Wallace lets fly at Shatter in heated Dáil debate

Independent TD asks how Fine Gael can stand over claim it is the party of law and order

Independent TD Mick Wallace asked how Fine Gael could stand over claims it was the ‘party of law and order’ during the all-day Dáil debate on allegations of Garda malpractice and incompetence.

“Fine Gael used to pride itself as the party of law and order. How in God’s name can they still stand over that?”

He said Minister Alan Shatter’s attitude to all allegations by Independent TDs about penalty points was to “minimise, dismiss and rubbish all the way”.

Policing “is overpoliticised in Ireland”.

GSOC issued the Boylan report and their annual report last year. “They were damning of the force and they were damning of the lack of co-operation,” he said.

He added that the new protocol imposed in September was supposed to improve exchange of information between the two was only ‘soft law’ and there was no compulsion involved. He said this was “more weak application of law”.

Mr Wallace also referred to the Roma children affair, when two children who looked different from other family members, were temporarily removed from their families.

Mr Wallace said the Minister would not let GSOC look at it and there was not going to be any examination of Garda racial profiling in the terms of reference allowed the Children’s Ombudsman.

He accused the Minister of not giving GSOC sufficient powers to investigate complaints by Corrib Gas protestors.

He also accused Mr Shatter of failing to use strong legislation in order not to seek out or reveal the truth. “You wouldn’t ask the Commissioner if he actually engaged in lawful surveillance in case you might be told something you had to stand over.”

He said the Minister had only given GSOC access to the Garda pulse system a few weeks ago “under political pressure”

And he told Mr Shatter: Your prime motives are political survival and have very little to do with the administration of justice.”

Mr Wallace then read out an extract of an email from the nephew of murdered priest Father Niall Molloy about the controversial investigation of his death.

“He said ‘for almost 30 years people have hidden behind a wall of silence, deceit, corruption and cover-up; time for the light of justice to shine on them and reveal them to the people for what they are.”

He said to Mr Shatter: “Minister if you are going to stay in power and the Commissioner is going to stay in place then I think this parliament is a sham.”

And he shouted: “Minister, you look up at us and you say how dare those people with the long air and raggy jeans have the audacity to challenge you?”

He told Mr Shatter: “It’s time for you to go Minister and bring the Commissioner with you.”

Independent TD Clare Daly said allegations of Garda misconduct were not isolated incidents but an institutional problem.

She told Minister for Justice Alan Shatter he was "absolutely correct, 100 per cent" to say all the complaints made by Sgt McCabe were investigated.

“But they were investigated by procedures that have been demonstrably found to be inadequate - the gardaí investigating themselves, a toothless GSOC and a confidential recipient that was not fit for purpose”.

These procedures were inadequate to deal with the penalty points. “Clearly they’re inadequate to deal with all the other allegations as well” and the Minister could not “get away with it by deflecting”.

Ms Daly said: “We are not dealing with isolated examples. We are dealing with an institutional problem and a problem that patently will not be dealt with while you remain as Minister for Justice.”

Ms Daly said the Minister had told the Dáil he did not have any animosity towards Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe but that he spent most of his contribution trying to undermine him. She said Sgt McCabe was “demonised, bullied, discredited and moved”.

The Minister showed a similar attitude to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. The Minister had said he was a great supporter of GSoc but his every action was “to accuse them of not fulfilling their statutory duty and undermining them at every turn”.

Ms Daly also told the Minister “there’s a problem of culture here and your relationship with the Commissioner is at the heart of it”.

She said tribunal reports showed they were “staggered by a small but disproportionately influential core of people at the force and we were told that measures being brought in were going to deal with this. It’s quite clear that the measures that have been implemented haven’t dealt with the problems.”

Ms Daly said there was a small core in the force “demonstrating loyalty to the force above honesty and I think it’s epitomised more than anything else in the antics of the Garda Commissioner”.

She said he “called the whistleblowers ‘disgusting’. He called them ‘so-called whistleblowers’ whom he wouldn’t allow undermine his officers. And it’s this mentality of the force being separate from the interests of the public that they’re supposed to serve.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary reporter with The Irish Times

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times