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'I was constantly being vilified': Alan Shatter speaks of 'years of upset and difficulty' since resignation

The former justice minister resigned over a garda whistleblower controversy in 2014.

Alan Shatter (file photo)
Alan Shatter (file photo)

FORMER JUSTICE MINISTER Alan Shatter has spoken of the “substantial upset and difficulty” he has experienced in the five years since he resigned from Cabinet.

Shatter told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme how his appearances at two commissions of investigation and his ongoing court cases involving a senior barrister caused him to have sleepless nights.

Shatter resigned in the wake of the findings of the Guerin report, which saw senior counsel Sean Guerin investigate how the former minister handled complaints made by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

He maintained that he had not acted wrongly in dealing with McCabe and was later cleared of wrongdoing by the O’Higgins Commission in 2016.

He won an appeal to challenge the Guerin report in November 2016 and the Court of Appeal found in his favour last year, before the Supreme Court upheld that decision earlier this year following an appeal by Guerin.

Shatter also appeared at the Fennelly Commission following his resignation, when the recording of emergency calls at garda stations was examined, an issue which contributed to both the retirement of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Shatter’s own resignation.

This morning, he told Sean O’Rourke how he has constantly been “the butt of criticism” and in a position where people are accusing him of lying about important events in the years since he stepped down from Cabinet.

“I was being constantly vilified in the media whenever issues relating to Maurice McCabe came up,” he said.

The former minister spoke about how he began to doubt whether anyone would believe him, and of the difficulty of having to answer questions in front of the two commissions.

He said:

I would have had many sleepless nights and a great deal of stress.

Anyone who tells you, even when you know you’re telling the truth, [that] giving evidence to a commission of investigation is an easy thing is talking nonsense.

So it was for both myself and my family and my wife an extraordinarily stressful and difficult period.

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Shatter also said he endured “five years of some substantial upset and difficulty” as a result of the court cases and giving evidence to both commissions of investigation, adding that he began to lose sleep as a result of stress arising from them.

“It doesn’t matter how resilient you are or how thick-skinned you are in politics,” he added.

“Engaging in court proceedings and being before commissions of investigation, all of this creates a great deal of upset and pressure.”

It follows the first comments made by Shatter this week about the lead up to his resignation from government.

His account of the turbulent period in Irish political life is detailed in his new book, Frenzy and Betrayal – The Anatomy of Political Assassination, which describes the events that followed Callinan’s retirement and Leo Varadkar’s role in the controversy. 

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