Saturday 23 September 2017

Shatter: I haven't spoken to Taoiseach in three months

Alan Shatter
Alan Shatter

Sam Griffin

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter revealed he has not spoken to Enda Kenny since June.

But the Dublin South TD described the Taoiseach as "an extraordinary politician" and insisted he hadn't been "shafted" by Mr Kenny.

Mr Shatter, who resigned as minister on May 7, robustly defended his handling of a number of controversies within the Irish justice system.

But he said he felt his position had become "untenable" after reading sections of the government-ordered Guerin Report into the handling of allegations of Garda malpractice, which had been made by two garda whistleblowers.

Speaking on The Late, Late Show about his decision to resign, Mr Shatter said: "I got a text message from the Taoiseach. He said he had the Guerin Report and that it was a serious matter and asked that I meet him.

"I identified the first couple of chapters and went to read that part of the report that addressed issues relating to myself. I was very surprised it contained opinions and conclusions on matters that I dealt with as minister, particularly because Mr Guerin hadn't asked me any questions, hadn't been in contact with me," he said of the 350-page report.

He said his analysis was that his position had become "untenable". This was because he said "no one would listen to anything I had to say" because of "a media frenzy" over previous weeks.

He said the Taoiseach had accepted his resignation and that there was no "antagonism" between the two.

He described the Taoiseach as "an extraordinary politician" but also revealed he hasn't spoken with Mr Kenny since June.

"Our paths haven't crossed since," added the TD, who has taken a High Court case in an effort to overturn some of the findings of the Guerin Report.

Mr Shatter robustly defended his handling of a number of controversies that dominated his final year in office.

He received sharp criticism for initially ordering gardai to investigate internally the allegations made by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe, but said this was because the allegations were very complex.

"They were very detailed (complaints) received from Sgt McCabe. The first step as minister I have to take is to get the garda view. You ask for a view, you don't pre-judge," he said.

He agreed some of the allegations were very serious but added that others "weren't substantiated". He dismissed suggestions that he hadn't taken seriously the allegations of the whistleblowers and rejected that the Taoiseach had taken them more seriously than he had.

On the GSOC 'bugging' controversy, he said the Garda Ombudsman "had failed to comply with the law" by not informing him of suspicions that the GSOC office was under surveillance and "effectively covered up" hiring a UK firm to conduct a sweep of their offices.

Asked about the retirement of the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, he said he could not comment on the matter as it was before the Fennelly Commission. He denied ever misleading the Dail.

And he added: "I think Martin Callinan as Garda Commissioner did an extraordinary job in a whole range of areas".

Mr Shatter described his time as Justice Minister as "probably the most challenging, most interesting job of my life".

When asked if he would return to the Cabinet table if asked, he said "of course," And he hinted he would contest another Dail election if supported by the Fine Gael party.

However, he also criticised the attitude of some Cabinet colleagues: "There's always someone who feels the need to engage in gossip," he said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News