Wednesday 29 January 2020

Shatter: No garda report over breathalyser incident so it could not be missing

Justice Minister Alan Shatter speaking in the Dail
Justice Minister Alan Shatter speaking in the Dail
Justice Minister Alan Shatter

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has stuck to his claim there is no garda report into the incident when he was stopped at a drink-driving checkpoint - and says it therefore could not go missing.

However, Mr Shatter did not address whether he told a garda it was unconstitutional to stop him while he was coming from the Dail, and said: "Check your law book."

Neither did he address whether he told the garda: "Don't you know who I am?"

"I stopped at a Garda checkpoint, queued until reached, had my tax and insurance checked; cooperated with a request to exhale in to a breathalyser, attempted to do so but did not exhale sufficiently due to my suffering from asthma; informed the garda that I was on my way home from the Dail where I had been working all evening, had consumed no alcohol and that I suffered from asthma," Mr Shatter said during the no confidence debate in him in the Dail. "I was subsequently waved on.

"There is no allegation that I had consumed any alcohol of any nature whatsoever that day."

"The simple fact is, there was no wrongdoing on my part and the law was not broken."

He said he is not aware of "any precedent" of publishing garda reports, but said his department asked the Garda Siochana "if they had any report on the matter".

"My department has been advised by the Commissioner that the Garda Siochana have not been able to locate any such report and that no report was generated by the garda member involved which, given that there is no wrongdoing at issue, is hardly a surprise," Mr Shatter said.

"Consequently, no report of the Garda member could have disappeared as alleged."

He also said "with hindsight" it was a mistake to use the confidential information on Independent TD Mick Wallace passed to him by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

"Is it something for which I owe Deputy Wallace an apology? It is and I have already apologised. Would I do it again?  No."

He also said "any criticism should be directed at me" rather than Mr Callinan.

Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins said his party has no confidence in the minister because of his "disastrous policies, poor relations, hypocrisy and arrogant abuse of power".

He said Mr Shatter used the confidential information on Mr Wallace passed to him for "quick and cheap political advantage".

The Limerick TD said the incident led to a "further poisoning your relationship with the Garda Commissioner", adding: "That bridge is already one you burned."

He also said Mr Shatter has "the most toxic relationship with a rank and file gardai in the history of the State" of any minister for justice.

"There is a growing sense of arrogance minister, with you and your colleagues," Mr Collins added.


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