Taoiseach does the talking for Minister Shatter. Again . . .
As Enda faced the Dáil yesterday, his Minister wasn’t on hand to help
Enda Kenny and Alan Shatter at this month’s Fine Gael Ardfheis. The Justice Minister was not on hand as the Taoiseach fielded questions in the Dáil yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
The Taoiseach and his Minister for Justice had a chat before Dáil business yesterday. “He was very happy to note Garda McCabe was in full co-operation with the Inspectorate inquiry,” Enda told the Dáil.
That was very big of Alan Shatter, pointing out how he is happy to acknowledge that Maurice McCabe had performed to his satisfaction this time. Here was the Minister grudgingly throwing a good word in the direction of the Garda whistleblower, although it took the Taoiseach to do the talking for him. Again.
As the two men had their tete-a-tete in advance of the annual St Patrick’s Day airlift, Enda must have been sorely tempted to shake his Minister warmly by the throat and tell him not to come back from Mexico until he discovered some humility.
- Penalty points report from 2007 was ignored, says author
- Cabinet agrees to overhaul penalty points regime
- Shatter accused of burying points issue
- Whistleblower says report a ‘damning indictment’
- Inspectorate findings are embarassing for the Garda but not devastating
- Widespread breaches in penalty points system uncovered
Fat chance. Did the Taoiseach, in the course of their conversation, ask Alan if he could explain how parts of the Garda Inspectorate’s report into the penalty points system found its way into the hands of a crime correspondent the night before it was due to be presented to the Cabinet?
Enda told Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin that he could not comment on the contents of the report because Alan Shatter hadn’t passed it over to him. Yet Micheál and Caoimhghín were happy to talk about its findings, having heard them the night before on the news.
Alan Shatter must have been very annoyed, not having had a chance to brief the Taoiseach before the document fell into the hands of a journalist.
So when Leaders’ Questions began and the Opposition cornered Enda on the report, which more or less backed up the story told by the Garda whistleblowers, the Taoiseach was still in the dark.
Alan Shatter wasn’t on hand to help. He was probably on the phone, seething, ordering a full investigation to how those details were leaked, thus forcing his department to announce it is decisively dealing with the situation.
No doubt, when he returns from his shamrock-shaking stint in Latin America, the Minister will root out the mole and take appropriate disciplinary action. People who leak confidential information are, to quote the Garda Commissioner, “disgusting.”
Enda did his best not to sound disgusted at being confronted in the chamber over the behaviour of Alan Shatter.
The Minis ter had dismissed the whistleblowers’ allegations of systemic failings in the pen- alty points system as nothing of the sort. In a small minority of cases, the correct procedure hadn’t been followed and that was about the size of it, Shatter had concluded.
The Garda Commissioner had assured him of this and a very senior officer investigated the allegations and found next to nothing, but the whistleblowers stuck to their stories. Shatter cast doubts on their motives.