Alan Shatter feels the hooves of history on his shoulders

Is this now an end to the sorry saga of Shatter, the Garda commissioner and the whistleblowers?

Dáil Éireann had witnessed the conscious uncoupling of the Minister for Justice from his pride

Dáil Éireann had witnessed the conscious uncoupling of the Minister for Justice from his pride

Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 01:00

Alan Shatter felt the hooves of history on his shoulders yesterday, but will nobody spare a thought for the wild horses?

For six months, these noble beasts were yoked to an immovable object and forced to work, night and day, to try and shift it. This is surely a case for the animal protection authorities.

Mercifully, the exhausted beasts were released from their wretched toil last evening – their work done.

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An apology finally dragged from Shatter.

Dáil Éireann had witnessed the conscious uncoupling of the Minister for Justice from his pride.

Is this now an end to the sorry saga of Shatter, the Garda commissioner and the whistleblowers?

It would have been, had Shatter – the immovable Minister – acted earlier.

But his apology now seems nothing more than a procedural formula of words uttered to get himself, and more importantly, a severely rattled Government, out of the mess he helped create for them.

Those hooves of history have left behind a scarred and rutted political landscape. They tell a tale – that it’s too late, the story has moved on. Those whistleblowers, gracious in their vindication last night, have outgrown the label they were given.

By seeking to disregard their claims while unable to neutralise their persistent presence, Minister Shatter and the former Garda commissioner set in train a chain of events which have grown to a full blown Government crisis. They turned the whistleblowers into the thread-pullers.

And still the story unravels for the Coalition.

Shatter’s apology provided an entertaining cameo yesterday during another day of drama in Leinster House. But once the wild horses had dragged it out of him, it was viewed by most as a thing of little consequence. Minister agrees to correct the Dáil record.

But does anybody believe his contrition? And why should Shatter be allowed to correct that record?

Speaking of which, the Taoiseach may have to seek to correct the record himself after his magnificently flawed statement during Leaders’ Questions when he mounted yet another strong defence of Shatter. His Minister is a man who has “got the courage to deal with the truth and to change it where it’s necessary in the interests of our citizens and our country”.

Let’s think about that.

Somebody should have told the normally impeccably turned out Taoiseach that his Freudian slip was showing.

But perhaps that unintended remark was understandable in the fraught circumstances in the Dáil yesterday morning, when the Government found itself in a firestorm and trying to deal with outbreaks on a number of fronts. There were more Labour deputies and Ministers in the chamber when Shatter delivered the first of his two statements – the second coming late in the afternoon.

This one was on the recent developments on Garda phone taping so dramatically introduced into the mix by the Taoiseach on Tuesday.

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