Fine Gael shows support for Alan Shatter with standing ovation
EMBATTLED Justice Minister Alan Shatter received a standing ovation from party members at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis today.
The minister has endured weeks of turmoil and faced calls to resign from the opposition benches following a spate of controversies that have dominated the Government's agenda.
But today, he received a strong show of support from his Fine Gael colleague at the party's annual convention where delegates took to their feet to applaud the South Dublin politician.
There was also a round of applause when Mr Shatter thanked gay TD Jerry Buttimer for his contribution to the debate on same sex marriage.
Mr Buttimer earlier said he was the only gay deputy in the Fine Gael parliamentary party.
Delegates also cheered and clapped when a motion supporting the passing of the forthcoming referendum on same sex marriage passed.
The minister used his speech to round on political opponents who questioned his integrity during recent debates on the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission bugging scandal and allegations of garda misconduct raised by whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
He said he would not be lectured on policing from either Sinn Fein or Fianna Fáil and questioned both parties' track record on garda issues.
He pointed out that Sinn Fein members welcomed home Garda Gerry McCabe's killers and celebrated their release from prison. He also criticised the party for failing to condemn the murders of two PSNI officers following the finding of the Smithwicks Tribunal.
He questioned Fianna Fáil's management of the justice system while in office and got a laugh from the the crowed when he asked: "can anyone remember anything Willie O'Dea (former Justice Minister) did apart from pose with a gun".
He also took a swipe at Independent TD Luke "Ming" Flanagan during a debate on a motion calling for cannabis to be legalised.
There was some embarrassment for the minister when a motion calling for the garda vetting system to be replaced passed despite his objection to the proposal.
The minister argued that extending the validation of clearance from one to two years would put children at risk but delegates passed the motion put forward by the Dublin Central branch of Young Fine Gael.