Saturday 1 October 2016

Former Justice Minister welcomes findings

Published 02/09/2015 | 02:30

Alan Shatter arrives for the naming and commissioning ceremony for the LÉ James Joyce
naval ship in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, yesterday. Photo: Frank McGrath
Alan Shatter arrives for the naming and commissioning ceremony for the LÉ James Joyce naval ship in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, yesterday. Photo: Frank McGrath

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter welcomed the Fennelly Commission findings saying they showed he had no knowledge of the issues involved until March 24, 2014.

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"It is very likely that if the minister had been informed, it would have made a significant difference to the events as they unfolded," the report concludes.

The report found that Attorney General Marie Whelan had believed Mr Shatter had been fully informed when he was not. Mr Justice Nial Fennelly said the Attorney General did not try to contact Mr Shatter or discuss the issues involved with him at a time when he was Justice Minister.

"Although the Attorney General was not under any duty to contact the minister in these circumstances, it would have been both reasonable and prudent for her to have done so," the report states.

Ms Whelan, as Attorney General, told the Taoiseach on Sunday, March 23, and a crucial meeting was called the following day. Mr Shatter was not included in the meeting until some time after it had started.

Mr Justice Fennelly noted that at this stage, Mr Shatter was "uniquely placed to obtain experiences and clarifications from the Garda Commissioner if required". But this did not happen.

"He was not asked to do this," the report author states.

The former Justice Minister told the inquiry he was "firmly of the view that the commissioner was expected by the Taoiseach to consider his position".

Mr Shatter issued a statement soon after the report was published last night. He warmly endorsed the findings and paid tribute to Mr Justice Fennelly.

"I want to thank the Fennelly Commission for the painstaking approach they took to unravelling and documenting what happened. I urge everyone who genuinely cares about our system of government, and who has the public interest at heart, to read the Fennelly Report in full, to give it the careful consideration it deserves and allow it to speak for itself," Mr Shatter said.

The former Justice Minister said numerous lessons needed to be learned from the events surrounding the controversy. Some six weeks after the resignation of M r Callinan, Mr Shatter was obliged to stand down as Justice Minister.

Mr Shatter said the lessons for the future included the fullest communication and co-operation between colleagues in government on such issues; and no rush to make important political decisions under pressure.

The former minister said public servants must fulfil their obligation to fully brief their minister on important information received by them. They must also promptly give the minister all documentation.

Irish Independent

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