Shatter demands withdrawal of Nazi analogy

Fri, May 18, 2012, 01:00

MINISTER FOR Defence Alan Shatter demanded an apology in the Dáil from Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan after he made remarks comparing the controversy over raised bogs with Nazi Germany.

Mr Shatter, who described the Roscommon-South Leitrim TD as an “ignorant buffoon”, said that if he was foolish enough to suggest legal difficulties in relation to the bogs replicated what went on in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, he should “educate” himself and “examine his conscience”.

During bitter exchanges at Defence question time, the Minister called on Mr Flanagan to withdraw his remark after the Independent TD, who described Mr Shatter as a “coward”, said “they had laws in Nazi Germany, too, but thank God some people broke them”.

The exchanges erupted during a question from Wexford Independent TD Mick Wallace over the costs associated with the deployment of Air Corps flights to record activity on the 53 special areas of conservation sites on raised bogs, where harvesting peat is illegal.

The cost of using the aircraft came to €13,875 to date this year. Mr Wallace had suggested it was probably a waste of resources to try and police the issue, since “most people accept the turf will probably be cut in any case”.

Mr Shatter said Mr Wallace had “very little respect for the law and has seen fit to break it”.

He said those breaking the law by cutting turf were apparently intent on having fines of tens of thousand of euro imposed by the EU on the rest of the community.

Mr Wallace, who said the Minister’s comment was unfair, retorted that while he was as keen as the Minister to keep within the law, “I am probably less keen than he is to treat people unfairly”.

Mr Flanagan then intervened and said “they had laws in Nazi Germany too, but thank God some people broke them”.

The Minister called on him to withdraw, but the Roscommon-South Leitrim TD replied: “I will not withdraw anything.”

Mr Shatter said if Mr Flanagan “is so foolish as to suggest that the difficulties in relation to the bogs replicate matters that happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, I would suggest he seek to educate himself on what occurred.

“If he thinks there is any comparison between the dispute he is continuing to maintain in relation to bogs and the death of six million people in the Holocaust, perhaps the deputy will go and examine his conscience.”

“We are heading in that direction,” the Independent TD said, interrupting the Minister.

When he asked to be allowed to respond formally to Mr Shatter, Leas Cheann Comhairle Michael Kitt said he had not heard Mr Flanagan’s original comment and called for the next question.

Mr Flanagan said to Mr Shatter: “Do what you are told” and the Minister retorted: “You are an ignorant buffoon.”

As the Independent TD left the chamber, the Minister said it was a pity he did “not have the decency to apologise before he leaves the House”.

Mr Flanagan asked why the Minister had “a right to keep having a go at me without me being given a right to respond? You have not admonished the Minister in any way for the statements he has made.” He said: “I was using an analogy to show that there are times when one has no choice but to break the law.”

When Mr Shatter said it was an analogy he should withdraw, Mr Flanagan repeated: “I will not withdraw anything; I stand by what I said. There are times when responsible citizens break the law in the name of justice.”

At the door of the chamber he turned and said to Mr Shatter: “Do you want to throw something else at me, you coward?”