Shatter faces Dáil confidence motion

Independent TD Michael Lowry defends minister but labels him ‘irritatingly dismissive and brash’

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on justice Niall Collins  pictured speaking to the media outside Leinster House today ahead of his no-confidence motion this evening. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on justice Niall Collins pictured speaking to the media outside Leinster House today ahead of his no-confidence motion this evening. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore have offered their support to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter ahead of this evening’s Dáil debate on a motion of no confidence in the Minister.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins, who is to move the motion at 7.30pm, today said Mr Shatter had “fundamentally failed to meet the test of discretion and judgement” required for the role he holds in Government.

“He used private information conveyed to him in confidence for his own and his party’s political benefit,” he said.

Mr Collins was referring to Mr Shatter making a televised allegation, based on garda infromation, that Independent TD Mick Wallace had been stopped and cautioned by gardaí over a motoring offence.

Mr Wallace lodged a complaint with the Standards in Public Office Commission about the release of private information, which Mr Shatter said came up during a routine garda briefing on penalty points.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath subsequently stated in the Dáil that Mr Shatter had been stopped at a Garda checkpoint four or five years ago and failed to provide a breath sample.

Dáil live

Explaining the incident, Mr Shatter said he was asked to exhale into a breathalyser and did so but failed to fully complete the task due to being asthmatic. He said he explained this to the garda and also explained he was on his way home from the Dáil and had consumed no alcohol and was waved on.

Today, Mr Shatter said the Department of Justice had contacted the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to ascertain if a report on the matter existed but that one did not.

On his way into Government Buildings this morning, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Shatter had his full backing ahead of the confidence motion.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore also insisted Mr Shatter had given a full account of the incident and criticised Fianna Fáil for bringing the motion.

“He has issued two statements, one of which explained what happened when he was stopped and the second today saying that he has checked with the Garda Commissioner and there isn’t a Garda report on it,” Mr Gilmore told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. “Frankly, I think Fianna Fáil are dragging the bottom of the barrel for an issue to have a Private Members Motion on,” he said.

Mr Collins said the Tánaiste was missing the point in saying that his party was “dragging the bottom of the barrel” in bringing the motion.

“From our point of view we have serious concerns and we have reached a tipping point with this minister,” he told RTÉ Morning Ireland.

Independent TD Michael Lowry questioned if debating the motion was a good use of Dáil time. He said he intended to vote against the motion on the grounds that Mr Shatter made a mistake, but that his integrity was not in question and therefore “it is not a sacking offence”.

“I do not consider Alan Shatter a political friend. He was never the most popular member of the house. He can be irritatingly dismissive and brash,” Mr Lowry said. “As a political practitioner, I can understand that after 30 years in the Dáil Minister Shatter is entitled to grasp his first appointment as Minister with unbridled enthusiasm.”

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