Shatter ‘should tell Dáil’ of breath test

Independent TD Mattie McGrath calls for Minister for Justice to make statement to Dáil on alleged incident

Mattie McGrath  asked if, in the public interest and to facilitate greater transparency, the Tánaiste would call on the Minister for Justice to immediately make available the Garda report on the 2012 incident. Photograph: David Sleator

Mattie McGrath asked if, in the public interest and to facilitate greater transparency, the Tánaiste would call on the Minister for Justice to immediately make available the Garda report on the 2012 incident. Photograph: David Sleator

Fri, May 24, 2013, 08:38

Independent TD Mattie McGrath called for a Dáil statement from Alan Shatter on an alleged incident involving gardaí before he became Minister for Justice.

He asked if Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who was taking Opposition Leaders’ Question, or Taoiseach Enda Kenny, were aware if the Minister was stopped at a Garda checkpoint in Dublin in late February or March 2012. This was the period between the general election and Mr Shatter’s appointment as Minister.

He asked if Mr Shatter had been cautioned by a garda, under the Road Traffic Act 2010, or whether gardaí used their discretion on that occasion.

Other questions, said Mr McGrath, related to whether Mr Shatter was asked to produce a breath specimen under the Act’s mandatory provision. He asked if Mr Shatter’s behaviour and reaction to the request “were appropriate and cordial, whether he attempted to use the privilege of travelling to and from the Dáil as a means of avoiding a breath test or being stopped at a Garda checkpoint and whether he gave a breath specimen’’.


Transparency
Mr McGrath asked if, in the public interest and to facilitate greater transparency, the Tánaiste would call on the Minister to immediately make available the Garda report on the incident.

Mr Gilmore said he had no idea if the Minister was stopped by gardaí before or after the general election. “How would I know that?’’ he added.

He said that he himself had once been stopped and breath-tested at Galloping Green and Loughlinstown, in Dublin, on the way home. Happily, he had passed.

“I can account for myself, but I certainly cannot account for when any member of this House, or a member of the public for that matter, was stopped by gardaí, breathalysed or cautioned,’’ Mr Gilmore added.

“As we discussed here in the past couple of days, that is a matter between the Garda and the individuals concerned.’’

Responding to some laughter from the Government benches, Mr McGrath said he did not raise it as a joke, adding that the Tánaiste was missing the point.

He said his question was relevant because of the events which had taken place since Mr Shatter was appointed Minister and the way he had treated the public and the Garda.

“The events of last week, involving the fixed penalty points controversy, have highlighted the principle that there must be one law in this country that is applied to all citizens,’’ he added.

“They also highlight the ongoing need to restore and maintain public confidence in the institutions of the State.’’


Details
Mr McGrath said that while he did not expect the Tánaiste to know the details of the incident, he expected that the Taoiseach and himself would inform themselves about the incident and ask the Minister to make a Dáil statement.

Mr Gilmore repeated that he did not have any information on the matter.

The first critical issue, he added, was that the law was applied fairly and evenly to everybody. Second, there was a discretion, a commonsense approach, which gardaí, by and large, took in applying the law.