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Shatter: ‘Do I think it was a mistake to mention the incident surrounding Deputy Wallace? ...Of course I do’

Alan Shatter admits to an error of judgement, but defends his record, as the Dáil begins debating a motion of no confidence.

JUSTICE MINISTER Alan Shatter has admitted it was a mistake to mention Mick Wallace’s encounter with Gardaí for using a mobile phone while driving – but launched a vigorous defence of his record in office.

Speaking as the Dáil begins two evenings of debate on a motion of no confidence in his position, Shatter spent considerable time outlining his achievements in office – pausing only briefly to mention the recent furore over Mick Wallace and Shatter’s own encounter with Gardaí.

“Do I think it was a mistake to mention the incident surrounding Deputy Wallace?” Shatter asked himself, before answering: “Of course I do.”

Continuing by asking whether he would act similarly again, he affirmed: “No, I wouldn’t.”

Shatter commented that the focus on his own encounter with Gardaí, at a mandatory checkpoint in 2009, was “extraordinary” – and criticised those who had not focussed on how someone who could not complete a breathalyser test, as he could not because of asthma, had not committed any offence.

I can be accused of being a workaholic, nobody can ever accuse me of abusing alcohol or driving over the permitted limit.

Shatter opened his speech by saying the government had stabilised the banking system and property markets, ensured industrial peace, introduced new mechanisms to help those in chronic debt, and had brought Ireland close to financial independence

“It’s a privilege to be a member of a government that has achieved so much,” he said, commenting that the only real value to Fianna Fáil’s motion of no confidence was that it gave him an opportunity to outline his progress in his brief to date.

Addressing Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins, who tabled the motion, Shatter said:

Deputy Collins should consider where the Garda force should be today, with an annual budget of €90 million less in the Garda budget, which is where we would have been under Fianna Fáil’s 2010 plan.

Among the achievement Shatter mentioned during his time was the holding of the first ever pay talks with representatives from the Gardaí, the prison service and the Defence Forces, as part of the talks on the Haddington Road pay agreement.

“Being in office just for its own sake holds no particular value for me. What I value… is the opportunity to implement reforms, many of which are long overdue,” he said.

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“I want to say this: I have a serious job to do, in each of the briefs that I am very privileged to be exercising. It is a great privilege and something I do not take for granted.”

Collins had opened the debate by saying Shatter had the “most toxic” relationship with Gardaí of any justice minister, saying the motion was the culmination of a series of actions on Shatter’s part.

They included allowing banks to have a veto on the insolvency regime, a total breakdown of relationships between the government and the judiciary, falling Garda morale, and reducing the numbers of Gardaí.

Read: Kenny: ‘The difference is Wallace broke the law, and Shatter didn’t’

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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