Shatter worried Garda body could be ‘police version of HSE’

Minster feared politicians could ‘hide’ behind independent body

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter with Gerry Smith, president of the Association of Garda Superintendents, at the 2014 Annual Conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents. Photograph: Collins

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter with Gerry Smith, president of the Association of Garda Superintendents, at the 2014 Annual Conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents. Photograph: Collins

 

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said that his opposition to the establishment of an independent Garda authority had been due to concerns that it would become a “police version of the HSE”, behind which the minister of the day could hide, or blame if anything went wrong.

In an interview with The Irish Times , Mr Shatter said the current proposal for oversight of the force to be worked out by the Government would have “democratic accountability” and would therefore be a “worthwhile reform”.

Mr Shatter also said he was confident no further issues would emerge which would contradict the version of events outlined by him in the Dáil on the Garda taping controversy.

Many in the Labour Party have privately warned Mr Shatter’s explanations to the Dáil must hold, or his position could be in jeopardy. But the Minister declined to discuss specifics of the controversy, such as the resignation of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

“I am not going to reprise issues that have previously been addressed,” he said. “I am very happy that we have a statutory commission of inquiry and I am very happy that all of those issues are addressed there.”

As well as setting up a commission of investigation into the taping, the Coalition intends to establish an independent Garda authority to oversee the force. A new Cabinet committee on Justice Reform will oversee these changes in the justice system.