Doc­tor parked in dis­abled bay... but in­sists HSE should stump up the cash

Irish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Ali­son O’Reilly

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

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