Minister Alan Shatter faces no-confidence vote as questions intensify
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter will come under renewed pressure today to answer outstanding questions in the garda taping controversy.
Ministers are preparing a show of unity for the Dail confidence debate on Mr Shatter's future – but conflict has also intensified over how government members and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan recall key elements of the unfolding controversy.
Labour Ministers Eamon Gilmore and Ruairi Quinn have made it clear that they support Mr Shatter in this week's confidence vote. But they have also both asked again why Mr Shatter did not see a letter from Mr Callinan on March 10 until the afternoon of March 25.
The issue of the delay in Mr Shatter seeing this letter will also strongly feature at a hearing of the Oireachtas Justice Committee. The justice committee members hope to hear from Mr Shatter, Justice Department secretary general Brian Purcell, and others.
Meanwhile Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he did not understand how Mr Callinan had known of the systematic taped phone conversations at garda stations since last November, but failed to tell the Justice Minister.
As controversy continues to rage, Mr Shatter faces a motion of no confidence in the Dail.
Fine Gael and Labour will strongly defend the embattled minister during the debate tonight and are expected to vote confidence in him tomorrow evening but they remain cautious on the issue.
"We accept Mr Shatter's explanations to the Dail last week and support him on that basis. We remain surprised at how long it took him to receive an important letter," a Labour spokesman said last night.
Health Minister James Reilly has also strongly supported the Justice Minister. "I believe people do not question his honesty," Dr Reilly said of Mr Shatter.
While Fine Gael and Labour have the numbers to comfortably win tomorrow night's vote, there is unease about some of the detailed questions Mr Shatter will face.