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Shatter slams PAC members over comments

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 Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Photo: Tom Burke

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Photo: Tom Burke

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Photo: Tom Burke

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has criticised three members of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which he has claimed have made "inappropriate" comments on the penalty points controversy.

As the committee meets in private today to consider if a planned appearance by one of the Garda whistleblowers should appear before it this week, Minister Shatter took to the airwaves and claimed PAC Chairman John McGuinness TD and Independent Deputy Shane Ross made "inappropriate" remarks.

He also claimed that Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald is another member "who indicates they're not objective in addressing these issues".

The Minister's attack on the deputies comes after he referred the allegations of corruption against gardai to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission to investigate the claims.

 

CRITICISM

Making the announcement, he criticised PAC members saying that recent remarks made by members risked bringing the committee's work into "disrepute".

Responding to Mr Shatter's claims Deputy McGuinness told the Herald: "I don't consider that any inappropriate comments were made. The committee members were doing their investigation in line with the Controller and Auditor General's report and that's it really."

He said the PAC is meeting today at 4:30pm and that it would be getting legal advice on the potential appearance of one of the whistleblowers at the committee on Thursday.

He said he didn't want to "preempt" the legal advice the committee is to receive when asked if he thought the PAC would be able to continue its investigation into the penalty points issue.

Mr Shatter's claim that Shane Ross was "confusing" his role between being a politician and a journalist was rejected by Deputy Ross, who responded to the claim this morning saying: "I often write about matters in which I'm involved and I think that the people that read it expect me to do that."

Mary Lou McDonald also responded by telling Newstalk: "I'm at a loss as to these remarks that I personally have made that he (Mr Shatter) feels aren't objective."

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan appeared at the committee last week.

He described the leaking of details of individual cases where penalty points were cancelled as "disgusting".

The Commissioner had indicated that he would seek legal advice on the issue of the potential appearance before the PAC this week of a serving officer – Maurice McCabe.

 

ABUSE

Mr Shatter told RTE Radio this morning that he hadn't referred the matter to the Ombudsman over the last 18 months as that would have been "an abuse of the legislation".

He said that circumstances had now changed because "we now have the gardai engaged in political controversy".

Mr Shatter said that "serious allegations" had been made against unnamed gardai who are unable to "defend their reputations".

hews@herald.ie


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