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Rabbitte slams phone-tap claim as rubbish

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Row: Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Tom Burke

Row: Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Tom Burke

Row: Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Tom Burke

A CABINET Minister has rubbished suggestions that Attorney General Maire Whelan believes her phone was bugged.

Labour's Pat Rabbitte yesterday described the claim was part of a series of "conspiracy theories gone mad".

Mr Rabbitte spoke out after Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ms Whelan had told him she did not want to discuss the widespread taping in garda stations over the phone.

The claim led to speculation that Ms Whelan believed her calls were being listened to.

However, Mr Rabbitte rejected the suggestion, saying there was nothing untoward about wishing to speak about such a grave matter in person.

"That's just another canard being put out there," he said. "What the Attorney said is that she didn't want to speak about the matter on the phone to the Taoiseach. These are conspiracy theories gone mad."

Mr Rabbitte's comments came as Alan Shatter prepared to endure his third motion of no-confidence since he was appointed Justice Minister.

Fianna Fail has confirmed it will table the motion tomorrow in a move that will put major pressure on uneasy Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers.

A number of these TDs have confirmed to the Herald that their support for Mr Shatter is waning because of his handling of the taping crisis and the retirement of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

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However, a senior party source last night said it was "highly unlikely" any TD would vote in favour of the motion.

Mr Rabbitte was critical of Mr Shatter's handling of the controversies, but said he believed his version of events. "I do believe him," he said. "I believe a lot of people don't like his style. I think a lot of people don't like some of the things he's doing, but I think his record shows he's been a reforming minister.

"He's a minister of very strong convictions and views and, certainly, he allowed the controversy to drag on for too long."

In relation to the vote, Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley said some backbenchers could indeed jump ship.

"If the backbenchers in the Government parties effectively follow through what they're saying in private, he (Shatter) won't be safe," he said.

NOCONNOR@HERALD.IE


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