Thursday 22 February 2018

Alan Shatter reveals he hasn't spoken to Enda Kenny in a 'long time' as he calls Attorney General's role untenable

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former Justice Minister Alan Shatter Photo: :Mark Condren
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former Justice Minister Alan Shatter Photo: :Mark Condren

Kathy Armstrong

Taoiseach Enda Kenny hasn't spoken to Alan Shatter "in a very long time", the former Justice Minister has revealed.

Mr Shatter also said that Attorney General Máire Whelan's position is "untenable", as he claims she "substantially overreacted and showed very poor judgement" in the events leading up to Fennelly Commission.

Mr Shatter welcomed the publication of the final Fennelly Commission report on Thursday, which found the recording of phone calls in Garda stations did not impact on any criminal cases and that Garda bosses knew little or nothing about the technology.

The scandal caused former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to step down, followed months later by then-Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Speaking about whether he can expect his old-ally Kenny to apologise over the scandal, he said: "I haven't had a conversation with the Taoiseach for a very long time and I'm not aware of him having any intention to apologise for the matters in respect to which wrong accusations were made against me."

Read More: Secret Garda phone recordings 'violated citizens' human rights'

Attorney General Maire Whelan Picture: Arthur Carron
Attorney General Maire Whelan Picture: Arthur Carron

He also spoke about having his name cleared in the report.

Speaking to Paul Williams on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Shatter said: "I think what's significant is where we are today, the Attorney General as she gave evidence to the Fennelly Commission stated it was her view was that all of this involved widespread criminality, the jails were going to be opened, prosecutions would collapse and possible miscarriages of justice had occurred, but of course none of that came to pass."

"I think much of this, in the context of me personally, came down to an interim report that was published a long time ago.

"It confirmed that I knew nothing about the recording issues and I told the truth when I gave evidence to the Fennelly Commission and when I informed the Dáil what i knew about these things."

He continued to say: "At the time as Minister I was accused of snooping of large sections of the nation and trying to cover up Garda criminality and indeed I was accused of pretending not to know about the recording issue.

"I'm happy that all of that has been put to bed. I think it's more serious than that because some of that comes down to the door of the Attorney General."

Read More: Commission found dark questions that judge was unable to answer

He said that he feels Ms Whelan's role is no longer sustainable and accused her of having "very poor judgement" by not consulting with himself when he was Justice Minister over the issue of Gardai recording phone calls.

The Fennelly Commission said there had not been a widespread abuse of the system over the secret recording of telephone conversations at Garda stations
The Fennelly Commission said there had not been a widespread abuse of the system over the secret recording of telephone conversations at Garda stations

He said: "The Attorney substantially overreacted and showed very poor judgement, the Taoiseach generated a sense of alarm, I sought to bring some sense of proportion to matters but I was ignored...

"It's absolutely clear in the reports that the Attorney General was adequately briefed months earlier in November 2013 about concerns relating to concerns about calls being recorded at garda stations.

"She failed to inform as Minister of Justice at the time and she failed to inform the Taoiseach.

"At no stage was this matter adequately dealt with by her at that time to ensure she had the maximum information available to her possible before giving any advice...

Read More: Garda bosses' ignorance of secret tapes is 'surprising'

"I believe that in any other European democracy the Attorney General's position would have been untenable after the publication of the Interim report, I say that with a  great deal of regret and disappointment as she's an individual I had a great deal of regard for, a liking for and had worked closely with.

"I found her conduct around this issue astonishing, I think it's very serious and resulted in consequences that never should have occurred.

"Following the publication of this report yesterday by Mr Justice Fennelly, I think her position remains as untenable today, if not more at time that the interim report was published."

Online Editors

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