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Saturday 25 November 2017

A Justice Minister with aspirations to be a racy novelist

Alan Shatter steps down following Guerin report

Justice Minister Alan Shatter and (inset) his book 'Laura'
Justice Minister Alan Shatter and (inset) his book 'Laura'
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

In a shocking revelation today, Fine Gael politician Alan Shatter has announced his resignation as Justice Minister, a position he has held since March 2011.

The resignation follows the Guerin report into allegations made by Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

In what could have been a foresight into today's decision, Alan Shatter’s last words as Justice Minister were: 'Integration is the only way forward for changing society'.


Born 14 February 1951 to a Jewish family, Shatter grew up in Rathgar and Rathfarnham and has lived most of his life in Dublin with his wife, Carol Ann and his two children.

With interests in fifteen properties, Shatter owns several properties in the United States and has the largest property portfolio of any member of Ireland's cabinet minister.

Last year, the politician made the decision to publish raunchy novel ‘Laura’, a book he wrote almost a quarter of a century before and which sold 20,000 copies at the time.

However, figures from Nielsens Book Scan showed the literary offering made a poor second release, shifting only 1,600 copies over the space of a month.

But it is his political life that has been marred by trials and tribulations – especially in recent months – that has earned him an exceptional amount of media coverage.

Early days

Justice Minister: Who will sit on the throne next?

Alan Shatter has resigned as Justice Minister

March 2011: Shatter was appointed Minister for Justice and Equality and also Minister for Defence in Enda Kenny's cabinet.

Dealing with the scandals of child abuse involving the Catholic church was one of Alan Shatter first tasks as new Minister of Justice in 2011 with the release of the Cloyne report.

May 2011:  Shatter supports and later retracts RTÉ "Mission to Prey" Prime Time programme that defamed a priest.

June 2011: Shatter apologises for "unfair and inaccurate" comments he made about RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds after saying he "consistently engages in tabloid sensationalism". 

June 2011: First Citizenship ceremony introduced by Shatter where new citizens swear an oath to the state and obtain their certificate of citizenship was held in the Dublin Castle.

March 2012: Shatter apologises after a convicted Garda killer escaped from low security open detention centre Loughan House in County Cavan, and fled across the border into Northern Ireland.

May 2013: Shatter criticised whistleblowers alleging widespread corruption in the Garda Síochána regarding the cancellation of penalty points. An investigation by the Garda Síochána into its own affairs proved that the allegations of corruption where correct.

Recent trials

In February of this year, it was revealed that the offices of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) had been bugged with a variety of highly sophisticated bugging equipment.

There was widespread speculation that the Garda, or some rogue members or former members were responsible for the bugging to forestall investigations.

The fallout from this shocking scandal had a serious impact on the outcome of many civil and criminal cases – including the Sophie du Plantier case – which needed to be reviewed in light of the tapes.

Having responsibility for both the Garda and GSOC, subsequent statements made by Shatter questioned the conclusion that GSOC offices were bugged and were laced with criticism that he was not informed of the bugging.

This week, Shatter faced fresh calls for his resignation after it was found that he broke the law by leaking sensitive data about Independent TD Mick Wallace.

Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes concluded that Shatter's actions on RTE's 'Primetime' during which he revealed that Mr Wallace had been cautioned by gardai for driving while using a mobile phone were in breach of data laws.

In May, Garda sergeant Maurice McCabe prepared a detailed file for senior counsel Sean Guerin to carry out an independent review of his claims of garda misconduct.

It is this investigation and Guerin report into Mc Cabe’s findings that has reportedly led to Shatter’s resignation.

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