Shatter breath-test row garda seeks legal advice
THE garda at the centre of the Alan Shatter breath-test controversy is to meet her lawyers about giving a statement to gardai outlining her version of events.
The Irish Independent has learned that the officer may make a request to be interviewed by her superintendent where she will detail how she filed a report on the incident five years ago.
A senior source has said that following the Justice Minister's assertions that no report existed into how he failed to give a breath test on Dublin's Pembroke Street, the garda is determined "to get the true version of events on the record".
Contrary to Mr Shatter's statement to the Dail last week, a source with knowledge of the matter has insisted that he did not mention having asthma when he failed to give a breath sample.
The source said the garda wants her reputation restored after a week in which her "professionalism was effectively called into question".
One of the options being considered is that the garda would voluntarily present herself to her district officer – her superintendent – in Pearse Street garda station for interview.
The garda is believed to have consulted several retired senior officers in recent days, and will this week meet lawyers to determine how best to proceed.
Sources have indicated that the officer feels her "exemplary record and reputation have been dragged through the mud", despite following all the correct protocols.
The Irish Independent revealed last week that Mr Shatter twice failed to provide a breath sample to the garda and left the scene.
Sources vigorously insist he failed to mention that asthma was the reason for his failure to provide a sample, and that he did not behave in a manner befitting a member of the Oireachtas.
The garda spent the weekend exploring her options with advisers, and wants a record of her version of events to be taken by a senior officer, subject to legal advice.
A senior source said the garda feels "she has no option but to vindicate her excellent reputation".
"Last week was very damaging and was a situation entirely not of her making," the source said.
A retired former senior garda last night said the officer would be "well within her rights to have her version of events taken by her district officer, a superintendent at Pearse Street, and that she would have every right to insist on such protocols".
He added: "The more I read about this, the more I cannot believe that a report wasn't filed – it would have been her statutory obligation."
According to the officer, on the night in question, sometime in 2008 or 2009, she requested a breath sample from the Dublin South TD at a Mandatory Alcohol Checkpoint (MATCH) in Pembroke Street.
There was nothing to indicate that he had been drinking.
As she was explaining to Mr Shatter his rights, he said to her: "Don't you know who I am, you cannot stop me."
The garda responded that she did not know who he was, to which he responded, "I am Alan Shatter", and that he was coming from the Dail.
She then told Mr Shatter he was being breathalysed as part of a mandatory checkpoint.
Mr Shatter made two attempts to complete the breath test, which gardai on the scene did not deem to be genuine. When he was told he had not carried out the procedure properly, he said: "Check your law book, it's in the Constitution, you cannot stop me, I am going."
At this point he moved his car, and drove away with an abruptness that forced the garda to step back.
A report on the matter was filed the following day, but has since gone missing.
Last week in the Dail during a motion of no-confidence in the minister, Mr Shatter insisted that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had told him he had been unable to locate any report. He also said the commissioner told him "no report" was generated by the garda involved.
Giving his version of what happened on the night he was stopped, Mr Shatter said he had been in a queue of cars and had his tax and insurance checked.
He said he had committed no offence at the garda checkpoint.
"I co-operated with a request to exhale into a breathalyser, attempted to do so but did not exhale sufficiently due to my suffering from asthma," he said.
"I informed the garda that I was on my way home from the Dail where I had been working, had consumed no alcohol and that I suffered from asthma. I was subsequently waved on."
The Government easily won the no-confidence motion by 88 votes to 45.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also given his backing to Mr Shatter, saying that there had been official confirmation from the garda commissioner that there was no report into the incident.
"I believe this and I accept it," he told the Dail last week.