Irish politician learns smoking is bad for your career

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The Independent Online

John Deasy, the sacked Irish opposition justice spokesman, could be fined up to ¤3,000 (£2,100) for defying the country's new smoking ban.

John Deasy, the sacked Irish opposition justice spokesman, could be fined up to £3,000 (£2,100) for defying the country's new smoking ban.

Mr Deasy was dismissed from his frontbench position after he lit up in the Dail Members' Bar ­ part of the same building in which the ban was signed into law ­ earlier this week.

The outspoken Waterford TD smoked several cigarettes after staff refused him access to an outside courtyard where he wanted to smoke.

Mr Deasy, 35, seemed assured of a bright future in Irish politics after he was elevated to the opposition front bench within a month of his first election to the Dail two years ago.

The former spokesman, son of Austin Deasy, once the agriculture minister, was touted as a future Fine Gael leader but his political career was in tatters last night after his dismissal from the justice portfolio.

Enda Kenny, the Fine Gael party leader, insisted he had no option but to dismiss Mr Deasy from his role as justice spokesman after he admitted the offence. He said: "If we are to restore public faith in the political system, politicians must lead by example. No man or woman is above the law and no politician is above the law. In that sense, it is my responsibility to enforce standards in the Fine Gael party."

The Office of Tobacco Control said it had referred Mr Deasy's case to the local health board. A spokeswoman said due process would take its course.

If the matter proceeded to a full court hearing, the maximum fine faced by Mr Deasy would be £3,000.

Mr Deasy remained silent on the issue yesterday.

Mr Kenny refused to comment on whether his colleague should be prosecuted. "It's not for me to interpret the law," he said. "I understand that the authorities in Leinster House are to discuss that matter."

The ban on smoking in workplaces, including bars and restaurants, became law in the Irish Republic on Monday amid massive international media interest. But within 48-hours, Mr Deasy had defied the initiative.

He is understood to have tried to open an emergency exit leading from the bar to a courtyard outside on Tuesday evening. By coincidence, the courtyard to which Mr Deasy sought access was later declared a designated smoking area.

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