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Wednesday 23 July 2014

Motion of confidence in Alan Shatter passes

Government win with 95 votes to 51

Published 02/04/2014|19:12

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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter watches on during a vote of confidence on his ministerial position this evening.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has survived a vote of no confidence this evening.

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The motion was tabled by Fianna Fail in light of the various controversies that have hit Mr Shatter's department in recent weeks including the garda station taping scandal and the resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Fianna Fail said that it has “long lost confidence” in Mr Shatter's ability to oversee the administration of justice.

During the speeches prior to the vote, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin said Shatter refuses to acknowledge any mistakes he has made. He added that the minister's actions have damaged morale within the Gardai.

"From his first days in office, he has been aggressively dismissive," he said.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan defended Mr Shatter, saying most of the instances causing concern in the Department of Justice over recent months were caused during the time Fianna Fail was in power.

He added that he was "deeply disturbed" by the way Minister Shatter's reputation had been challenged.

Fianna Fail's Niall Collins said all TDs have received hate mail and that Minister Shatter's experiences today is "not relevant to this debate".

This morning, a cabinet colleague, Frances Fitzgerald defended Mr Shatter and said that she believed he will survive the vote.

She said: “He's the most reforming Minister for Justice that we've had.

He's had a huge agenda which he has dealt with very assiduously, terrific reforms in Justice that have been lying around waiting to happen for 30 years in my view.”

Earlier today a package containing white powder, a nazi photograph and a swastika emblem was discovered at Alan Shatter's home.  A major security alert was put in place after the sinister threat was discovered shortly after 9am.

The sinister letter led to the army bomb disposal team being dispatched his South Dublin home shortly before 10am.

The white powder sent to Mr Shatter's home in an envelope was identified as baking powder after being tested by gardai.

The swastika appeared in an image of Nazi soldiers at a rally, which was contained in the envelope. It was a picture of soldiers at a rally with a series of Nazi-swastika flags.

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Army specialists examined the powder at his home and the incident was quickly declared a hoax with the bomb disposal team leaving the scene at 10.45am.

A spokesperson at the Department of Justice refused to comment on the incident saying that it was an “operational matter” which gardai were dealing with.

It is understood that officers based at Dundrum Garda Station will now be attempting to trace who sent the letter to Minister Shatter.

How the package was delivered is not known.

Local residents said the gardai have a constant presence at the house, and that the post had not been delivered at that stage of the morning.

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Mr Shatter left his home shortly after 10.45am but declined to comment on the incident when approached.

Several detectives accompanied the Minister from the house, and access to the estate was limited by a garda at the home of the minister.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the sending of anti-semetic material to the home of Justice Minister Alan Shatter earlier today as a “new low.”

Speaking in the Dail Leaders’ Questions, Mr Kenny said he deplored the sending of such offensive material to Mr Shatter, just because he happens to be Jewish.

“This morning at the home of the Minister for Justice, an item arrived by post, which contained anti-Semitic material and a substance which analysed turned out to be harmless.

The minister is in the house a long time. Members of the Jewish faith have been members of the Fianna Fail party, the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party. This has sunk to a new low,” he said.

He also said a “stream of similar material” had also been received by the Department of Justice.

“Irrespective of the normal rough and tumble here in politics, we can all deplore that. It is not in order that anti-Semitic material is being received by the minister who just happens to be a member of a particular faith,” Mr Kenny.

Minister for Health James Reilly said this morning that the incident was "absolutely appalling". He also said that the threat was illegal, criminal and will be treated as such.

This morning,  Junior Minister Alex White said he wants to “condemn outright” threat to Mr Shatter, his Dublin South constituency colleague.

By Tom Brady, Ken Foy, Laura Butler, Jason Kennedy and Conor Feehan

Irish Independent

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