News Analysis

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Was Shatter's case not in the public interest too?

Published 24/05/2013 | 05:00

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ALAN Shatter was adamant all week he didn't regret dragging up the Mick Wallace driving while on the mobile phone allegation.

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"No, I am going to tell the truth about issues in the public interest and I think it is important the general public are in a position to judge the credibility of individuals. There is no question of me using private information. This wasn't private information."

By that rationale, Mattie McGrath's assertions about Mr Shatter's own interactions at a Garda checkpoint in recent years was also in the public interest.

The minister was forced to admit yesterday he was unable to complete the breath test because he was asthmatic and told the gardai present he was coming from the Dail and had not been drinking.

He benefited from the discretion of gardai who let him continue on his way, rather than forcing him to give a sample.

The inclusion of the explanation he was "on way home from Dail Eireann" as a factor in the incident is intriguing.

When taking a pop at Luke 'Ming' Flanagan's woes last week, Mr Shatter was happy to point out that TDs are not exempt from liability for road traffic offences on their way to or from Dail Eireann.

"Article 15.13 of the Constitution provides that 'The members of each House of the Oireachtas shall, except in case of treason as defined in this Constitution, felony or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest in going to and returning from, and while within the precincts of, either House ... '

"Article 15.13 clearly, therefore, does not provide immunity from liability for offences, but only immunity from arrest in respect of certain offences.

"Where a member of either House has simply been issued with a fixed charge notice, for example for a speeding offence detected by a speed camera, Article 15.13 provides no basis for the cancellation of that notice, even if the offence allegedly occurred when the member was travelling to or from Leinster House," the minister said.

Yet in his statement yesterday he himself cited telling gardai he was "on my way home from Dail Eireann" and that he had consumed no alcohol of any nature that day.

"The garda consulted with another garda and I was waved on," he says of the incident on Pembroke Street in Dublin city centre, near Leinster House, a few years back.

WHAT relevance did it have, then, to gardai whether he was coming from Leinster House or any other house in the area?

Why did he decide to make this point to the gardai concerned?

He referred to a bus lane incident with a motorcycle garda in the Dail during the week, yet made no mention of his breathalyser moment.

Mr Shatter accused Mick Wallace of suffering from the infamous political ailment of "mature recollection" earlier this week.

Apart from the asthma, the minister would also appear to be beset by this affliction.

Irish Independent

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