Shatter queried on dual defence and justice roles

Fri, Feb 8, 2013, 00:00

Ireland may be the only democracy where a minister for justice also holds the defence portfolio, the Dáil has heard.

Fianna Fáil defence spokesman Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to consider the issue when consultations began on the defence Green Paper, an initial discussion document on future policy.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl questioned whether there was any other democracy where the person in control of the police force was also in control of the military. “Are there any powers the Minister for Defence might normally hold that the Minister has been divested of by virtue of the fact that he is also Minister for Justice?” he asked.

Mr Shatter said as far as he knew there were no powers the Minister for Defence normally had that he had been relieved of. “On the assumption that I remain sane, I assure the deputy I have no intention of posing any threat to the State by virtue of my being in this unusual position.”

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said the precedent to have one person holding both portfolios appeared to have been set in Ireland and asked if any other EU state operated on a similar basis. The Minister said he believe one other member state did but would inform the deputy when he confirmed this.

Consultation

He was answering defence questions in the Dáil and outlining his plan to publish the initial consultation document or Green Paper on Ireland’s defence policy within the next two months.

Afterwards a public consultation process will begin, after which a new formal policy document or White Paper will be completed by early next year.

Mr Shatter said the two departments were entirely separate but with interesting overlaps.