Sunday 23 October 2016

Shatter saves his skin – but he's not out of the woods yet

Published 27/03/2014 | 02:30

Now that we are back in the dark days of GUBU it seems appropriate to bring up 'mature recollection' as practised by Justice Minister Alan Shatter. While Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan appears to have been left with little choice but to fall on his sword ahead of Tuesday's Cabinet meeting on the issue of the word "disgusting", the minister saved his skin for now by acknowledging to the Dail yesterday that he was "incorrect" in saying the garda whistleblowers "did not co-operate with the garda investigation that took place".

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Mr Shatter's admission, probably the first to be extracted from him during his ministerial career, also managed to save the Government of which he is such a valued, if troublesome, member.

It satisfied his sternest critic, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who had described the whistleblowers as "distinguished", but more importantly it placated his ministerial colleagues in the Labour Party.

Mr Shatter's portion of humble pie also drew attention away from the Labour Party-appointed Maire Whelan, who appears to have known since last November about the second leg of this intrigue – the unauthorised taping of telephone conversations in certain garda stations for many years – yet neglected to bring it to the attention of the Government of which she is a member, until last Sunday night when she contacted the Taoiseach.

Indeed, the former Garda Commissioner had attempted to inform the Justice Minister of this problem on March 10, but the letter languished in the department until last Monday morning before it was handed to him.

All in all it seems the minister has poured some cold water on talk of a government crisis. But in the coming months he faces the Cooke Report, the Guerin Inquiry and now the Commission of Inquiry into the taping of conversations in garda stations. Unless, of course, a cabinet reshuffle intervenes.

Thrill-seekers would be disappointed with such an outcome.

Irish Independent

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