Kenny backs Shatter over use of information on Wallace

Taoiseach says Minister for Justice ‘is not in a position of collecting files on any individual or any member of the House’

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the Justice Minister Alan Shatter attend a memorial service for Gardai killed in the line of duty at Dublin Gardens, Dublin Castle on Saturday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the Justice Minister Alan Shatter attend a memorial service for Gardai killed in the line of duty at Dublin Gardens, Dublin Castle on Saturday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Sun, May 19, 2013, 21:09

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has defended Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s use of information held by the Garda when he revealed that Independent TD Mick Wallace had escaped penalty points for using a mobile phone while driving last year.

Mr Wallace has accused Mr Shatter of trying to “discredit” him by revealing the information during an RTE television debate on Thursday night. Mr Wallace has said he was unaware of the incident.

Mr Shatter, who has been accused of abusing Garda information for political purposes, declined to say where he got his information and did not issue a statement on the matter today.

Speaking in Boston today, Mr Kenny said the Minister had pointed out that Mr Wallace was “adamant” that gardai should show no discretion when awarding penalty points for motoring offence when the deputy himself was “the recipient of discretion before a fixed penalty point notice was actually issued.”

The Taoiseach said that this information was “relevant to the background of this discussion.”

“People cannot have it both ways. You cannot be saying that there should be no discretion used and at the same time avail of discretion,” he said.

On the issue of Mr Shatter’s use of the personal information relating to Mr Wallace, Mr Kenny said: “I want to make it clear that the Minister for Justice is not in a position of collecting files on any individual or any member of the House or anybody else.”

Mr Shatter referred to an incident last year when Mr Wallace was seen using his mobile phone while driving in Dublin. The garda exercised his discretion to allow the Wexford TD to continue driving after giving him a verbal warning.

Mr Wallace has said that he was unaware of the alleged incident and has accused the Minister for Justice of attempting to discredit him in the penalty points row.

Mr Kenny said that the Minister for Justice has his 100 per cent support on the issue and that Mr Shatter would have “no difficulty” discussing the report published last week dismissing allegations of Garda corruption on penalty points before the Oireachtas justice, defence and equality committee.

The Taoiseach made his comments during a three-day visit to Boston to give the Boston College’s commencement address tomorrow.