LUKE “MING” FLANAGAN may have topped the polls in Roscommon South Leitrim, but Cllr John Coonan (Fianna Fail) wants the state to use the full extent of its powers to prosecute the newly elected TD for his cannabis habit.
Cllr Coonan said that he was “horrified” by Deputy Flanagan’s public admission that he grows and smokes his own cannabis. Speaking at the first meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council since the cabinet was appointed Cllr Coonan congratulated all the newly elected TD’s and ministers but he said “It would be remiss of me as a former health care employee, if I didn’t express my reservations about the election of one of the independent candidates, who expressed the view publicly and on public record that he grows illegal drugs and smokes cannabis.”
Mr Coonan went on to call on Kilkenny Borough Council to write a letter to local Minister Phil Hogan and to the new Taoiseach Enda Kenny calling for the matter to be dealt with. Cllr Coonan said “I’m suggesting here as a local body that we should write to Phil Hogan, to Enda Kenny, to the government to ask them to deal with it and that the appropriate sanctions would be enforced because there is no separate law for Oireachtas members different from anybody else in society. There is no one law for elected people and another for other people. I think we should express our serious concern on the matter. I’m horrified by it.”
Despite Cllr Coonan’s horror at Deputy Flanagan’s personal habits, his motion to the council failed to gain any backers. Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Greens) said referring to Deputy Flanagan “he was democratically elected and his own personal habits should remain just that.”
Cllr David Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) said that he would find it difficult to support Cllr Coonan’s postilion although he was far from a drug advocate. He said “It is about time we had an open and honest debate about drugs in society. I think Kilkenny can bring forward new solutions to old problems in this area.”
Taken a back
“I was taken a back at the response of my colleagues”, said Cllr Coonan commenting on the failure of his colleagues to back his motion to write to the government urging that Deputy Flanagan be prosecuted for his drug habit. Cllr Coonan said that there are millions of euro pumped into drug task forces and health promotion each year and that the new deputy’s flaunting of the laws undermines the national effort. “Cannabis is a very serious drug that has serious side effects, including severe depression. They weren’t banned and controlled just for the fun of it,” he said.
Cllr Coonan has no intention of letting the matter lie. He is now determined to raise the issue at the HSE regional health forum.