McGrath calls on Shatter to publish report on breathalyser incident

Minister’s statement that he was ’waved on’ by garda is ’totally erroneous’

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to publish a garda report into a breathalyser incident in which he was involved. Picture : Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to publish a garda report into a breathalyser incident in which he was involved. Picture : Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Fri, May 24, 2013, 10:10

Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has called on Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to publish a Garda report into the checkpoint incident in which the Minister was asked to give a breathalyser test.

Mr McGrath said gardaí would have had no choice but to make a report because of the nature of the incident.

“They were left in quite an upset state because of the nature and the nastiness of the incident and Mr Shatter is saying he was waved on,” he claimed this morning. “My information is that is totally erroneous.”

Mr Shatter had been asked in the Dáil about an incident he was involved in related to a breathalyser test in 2011.

In a statement yesterday, the Minister said the incident happened in 2009 or late 2008 at a mandatory checkpoint in Pembroke Street in Dublin. He said he was asked to exhale into a breathalyser and did so but failed to fully complete the task due to being asthmatic. He said he explained this to the garda and also explained he was on his way home from the Dáil and had consumed no alcohol and was waved on.

Mr McGrath said not all of the questions he thought should be answered had been answered. He said the Minister for Justice had to be seen to be “really upholding the law and really respectful of the law and respectful of members of the Garda Síochána”.

He also told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme it was his understanding it was an offence for anybody to refuse to provide or fail to provide a specimen. He denied he had received information on the incident from gardaí.

“Unlike the Minister, I don’t go around trawling into people’s careers to find out what went on in the past,” Mr McGrath said.

“It’s a public place on a public street in Pembroke outside a pretty noted restaurant. People are out there smoking on the streets … members of the public come to me with huge issues of concern and I check out the facts as best I can.”

Referring to comments made by Mr Shatter about Mick Wallace on RTÉ television, Mr McGrath said he had “a huge issue” with what the Minister disclosed and the way he did it.

The public was encouraged to report information to gardaí and he worried they might not have confidence that “some minister” will not “say it out on Prime Time”.

Mr McGrath said Mr Shatter should make “a full and clear statement” to the Dáil because “confidence in the gardaí has to be paramount here”.

He also criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny for failing to provide the report cards on his ministers that he had promised. He had “either lost the cards or else he’s no lead in the pencil,” Mr McGrath said.