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Minister calls Shatter controversy trivial and superficial

“We have more important things to talk about in this country,” Pat Rabbitte told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.

Image: RTÉ Screengrab

TWO SENIOR CABINET members have moved to put the Alan Shatter controversy to one side today, stating he has the full backing of both parties in the coalition.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the Justice Minister is doing a “very good job” and that he has the support of the Labour party and Fine Gael.

Speaking on The Week in Politics, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte insisted the government had more important things to talk about and that too much time had been spent on the matter, describing it as a bottle of smoke.

The scandal, which kicked off when Shatter revealed information about deputy Mick Wallace on live television, focuses on a trivial and superficial incident, according to the Minister.

However, he did concede that it was not appropriate for the remarks about Wallace benefitting from garda discretion when he was caught with his mobile phone when driving to have been made in public.

“No I don’t think it was but the incident itself couldn’t have been more trivial and the minister has apologised for his lapse…What else can be said about it?”

He described Shatter as a “particularly effective, reforming hard-working Minister” and later as a “competent, resourceful workaholic”.

Tax Haven?

Rabbitte also defended Ireland’s tax systems following the US Senate accusations that Ireland is a “tax haven” for companies such as Apple. The Labour politician reiterated the government’s line that there are no deals made with individual companies.

It is not the fault of the tax authorities of Ireland if multinationals engage in financial engineering to avoid (and not evade) tax in their own countries, he said.

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“The effective rate [12.5 per cent] is what it says on the tin.”

Other issues

Asked about a column Labour TD Colm Keaveney wrote for this site criticising proposed abortion legislation yesterday, Rabbitte noted that the Galway deputy is the chairman of a party which has a mandate to legislate for the X Case.

On the Haddington Road Agreement, Rabbitte said there was never any question of the government not standing firm as it seeks savings of €300 million.

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