contacted for comment.