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Friday 19 September 2014

Shatter pulls out of Garda Reserve graduation event

Tom Brady and John Downing

Published 04/04/2014 | 02:30

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Justice minister Alan Shatter pictured at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis with butcher Pat O'Connell.  Picture;  GERRY MOONEY.   1/3/14
Justice Minister Alan Shatter

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has pulled out of a planned visit to the Garda College in Templemore today for a Garda Reserve graduation ceremony.

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The last-minute withdrawal was disclosed as the minister spoke for the first time since the shock resignation of Martin Callinan as garda commissioner last week.

Officials cited "pressure of work" for his decision not to travel today. "Recent events have left him with a considerable backlog of work with which he must now deal," one official said. It is understood he has scheduled a number of meetings with officials.

Mr Shatter also emphasised last night his determination to get back to routine work as he launched a new 'Mediation Clinic' at Independent College in Dublin. The service was described as "for people who are in a dispute and who want to learn how mediation could help resolve their dispute".

Mr Shatter told the audience mediation was almost always preferable to litigation. He then departed from his script to make a specific comment.

QUESTIONS

"It's great to get back to doing the real business of being Minister for Justice and addressing real issues of substance that impact on people's lives," he said.

Mr Shatter was due to attend the ceremony today and then take questions from the media, alongside Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.

It will be the first time that she has spoken in public, since taking up her new post, about the phone taping controversy, its impact on morale in the force and life after Mr Callinan's resignation.

Since he took up office, Mr Shatter has been a regular face at the Reserve graduation ceremonies and has taken a keen interest in the number of foreign nationals being attracted to the part-time force.

The Reserve ceremonies also gave him an opportunity to visit the college while the ban on recruitment to the full-time force remained in operation.

The last full-time recruit class to walk into Templemore was in 2009 and they graduated in 2011. In the meantime, the strength of the force has dropped from 14,500 to 13,000.

A total of 79 reserves, comprised of 58 men and 21 women, are due to graduate today. They include Irish, Ukrainian, Chinese, Italian, Polish and Romanian nationals.

The current strength of the Reserve force stands at 1,294.

Irish Independent

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