Controversies have undermined Shatter, says Wallace

Independent deputy claims public inquiry required to restore confidence in policing

 Independent deputy Mick Wallace who said the damage to the Minister for Justice’s standing has also hurt the credibility of the Government. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Independent deputy Mick Wallace who said the damage to the Minister for Justice’s standing has also hurt the credibility of the Government. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Sat, Mar 1, 2014, 14:55

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has been damaged by policing controversies over the last 18 months and the Taoiseach must make a decision over his Minister’s future, Mick Wallace said today.

The Independent TD said Mr Kenny “had to make a call” about continuing to support Mr Shatter in the wake of the GSOC and penalty points controversies.

Mr Wallace outlined to RTÉ Radio how he saw Mr Kenny’s dilemma.

“It’s a big call for him, but whether he likes it or not the Minister for Justice has been damaged in the last 18 months. His credibility is not what it was.”

Mr Wallace said the diminished standing of the Minister for Justice was impacting on the credibility of the Government.

“ The credibility of the coalition Government is damaged as well,” he said on the Marian Finucane programme.

“Because they said they were going to do things different. The people don’t actually thing they are doing anything different. They promised something different in the election and if they carried this on to the next election they are not really going to be able to say that they are different from the guys we had before.”

Referring to public attitudes at the last election, Mr Wallace said: “There had been so much talk of people wanting new politics, they wanted transparency and they wanted accountability.

“ They didn’t want things done in the old way. Fine Gael and Labour promised to be different. They are not any different. We had an election three years ago but nothing really changed. Things have gone on much as they always did.”

He said that a range of inquiries established in the wake of the GSOC affair was “half-baked”.

Judge Cooke is not being given judicial powers,” Mr Wallace said. “I’m sure the judge is a good man but give him the proper powers. Why isn’t he using the Commission of Investigations Act 2004 to give him the powers he requires. It is unfair to the judge to put him in that position.”

In terms of accountability, Mr Wallace said “things are better than they were” but he add: “Confidence and trust [in the Garda] will not be restored until we have an independent public inquiry.”

He continued: “In the last 18 months trust and confidence in our police force has diminished, not increased. We are recommending that things be done properly, we are recommending that an independent policing board. We need a buffer between the Minister and the Commissioner.”

Mr Shatter, he alleged, “is not protecting the Garda force but only the Garda Commissioner” who, he claimed “had performed abysmally”.