Shatter challenged over his disclosure of briefings

Committee chairman has concerns over Minister’s account to Dáil last Tuesday

On foot of that the chairman of Oireachtas Committee on Oversight and Petitions, Padraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin, has said it has heightened his concerns about the account given to the Dáil by Mr Shatter last Tuesday.

On foot of that the chairman of Oireachtas Committee on Oversight and Petitions, Padraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin, has said it has heightened his concerns about the account given to the Dáil by Mr Shatter last Tuesday.

Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 01:03


The two main Opposition parties have challenged the assertion by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter that he had fully disclosed to the Dáil all the information he received in briefings from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

Members of the the Oireachtas committee inquiring into the controversy surrounding security anomalies discovered at the GSOC’s headquarters have received the written briefing papers it supplied to Mr Shatter.

Concerns
On foot of that the chairman of Oireachtas Committee on Oversight and Petitions, Padraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin, has said it has heightened his concerns about the account given to the Dáil by Mr Shatter last Tuesday.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said the briefing document “emphatically proves that Minister Alan Shatter was in possession of information which he did not make available to the Dáil”.

On RTÉ’s Prime Time on Thursday night Mr Shatter insisted that he “went into the Dáil and set out the information furnished to me. That is the position and remains the position,” he said.

Mr Shatter also criticised the GSOC and its chairman, Simon O’Brien, for giving a different account to the oversight committee and also contended the evidence had been confused and contradictory.

However, the three-page document, which has been seen by The Irish Times , contains detailed and specific information on two of the three anomalies but Mr Shatter did not reference that additional information in the Dáil speech.

One relates to a suspicious returned call to the GSOC chairman’s phone at 1am. Security experts viewed the likelihood of an innocent call as remote to zero. Mr Shatter made no reference to this in this Dáil comments.

In addition, the briefing also contained much more information on an unexpected 3G network from the UK, including an assessment that its sophistication was of government-standard. Mr Shatter omitted this from his Dáil statement.

Yesterday Mr Mac Lochlainn asserted Mr Shatter’s Dáil statement had been designed to downplay the seriousness of the potential threat to the GSCO. “He dismissed any suggestion of involvement by gardaí. He used a number of terms to say ‘nothing to see here’,” said Mr Mac Lochlainn.

Mr Mac Lochlainn and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams yesterday said the party would be bringing a private members’ motion to the Dáil next week calling for a full independent inquiry.

Oversight committee
The Minister has agreed to appear before the oversight committee next Wednesday, with the likelihood of a clash over the contents of the briefing.

Lucinda Creighton of the Reform Alliance said the group was calling on the Minister for Justice to express unequivocal support for the GSOC and its independence in carrying out its duty.

She said the Minister’s comments in the Dáil that the GSOC’s allegations it was under surveillance was the result of baseless innuendo was an “extraordinary statement”.