News Politics

Wednesday 17 September 2014

The Shatter controversies

Fionnan Sheahan and John Downing

Published 20/02/2014 | 02:30

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ALAN Shatter doesn't just have a habit of annoying people – he pretty much has an addiction.

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The Justice Minister is much maligned for his ability to come across as smug, arrogant and not caring about the views of the public at large.

Humility and modesty are not often characteristics associated with the Dublin South TD.

Mr Shatter is renowned for his work ethic and even his detractors in Government accept that he ploughs through a phenomenal amount of policy and legislation.

However, his approach to the task at hand sometimes makes life difficult for him.

Frequently he clashes with his Coalition counterparts in the Labour Party, who claim he shows a lack of respect and looks down upon their status.

His capacity for giving long-winded and legalistic answers to questions by the Opposition and media alike is well known.

Controversy seems to cling to him, yet he appears to relish the task. Numerous colleagues repeatedly claim he doesn't care what people say about him.

The Justice Minister has become mired in numerous contentious issues over the past three years.

After being involved in politics for more than 30 years, Mr Shatter waited a long time to reach the top. He's survived several controversies so far, and his luck doesn't show any sign of running out.

APPOINTMENT

Shatter came under fire in June 2011 for appointing political supporter Oliver Connolly to the €12,500 per year part-time post of 'confidential recipient', relaying complaints from individual gardai to the Garda Commissioner.

Connolly was recorded as donating €1,000 to Shatter's 2007 Dail election fund.

BARRACKS

To cut spending and re-organise the Army, Shatter closed four army barracks as part of Budget 2012. Super Junior Minister Willie Penrose resigned from Cabinet and the Labour whip over the closure of Mullingar barracks in his constituency.

CLOSURES

Shatter persisted with plans to close up to 100 garda stations countrywide from early 2013. There were nationwide protests, including 2,000 people on the streets of Stepaside, Co Dublin, in his own constituency.

POINTS

A row over alleged improper quashing of driver penalty points by gardai has dragged on for almost two years and is now being examined by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission. Shatter has been criticised for not being more decisive.

WALLACE

Independent TD Mick Wallace complained when Shatter revealed on live television in 2013 that Wallace had been stopped by gardai using his mobile phone while driving. Wallace said Shatter made improper use of confidential information given to him by gardai.

BREATHALYSER

Shatter admitted failing to complete a breathalyser test at a garda checkpoint because he was asthmatic. The incident happened in 2009, or possibly late 2008.

LAURA

Shatter was the subject of the last complaint to the Censorship Board for his 1990 steamy book, 'Laura', re-issued after his Cabinet appointment in March 2011. It is the tale of a pro-life politician who urges his secretary, pregnant following their affair, to have an abortion.

REFORMS

Shatter's reform of the legal profession, the biggest changes to the legal system in the history of the State, caused tensions with the Labour Party.

REHAB

Shatter dragged Rehab into the controversy around the finances of charities, by pointing to the "low profit margins". In a Dail speech, he revealed less than €10,000 profit for the charity was generated from €4m worth of sales Rehab Lotteries instant win scratch card.

BUGGING

Shatter struggled to contain the fallout from the alleged bugging of the Garda Ombudsman. The minister clashed with the Garda Ombudsman and was accused of playing down the threats.

Irish Independent

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