Strong support for Shatter among Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers
TDs want Minister to resolve any confusionsurrounding whistleblower controversies soon
Junior trade minister Joe Costello, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton at the launch of the Review of the Government Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy, at Iveagh House in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
While many backbenchers yesterday declined to express their views publicly to The Irish Times , with some fearing they might misinterpret what is going on, they privately expressed confidence that the Minister will be able to explain himself to the Dáil this week.
“He is not the most personally popular TD and you would not see him drinking pints with the lads in the Dáil bar,’’ said a Fine Gael TD, in a typical response. “But I think he is honest, innovative and hardworking.’’
Mr Shatter, TDs say, is also accessible to backbenchers, unlike some other Ministers. “His office will always get back to you,’’ said a TD. “You might not get the answer you want, but he will reply to you and he has stored up a lot of credit in that regard.’’
Labour TDs, while seeking clarity on the issues involved, support Mr Shatter, seeing him as an impressive Minister and an ally in Cabinet because of his liberal views on issues such as same-sex marriage.
TDs of both parties agreed the Garda controversies were not an issue with voters on the doorsteps and at clinics. Having spent the weekend and yesterday on clinic duty, they said few people mentioned the Minister or gardaí to them.
“The issues occupying people’s minds relate to the economy, jobs, how much money they have in their pockets at a difficult time economically,’’ said a TD.
The consensus that Mr Shatter has to bring clarity to matters was illustrated in comments made by Dublin Mid-West Labour TD Robert Dowds. “I have a lot of respect for Mr Shatter, as I have for Sgt Maurice McCabe,’’ he said.
“I would like to see the Minister explain whether he has, in any sense, given an incorrect impression of Sgt McCabe as an individual.’’
Mr Dowds and a number of other Labour and Fine Gael TDs supported the recent comments of Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte on the issue. Mr Rabbitte said Mr Shatter “may have been mistaken’’ when he said in the Dáil that Sgt McCabe did not co-operate with the penalty points investigation and that he believed he would “correct the record’’ if he was wrong.
A number of Fine Gael TDs expressed strong support for the Minister and Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the issue.
Fine Gael TD for Cavan-Monaghan Joe O’Reilly said he was happy to await the outcome of the review of the documents involved and he was confident that the Government would do the right thing. Cork South-West Fine Gael TD Jim Daly said he felt the Minister had been forthright in any Oireachtas appearances on the issue.
All agreed there is need for reform on how Garda complaints are handled, with Dublin South Central Labour TD Michael Conaghan saying he would table a question to the Minister advocating the setting up of a policing board.