DOCTOR: I’LL GO TO JAIL IN PARKING ROW
Doctor parked in disabled bay... but insists HSE should stump up the cash
A DOCTOR has said she is prepared to go to jail rather than pay a €150 fine for parking in a disabled space.
Dr Maeve White pleaded guilty yesterday to parking illegally – but said she believes her employer, the HSE, should pay the penalty instead.
Dr White insisted she will ‘never’ pay her fine because it was the fault of her employers for not providing her with an adequate car park space.
The medic added that she had been ‘abused’ by the HSE.
Dr White has been given three months to pay up. However, outside court, she told the Irish Daily Mail she was prepared to go to jail rather than stumping up the cash.
The medic said: ‘No way, no way, absolutely I’ll go to jail if I have to. I refuse to pay; it’s not my responsibility, it’s the HSE’s responsibility.’
She claimed she parked in the disabled bay as she had nowhere else
to leave her car when she arrived at work at Stillorgan Health Centre in Co. Dublin on February 26, 2018. Dr White – a senior medical officer at eight HSE baby clinics in south Dublin – admitted to Judge Ann Watkins at Dún Laoghaire District Court that she was guilty of parking in a disabled space.
However, in a short, heated exchange with Judge Watkins, Dr White, who was representing herself, said: ‘I was forced by my employer, the HSE, to park there.’
‘Take it up with the HSE’
But Judge Watkins interrupted, saying: ‘No, no-one forced you, did you have a gun to your head?’
Dr White replied saying the only other option she had was to drive away from work. Judge Watkins replied that everyone has experienced this problem.
Pointing to the court’s car park, the judge said: ‘If someone takes my space out there, I can’t go and park somewhere else, and I won’t, you know, that’s the reality.’
Judge Watkins said she was taking on board that Dr White was arguing it was an emergency situation but imposed a fine of €150. She told her if it ever happened again, she would be fined €250.
Dr White told the court: ‘I will never, ever, ever pay this fine.’
Judge Watkins said she didn’t want to ‘hear that’, adding that ‘you are going to be in contempt of court’. But Dr White repeated her vow, saying: ‘I will never pay it. I have been abused.’ When Judge Watkins asked who abused her, she replied: ‘The HSE.’
Judge Watkins responded that the HSE has ‘nothing to do with this’. She added: ‘Take it up with the HSE. This is not a place for you to start dealing with your gripes with somebody else. It’s not acceptable; this is a court of law dealing with a charge that you committed an offence.’
The judge also said: ‘If you don’t intend to pay a fine because you have a gripe with somebody else, that’s a fairly serious matter. I note you say that.’
When asked by Judge Watkins if she understood she could end up in jail if she refused to pay the fine, Dr White replied ‘yes’. Judge Watkins warned: ‘If you think that you are making a statement against the HSE by not paying a fine owed to another organisation, because you’ve inconvenienced disabled people, if you think that’s a sensible statement to make, you better take the consequences.’
Speaking to the Mail outside court afterwards, Dr White said the HSE is obliged to look after its staff and that she was told by management that she has to use a car to go to her clinics.
‘I cannot use a bike and I can’t use a bus; I must use my car,’ she said. ‘I do not wish to have a car, and in these clinics there is no provision for staff or patients to park. That is why they have to put me in this place where I am very stressed. They have done this, and they refuse to pay. I have no intention of paying a penny. I don’t care if I lose my job, they are giving me a hard time in work.’
Dr White added that she had been ‘threatened with disciplinary action over this’ and told that it was a ‘personal parking problem’.
‘It is not,’ she stated firmly. ‘I would never have been there only I was working. It is a point of principle; I am standing up for my colleagues because this has happened to them too. Another woman was fined for parking in a loading bay.’
When it was pointed out to Dr White that none of her colleagues was in court to support her yesterday, she said: ‘They have to work.
‘I have to work today and today will be taken off as annual leave. This is not my fault. I am travelling
‘Lack of respect for staff’
between eight clinics and it is a very busy job. I have to cover working in an office, I have to drive a lot. I was quite happy to take public transport but was told I could not do that. I feel I’m standing up for the lack of respect for staff and patient care, and places for them to park and the bullying you face if you stand up to them.’
The HSE said that it cannot comment on individual cases.
Firm refusal: Dr Maeve White
Won’t back down: Dr Maeve White leaving court yesterday
Row: Stillorgan clinic where the medic parked in a disabled bay