Crises provide opportunity for reform, says Shatter

Minister not ready to leave post yet

Alan Shatter: “I am very happy that we have a statutory commission of inquiry and I am very happy that all of those issues are addressed there”

Alan Shatter: “I am very happy that we have a statutory commission of inquiry and I am very happy that all of those issues are addressed there”

Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 01:00

By most measures, Alan Shatter is the member of Cabinet under the most pressure as the Government prepares for the local and European elections and the ministerial reshuffle expected thereafter.

He has weathered numerous controversies, even if the credibility of explanations provided by him and the Government on the issue of taping at Garda stations has been widely questioned.

However, in an interview with The Irish Times , Shatter declined to go into detail on the chain of events on the taping affair, including how a letter from Martin Callinan, the former Garda commissioner, did not reach him for two weeks.

Given the broad terms of reference (“Yes, and why shouldn’t they be?” asks the Minister) drawn up for the taping inquiry, is Shatter confident his version of events will stand up to scrutiny and nothing will emerge to contradict him?

“I am, of course. I am, yes.”

But what of those who say the sequence of events as outlined by him, as well as the “who knew what when?” on taping, lacks credibility?

“I am not going to reprise issues that have previously been addressed.

“I am very happy that we have a statutory commission of inquiry and I am very happy that all of those issues are addressed there.”

Recent weeks
Queries on whether Callinan was a victim of An Garda Síochána being dragged into politics, as he says the force itself was in recent weeks, are met with a similar response.

“I’m not going to reprise issues that have been dealt with in some length.”

Questions about his tenure in the Department of Justice have subsided for now, but Shatter says he just gets on “doing the job I am given”.

“I do it to the best of my ability and on occasions, things you are doing generate controversy.

“On occasions, things happen which are not necessarily always presented in the way they happened.

“All of those issues are going to be addressed and dealt with so I am a glass half-full person, not a glass half-empty person. There is a lot of very important work we will be doing in the coming weeks and I am very much focused on that.”

Alleged bugging
Also on the horizon in the coming weeks are the Cooke and Guerin reports into the alleged bugging of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) offices and the dossier containing allegations of Garda malpractice from whistleblower Maurice McCabe respectively. Both have the potential to cause immediate and serious trouble for Shatter upon publication, now expected before the end of the month.

No input
While he insists he has no input into either – “it would be absolutely wrong to be inquiring into it because they are independent” – the Minister says any issues that arise could feed into the new Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform.