Editorial: Public will decide on Shatter controversy
The former Justice Minister Alan Shatter thinks he is a wronged man and used more than 3,877 words in the Dail yesterday to explain why he believes so. Mr Shatter's main complaint appears to be that Sean Guerin SC spent 19 hours interviewing the garda 'whistleblower' Sergeant Maurice McCabe but declined to interview Mr Shatter for the government-commissioned report 'A Review of the Action Taken by An Garda Siochana Pertaining to Certain Allegations Made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe'.
While Mr Shatter concedes that it was "right" for Mr Guerin to talk with Sgt McCabe for as long as he deemed necessary, he disagrees with the barrister's decision not to interview others "whose good name, reputation and credibility could or would be affected by his report". And, of course, Mr Shatter believes he fits into this category and he should now be given a full explanation as to why he was not interviewed. Mr Shatter is firmly of the belief that as Minister for Justice he gave "substantial attention" to allegations made by Sgt McCabe.
Mr Shatter resigned on publication of the Guerin Report. "The result, in my case, of Mr Guerin's report, was to render my continuing as minister untenable and, as a consequence, I resigned my position. That is done. However, the process involved and the failure to adhere to fair procedures has serious and wider implications," he says.
However, Mr Shatter fails to take into account the political implication of his position. The public did not believe that either he or the Garda Commissioner had paid sufficient attention to Sgt McCabe's complaints and in particular he had backed the Garda Commissioner who used the word "disgusting" at the Public Accounts Committee to describe the leaking of confidential garda information. For a seasoned operator, Mr Shatter does not appear to have considered the litany of investigations and so-called 'revelations' which were clearly damaging to the Government, even if some of them, like the GSOC bugging affair, turned out to be a bottle of smoke.
Mr Shatter, a lawyer himself, is aggrieved that people could be "secretly put on trial, have charges levied against us of which we have no knowledge, be prosecuted without being informed of the evidence, and convicted without being given an opportunity to speak or defend ourselves". Now he has said his piece and made his protest. The public will make up their own mind.