Justice Minister Alan Shatter is to be told next month whether he broke data protection laws when he revealed on live television that gardai had stopped and cautioned Mick Wallace TD on his mobile telephone while driving.
The Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes, has told the Sunday Independent he will issue a judgement in the next four weeks as to whether Mr Shatter's disclosure of Garda data involved a breach of the legislation.
"We have received a complaint and in accordance with the obligations of the Data Protection Act we have been trying to achieve an amicable resolution of the complaint. If such an amicable resolution is not possible then I am obliged, under the Data Protection Act, to make a decision as to whether or not the Minister for Justice has broken the law," he said.
If found guilty of an offence under data protection law, Mr Shatter could face a €3,000 fine on summary conviction or €100,000 on conviction on indictment. Mr Wallace was unavailable yesterday, but he has described Mr Shatter's disclosure as "bizarre, politically motivated and a personal attack" which, he said, was a serious abuse of the minister's power and privilege.
The Justice Minister made the controversial disclosure last May when he and Mr Wallace appeared on RTE's Prime Time. Mr Shatter subsequently told the Dail that the now former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, told him about the incident which occurred in Dublin in May 2012. At the time, Mr Hawkes said it was "incumbent upon all persons in the public, whether they are ministers or public servants, to be careful about personal data that they hold, and not to disclose it other than with the consent of the person."