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Lise Hand: 'Arrogant Alan' can only blame himself

It was Leaders' Questions, and the Taoiseach was just winding down after a lengthy citation of his Justice Minister's achievements, when an outraged yelp escaped from the opposition benches.

"He wouldn't even say hello to anyone," spluttered an indignant Michael Healy-Rae. Even Alan Shatter's cabinet colleagues beside him on the front bench guffawed heartily at that observation. But not one of them refuted it.

If one word was flung into the face of Mr Shatter yesterday, it was "arrogance". It was suggested that 'Arrogant Alan' had been hoisted by his own petard for mouthing off on telly about confidential garda information he had on Mick Wallace, and compounded the trouble by his subsequent humility-free half-apology in the Dail chamber to the Independent TD.

And so the political moral of the tale was that Mr Shatter had nobody but himself to blame when he found himself at the sharp end of a confidence debate last night and was obliged to once again revisit the night when he was breathalysed at a routine garda checkpoint.

Fianna Fail's Niall Collins was the first to speak in last night's debate and kicked off by assuring Mr Shatter that his party's no-confidence motion "isn't a personal attack on you". And then he promptly got personal.

"In relation to the gardai, I think it's fair to say that you have the most toxic relationship with rank-and-file gardai ever experienced in the history of the State, and that is due, minister, in no small part to your arrogant mismanagement," he declared.

"The mask has completely slipped, and the arrogant, out-of-touch manner that we all suspected has now been fully revealed."

Across the chamber, Arrogant Alan sat quietly. The Coalition had circled the wagons around him, and lined up beside him were Michael Noonan, James Reilly, Pat Rabbitte, Frances Fitzgerald and Joan Burton.

Typically, Mr Shatter's explanation wasn't brief. He recited all his achievements since taking office, and he firmly stuck to his story.

He did express a scintilla of regret for revealing information about Mick Wallace to the nation. "Would I do it again? No, I wouldn't," he admitted.

And at the very end of his speech, he deviated from his script. "I again reiterate my apology to Deputy Wallace," he said.

"Despite the innuendos I again repeat – I committed no offence at the garda checkpoint which is the subject of so much attention. Having consumed no alcohol has it not struck anybody that if I could have fully exhaled into the breathalyser I would have done so," he insisted.

No fear there – Alan Shatter was all about the facts. Emotions are strictly for his fiction only.

Irish Independent