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7 key points from Alan Shatter’s speech to the Dáil today

The Justice Minister came out swinging today. Here’s what he said.
Mar 26th 2014, 11:35 AM 17,252 137

THE JUSTICE MINISTER fought back today, telling the Dáil that he did not know about the recording of phone calls at Garda stations prior to yesterday.

He added that there could be no suggestion that he or the government had acted wrongly, saying that he was “seeking a full report from the acting Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan, on the latest available information on these recordings”.

Here’s the main points of what he said.

1. He didn’t see the letter sent to him on 10 March until 12.40pm yesterday

I was not briefed on this matter until approximately 6pm on Monday, 24 March in the Department of Justice and, as previously stated, was first furnished with the letter from the Garda Commissioner of 10 March 2014 yesterday at approximately 12.40pm. Following the initial briefing by my Departmental officials, I met together with both the Taoiseach and the Attorney General on Monday evening to discuss these matters.

2. But his Department was copied in on correspondence a week ago

[U]nderstand that the matters covered in the letter of 10 March were being considered by my Department in the context of the ongoing legal consultation in relation to the specific case in question and I am informed that, subsequently, on 19 and 20 March, Garda Headquarters copied my Department with correspondence between the Garda Síochána and both the office of the Attorney General and the office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

3. The Attorney General knew about the tapes in November

But she didn’t know about the making of tapes.

Whilst the Attorney General, in the context of the civil proceedings previously mentioned, was made aware of the existence of tapes, and the possible existence of other tapes, I am advised that she had no knowledge at that time of the circumstances surrounding the making of tapes, the legal background to their being made, the contents of such tapes, or the number of such tapes.

4. Last year’s GSOC report was not sent to his department

This was not a report to me or my Department but a press release by GSOC and there was no indication or suggestion of any nationwide system of recording in Garda Stations. I am aware of various commentators referencing this short GSOC report in broadcast and print media since the Governments statement was published yesterday afternoon on this issue and questioning the truthfulness of the account given to date of these matters.

“The simple truth is GSOC did not furnish the report mentioned to me and I am advised that they did not furnish it to my Departmental officials nor bring it to the Departments attention.”

5. He didn’t know anything about recording until yesterday

I know that there are reports that I knew of the system of recording in Garda stations last year, but this is not the case.

6. The previous government should take some blame

This issue, like others, is one that existed throughout the lifetime of the previous government and, indeed, we now know the recording system was upgraded during that government’s term of office in 2008.

7. But the current government isn’t guilty of inaction

I don’t think that any reasonable person could claim with any credibility that there has been any inaction on my part or the part of the Government to what has undoubtedly been a series of disturbing issues. Rather, we have been unflinching in our determination to face up to past difficulties.

Here’s Shatter’s statement in full.

With reporting from Hugh O’Connell.

LIVEBLOG: Minister says recorded calls were ‘unacceptable and probably illegal’

Catch up: Everything you need to know about GardaGate in one place >

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Paul Hosford


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