'I will never, ever pay this fine' – Doctor prepared to go to jail for parking in disabled spot

A DOCTOR has said she is prepared to go to jail rather than pay a €150 fine for parking in a disabled space in the course of her job, claiming she was “forced” to by the HSE.

Dr Maeve White, a south Dublin-based community medical officer said she was left with no choice but to park in the space outside a health centre. She said an ongoing parking problem in the area meant the disabled space was her only option and she had a duty of care to her patients.

“I will never, ever pay this fine,” she told Dun Laoghaire District Court.

Judge Anne Watkin imposed the fine and warned she would go to prison if she did not pay it.

Dr White, of Brookvale Road, Rathfarnham, pleaded guilty after being summonsed for parking illegally in a disabled space.

The court heard the offence happened at St Brigid’s, Church Road, Stillorgan at 2.10pm on February 26 last.

Dr White parked her car outside Stillorgan Health Centre, where she was due to carry out a clinic that afternoon, and maintains she could find no legal parking spaces.

“I did knowingly park in the disabled space, so I am guilty, yes,” Dr White told Judge Watkin. “The situation is I was forced by my employer, the HSE, to park there. The only other option is to drive away.”

“Nobody forced you,” the judge replied. “Did they have a gun to your head?”

The judge appreciated that the doctor was “between a rock and a hard place.” She said she was “in luck” as the fine had not increased and was €150.

If it happened again, she said, it would be €250.

“I will never, ever pay this fine,” Dr White said, to which the judge replied: “I don’t need to hear that you are going to be in contempt of court.”

Dr White told the court the HSE had “abused” her.

“This is not a place to start dealing with your gripes against somebody else,”the judge said. “This is a court of law.”

Dr White was there because she had committed an offence, the judge said.

Judge Watkin said Dr White could go to jail for not paying the fine and that she should take advice “if you think you are making a statement against the HSE by not paying a fine owned to another organisation because you have inconvenienced disabled people.”

Dr White said she believes the HSE is responsible for paying the fine, but they have refused.

She said there are no designated parking spaces for staff or patients at Stillorgan Health Centre and the disabled spaces in front of the clinic are “rarely used.”

Parking at Stillorgan Shopping Centre is nearly 1km away and she had bags with heavy equipment, as well as having undergone knee surgery in recent months.

“I was faced with a dilemma; should I break the law and park in the disabled parking space and do the clinic, or should I drive off and abandon children with appointments, whose parents take time off work to be there,” she said. “I chose to put patients first and I parked in the space.”

The HSE cannot comment on an individual case, a spokesperson said.

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