Tuesday 25 April 2017

Shatter says sorry to journalist for 'unfair comments'

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter last night apologised to RTE crime correspondent Paul Reynolds for criticisms he made about the award-winning journalist earlier this week.

Mr Shatter launched the broadside against Mr Reynolds during a meeting of Templemore Town Council this week. But he last night apologised to Mr Reynolds for the comments, which he admitted were "unfair and inaccurate".

The Dublin South TD also accused the Irish Independent of "appalling and contemptible" journalism for highlighting how he received €1,000 in 2007 from a supporter, barrister Oliver Connolly, who he this week appointed to a €12,500 position as a whistleblower liaison official for An Garda Siochana.

His attack on Mr Reynolds came after the reporter questioned Mr Shatter about the donation at the Garda College in Templemore on Thursday, and subsequently reported on it for the one o'clock television news.

However, the criticisms of Mr Reynolds came later in the day when Mr Shatter attended the Templemore Town Council chamber to reassure councillors that the Garda College wasn't closing.

Mr Shatter said while as a public figure he had no difficulty in dealing with issues relating to his public duties, he had taken issue with the broadcast of Mr Reynolds on the RTE news concerning Mr Connolly, "a private individual of impeccable integrity who had agreed to act as the Confidential Recipient in relation to An Garda Siochana".

He added: "I inappropriately responded by making comments about Paul, which I now regret and acknowledge were unfair and inaccurate.

"I am advised that Paul Reynolds yesterday apologised to Mr Connolly. I am apologising to Paul Reynolds and I want to acknowledge the contribution and value of his work as RTE's crime correspondent."

However, last night an RTE spokesperson said there was no apology from Mr Reynolds to Mr Connolly, although there was a conversation between the two men which was amicable.

Mr Shatter said in his statement: "I hope that Paul will accept my apology and that we can both move on."

Last night's statement came after Fianna Fail justice spokesman Dara Calleary called on Mr Shatter to "immediately withdraw the remarks and apologise". If he has issues, then he should deal with Mr Reynolds directly, the Mayo TD added.

Seamus Dooley, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), also called for Mr Shatter to publicly withdraw the comments, as did the RTE branch of the NUJ.

"It is unacceptable for the Justice Minister to launch an attack on the professional integrity or ability of an individual worker," Mr Dooley said.

Irish Independent

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