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Shatter says sorry to Wallace as TDs call for him to quit

ALAN Shatter has apologised for using confidential Garda information against political opponent Mick Wallace.

The Justice Minister came under strong attack in the Dail last night for disclosing that Deputy Wallace escaped penalty points after being caught driving while on a mobile.

And the Fine Gael politician admitted that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan gave him the information, but said the commissioner had a "duty to mention it to me".

Minister Shatter faced strong calls from Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein to resign, but reiterated that his actions were in the "public interest".

He said however that he was willing to "say sorry" to Deputy Wallace if he felt aggrieved.

"I believe that I acted in the public interest and my doing should have none of the connotations that some have ascribed to it.

"However none of us has a monopoly of wisdom.

PERSONAL

"If Deputy Wallace feels that I did him some personal wrong by mentioning it, then I have no problem in saying I am sorry."

The Minister denied that he has received personal information about other politicians

"I want to give a solemn assurance to the House that I am not in the business of receiving, seeking or maintaining confidential, sensitive information from An Garda Siochana about Members of this House, the Seanad or, indeed, anyone in political life. Nor are the Gardai in the business of providing it."

Deputy Wallace said he was the victim of a "politically motivated and personal attack".

He accused the Minister of stooping to a most "unparliamentary level" and rejected his claim his actions were in the public interest.

"Are you serious?" Mr Wallace fumed. "Do you think the public think so?"

Fianna Fail Justice spokesperson Niall Collins said that the Minister "clearly crossed the line".

The row between the two politicians erupted after last Thursday's Prime Time, when the Minister said Mr Wallace was let off with a warning when he was found to be using his mobile phone while driving last May.

DEBATE

Meanwhile, Deputy Wallace has published the letter he sent yesterday to the Standards in Public Office Commission.

"It would appear that, in preparation for the Prime Time debate, the Minister made efforts to seek out any information that he felt would undermine my criticism of the manner in which he chose to investigate the issues raised in the whistleblowers' dossier," the complaint states.

noconnor @herald.ie


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