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Saturday 23 August 2014

Shatter faces fresh calls to resign after breaking the law

Daniel McConnell and Niall O'Connor

Published 06/05/2014 | 17:52

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Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter

Justice Minister Alan Shatter will face fresh calls for his resignation after it was found that he broke the law by leaking sensitive data about Independent TD Mick Wallace.

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The Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes today concluded his report into Mr Shatter's actions on RTE's 'Primetime' during which he revealed that Mr Wallace had been cautioned by gardai for driving while using a mobile phone.

Mr Hawkes stated that the minister breached data protection laws by leaking the information during the live programme.

Mr Shatter later apologised to his Dail colleague for leaking the information during the broadcast last May. In his correspondence with Mr Hawkes, he emphasised that this apology had taken place.

Mr Shatter said that he received the information during a briefing with former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

However following the broadcast,  Mr Wallace lodged a formal complaint with the Data Protection Commissioner who has ruled against Mr Shatter.

The finding, revealed first in the Sunday Independent, will open Mr Shatter up to being sued by Mr Wallace.

But more significantly, the finding will be used by the Opposition in their repeated calls for the Justice Minister to resign.

Reacting to the report’s findings, Independent TD Mick Wallace called on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to resign, after the Data Protection Commissioner found the minister broke the law.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Wallace said: “I was curious to hear what the minister had to say about it when he said he hadn’t committed a criminal offence, which is true, but he has breached the data protection act. He has abused his office and he has broken the law.”

“If it is ok for the Minister for Justice to do that, well that is a call for the Taoiseach to make. It is a big call. You can’t help feeling, Minister Shatter interprets the law as he chooses.

“Repeatedly he has been reluctant to use the strongest legislation open to him to investigate allegations of corruption and malpractice within the police force. On this occasion he has done something similar. You can’t help feeling that the minister thinks he is above the law.”

“Well it is not for me to tell the Taoiseach what to do. He stands by his minister. That is his call. The people of Ireland have long lost confidence in Mr Shatter as Minister for Justice,” he said.

“I have said he should resign a long time ago. I do think the minister should resign. He is unfit to hold office. He has failed to deal comprehensive and transparently to deal with the various challenges to come before him.

Mr Wallace said he will sit down with his legal people to decide if he will take any further action in relation to Mr Hawkes’ findings.

A spokeswoman for Mr Shatter offered no comment when contacted by independent.ie.

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