Monday 18 December 2017

Shatter hits out at Independents over bill on garda reform

TDs complain of harassment suffered by others

TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace hold a press briefing on the Garda amendment bill
TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace hold a press briefing on the Garda amendment bill

Michael Brennan and Fiach Kelly

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has hit out at Independent TDs such as Mick Wallace and Luke 'Ming' Flanagan for criticising An Garda Siochana.

His comments came after the TDs launched a bill aimed at making gardai more transparent and more accountable to the public.

In the Dail, Mr Shatter said that they had "genuflected briefly" in the area of praising gardai and then spent most of the evening criticising them.

"There are brave men and women in our garda force. I think it's right that we acknowledge the duty that they do to protect communities across the country," he said.

In the Dail debate on the bill, Mr Wallace complained about a lack of oversight of the actions of gardai. Mr Flanagan complained about named people being subjected to harassment by the gardai, having their phones seized and having their requests for medical treatment ignored.

However, he said he had previously made a "badly timed" comment about garda corruption on TV3's Vincent Browne show. He said that he believed that the majority of gardai were hardworking and straight people.

Mr Shatter said he did not believe the bill would achieve its stated aim of improving the democratic accountability of gardai and therefore he could not accept it.

The Garda Siochana Amendment Bill is also being supported by Independent TDs Clare Daly and Joan Collins. It contains a section to limit the ability of the Garda Commissioner to pass on information to Mr Shatter.

It comes after Mr Wallace got an apology from Mr Shatter after he leaked information from the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan about the fact that he (Mr Wallace) had been let off for using his mobile phone while driving.

The bill also has the aim of removing the garda force from "direct ministerial control and influence", in a dig at Mr Shatter.

Mr Wallace insisted that the public still trusted him as a politician after the revelation of his construction company's €2.1m tax settlement with the Revenue.

"The majority of people that I meet trust me. I ran a business in a very honest fashion all my life," he said.

Mr Wallace also said that he was giving half of his €87,000 Dail salary to the Revenue after tax as a gesture towards repaying the tax settlement. But he admitted to Newstalk 106 that the debt would never be fully repaid.

Irish Independent

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