Sunday 18 March 2018

Shatter 'portrayed as enemy number one' in bitter standoff with opposition

Fianna Fail Justice spokesperson Niall Collins
Fianna Fail Justice spokesperson Niall Collins

Niall O'Connor and Daniel McConnell

ALAN Shatter has claimed that he has been portrayed as "enemy number one" as he endured his second vote of no- confidence since being appointed Justice Minister.

As the controversy surrounding the garda tapes refuses to abate, Mr Shatter admitted he has made mistakes, claiming: "I don't have a monopoly on wisdom."

But he insisted he has been subjected to "taunts and vilification" by the opposition, who he accused of political opportunism by tabling the motion of no confidence.

In a speech that was predominantly off-script, Mr Shatter hit out at Fianna Fail's sustained focus on the length of time it took before a critical letter by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was handed over to him by Department of Justice of Officials.

He said that his department's Secretary General, Brian Purcell, had acknowledged that it should have been forwarded to him sooner.

"It (the delay) shouldn't have occurred, he would be the first to acknowledge it."

In relation to the garda tapes scandal, Mr Shatter admitted the existence of the recordings have "the potential of being a very serious invasion of citizens' rights of privacy".

Mr Shatter was passionate in his defence of his record as a "reforming minister" and claimed that he has been unfairly subjected to personal attacks.

"You would think listening to members of the opposition that I am enemy number one," he said.

During a tense and bitter debate in the Dail, the opposition also targeted government backbenchers over their sustained support for Mr Shatter.

Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary told backbenchers that their "personal and political reputations" will be on the line if they back their under-pressure minister.

At one stage Fianna Fail TD Willie O'Dea likened the defence of Mr Shatter to that of the South African athlete Oscar Pistorious. His colleague, the party's Justice spokesperson Niall Collins, said he does not believe the minister's version of events given in recent days.

Irish Independent

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