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Irish lawmaker snagged for illegal smoking

An Irish lawmaker who lit up a cigarette in the parliamentary members’ bar has become the first high-profile casualty of the country’s trail-blazing ban on smoking.
/ Source: Reuters

An Irish lawmaker who lit up a cigarette in the parliamentary members’ bar has become the first high-profile casualty of the country’s trail-blazing ban on smoking.

John Deasy, 36, was ousted from his position as justice spokesman for opposition party Fine Gael late Wednesday for flouting the law that took effect just days ago.

Commenting Thursday on Deasy’s dismissal, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said politicians should lead by example.

“No man or woman is above the law and no politician is above the law and in that sense it’s my responsibility ... to enforce standards in the party,” he said.

Due process
On Monday, Ireland became the first country in the world to outlaw smoking in all workplaces, including pubs and restaurants, with fines up to $3,700 for offenders.

Kenny said the matter of whether Deasy should be prosecuted was not his responsibility.

The Office of Tobacco Control said it referred the case to the relevant health board and that “due process will take its course.”

Despite fierce initial resistance from many pub owners and smokers, the Irish public has so far complied with the ban, earning it praise from Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

Ahern said the Deasy incident was a matter for Fine Gael, but commented, “Obviously legislators have a special responsibility in that we legislate the laws, and we should be the upholders of that and set the example on it.”

According to a Fine Gael spokeswoman, Deasy lit up after bar staff refused his requests for access to an outdoor area where he wanted to smoke.

While he has been relieved of his portfolio, Deasy — who campaigned for a compromise on smoking in pubs and restaurants — remains both an MP and a member of Fine Gael.

He was unavailable for comment.