Opposition to table vote of no confidence in Justice Minister

Kenny put loyalty first, says Martin


Fianna Fáil is to table a motion of no confidence in Minister for Justice Alan Shatter who it says no longer has the faith of the public in administering justice in Ireland.

Party leader Micheál Martin has also accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of putting loyalty first in acting to safeguard Mr Shatter’s position, which he said was untenable.

The decision to table the motion was taken in relation to a “long series of issues”, he explained, in particular his handling of the penalty points controversy and his “consistent and persistent” undermining of the whistleblowers involved.

He also noted Mr Shatter’s “adversarial approach” to the recent issue of the bugging of the offices of the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission.

The motion will be tabled next week as part of the private members business in the Dáil.

Speaking outside Leinster House today, Mr Martin said it was his view the retired Garda commissioner was “gagged” in order to protect the interests of the Minister for Justice.

“We are told now that officials in the Department of Justice advised the Garda Commissioner, who was of a mind to apologise in the context of his utilisation of the phrase ‘disgusting’ in the Public Accounts Committee and to withdraw that remark, and he was advised by department officials not to do so,” he said.

“The only conclusion is he was essentially gagged or he was essentially prevented from doing that, maybe because the department are conscious of the impact that would have on the Minister who of course was up to then steadfastly refusing to withdraw and apologise for his conduct in respect of the whistleblowers.”

Rounding on Taoiseach Enda Kenny, he said that he and Mr Shatter had acted in unison on the matter due to a sense of loyalty.

“The Taoiseach has put loyalty above everything else in this entire debate and almost to the extent of moving on the Garda Commissioner to save Minister Shatter,” he said.

“I think there is a very strong link between them, a very strong bond between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice.”

It was his view that based on the reasons outlined during the week, Mr Callinan should not have resigned and that his stepping-down had not been called for by Fianna Fáil.

On the same subject, he said Mr Shatter had been “in hiding” on Monday and Tuesday, and Ireland now required a “fresh start” toward the administration of justice.

“In our view Minister Alan Shatter no longer has that capacity or indeed the confidence of the public to do that and that is why we are tabling this motion next week,” he said.

“It is also extraordinary that we now learn that on that Monday evening the secretary general of the Department of Justice said to the commissioner that there was great disquiet in Cabinet and amongst the Cabinet about the phone recording situation even though we know now, or we are told by other Ministers, that they knew absolutely nothing about it on Monday night.”