Shatter criticises RTÉ reporter

 

MINISTER FOR Justice Alan Shatter has strongly criticised the work of RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds and accused him of engaging in “tabloid sensationalism”.

Mr Shatter was addressing town councillors in Templemore, Co Tipperary, yesterday after attending a graduation ceremony in the Garda College. In a highly personalised rebuke, Mr Shatter told a meeting of Templemore Town Council: “Mr Reynolds has great difficulty in accurately reporting anything. He constantly and consistently engages in tabloid sensationalism of the worst kind and frequently gets it very wrong.”

Reynolds and Mr Shatter had earlier clashed when Reynolds asked the Minister about the appointment of one of his political donors to a part-time post dealing with whistleblowers in An Garda Síochána.

A spokeswoman for RTÉ said the station did not wish to react to Mr Shatter’s comments, but praised Reynolds’s record. “We’re not making any comment on the Minister’s remarks but Paul’s work stands for itself,” she said.

At the meeting, Mr Shatter had assured the councillors that the Templemore facility would not close. Cllr Martin Fogarty expressed disappointment about a recent report by Reynolds on Templemore which included reference to a site outside Templemore due to be developed as part of the overall training facility. Mr Fogarty claimed the report had included footage of an adjacent site, rather than the site itself.

Mr Shatter then voiced his criticisms of Reynolds. “I’m glad that you raised this issue with me because I can tell you that Mr Reynolds has great difficulty in accurately reporting anything. He constantly and consistently engages in tabloid sensationalism of the worst kind and frequently gets it very wrong. It doesn’t surprise me that they even managed to film the wrong field.”

Mr Shatter was earlier asked by reporters at Templemore about the appointment of barrister Oliver Connolly as an external “confidential recipient” for complaints from gardaí about corruption in the force, on a salary of €12,500 a year. Records held by the Standards in Public Office Commission show that Mr Connolly gave Mr Shatter a cheque for €1,000 in the 2007 general election year.

Mr Connolly is the founder of Friary Law, which specialises in mediation services and which has developed a family mediation model together with Mr Shatter, who is a solicitor and expert in family law.

Mr Shatter strongly defended the appointment on Wednesday and yesterday, as did Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night.

“Cronyism is the appointment of people who have neither competence nor merit to jobs that they don’t deserve. In the case of Mr Connolly, clearly he is exceptionally qualified,” Mr Kenny told RTÉ One’s Six One News. Mr Kenny said the previous minister for agriculture Brendan Smith had appointed Mr Connolly to a position of responsibility.