They were there to discuss a penalty points report by then Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney – which found there was no widespread quashing of penalty points.
In addition, the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had appeared at the Public Accounts Committee earlier that day.
During the Prime Time appearance, Mr Shatter accused Mr Wallace of having been stopped by the gardaí in May 2012 and that he had been on his phone while driving.
Mr Shatter claimed Mr Wallace had been advised by the guard who stopped him that a fixed ticket charge could be issued and that he could be given penalty points.
Mr Shatter also claimed Mr Wallace was warned not to do it again.
The claims on Prime Time were made almost a month after Gemma O’Doherty, in the Irish Independent, reported that, in July 2007, a car registered to the then Deputy Commissioner Martin Callinan – who was appointed to the position in January 2007 – was caught speeding on camera.
Ms O’Doherty reported the penalty points in relation to this incident were subsequently quashed.
After Prime Time, Mr Wallace told Pat Kenny that he was neither stopped nor warned.
“I was parked at the lights and a Garda vehicle came up beside me. And I was on the phone…which I know, I was wrong, I shouldn’t have been on it. The guard..I rolled down the window, the guard rolled down his window. There was two guards there. And I said ‘oh’, I just had my hand up and they said ‘it’s OK’. And, left it at that. And we just, we made small talk after for maybe about 15/20 seconds and the lights went green and I drove on straight and they pulled out. The guards were friendly.”
Following what happened on Prime Time, and a subsequent complaint made by Mr Wallace, the Data Protection Commissioner ruled the disclosure made by Mr Shatter breached his duties under the Data Protection Act.
The Circuit Civil Court upheld this decision when Mr Shatter made an initial appeal.
However, Mr Shatter appealed again to the High Court.
Further to this…
Former minister for justice Alan Shatter has won his challenge to a finding that his disclosure of information about Independent TD Mick Wallace on a live TV programme, was a breach of his duties under the data protection act.
…Mr Shatter claimed the then Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes failed to set out the basis for his conclusion the information was personal data and had prejudged that issue and acted in breach of fair procedures.
Mr Shatter’s lawyers said he never had, or saw, any written record of the information communicated to him during a conversation with then Garda Commissioner Martin Callanan.
He said the information was “in his mind” only and what he said did not amount to “processing” it.
Mr Shatter said that when he and he wife tried to “get away from all of this” for a holiday in France after his resignation he was “subjected to a tirade from an Irish guy” who had travelled on the same flight.”
I’m sure you have seen the story on RTÉ and elsewhere about Alan Shatter saying he was spat at in public and abused “in an airport in another country”.
I can’t be 100% certain but he might have been referring to myself who challenged him in Gatwick Airport over his handling of the Garda whistleblowers. If it is myself he is referring to then, in my honest opinion, he is engaging in spin.
I addressed him respectfully as Deputy Shatter and asked him why he hadn’t taken [Garda whistleblower] Maurice McCabe’s complaints seriously.
Rather than engage with me and explain that he had (as he is now claiming) his immediate response was to go on the attack by saying “Who the fuck are you?”.
I was taken aback by this and as we got on the escalator in Gatwick I turned around and replied “I’m just a voter who was wondering how the Minister for Justice got taken down by a hippy builder in a pink shirt” (referring to Mick Wallace being instrumental in his resignation)
At this point Shatter was seething, I had made my point and left. But in no way was the conversation one of abuse, I approached him politely and asked a question to which he replied with expletives.
If anything he was the one abusing me and it certainly wasn’t the type of language you would expect out of a man whose is supposed to represent the people.
Anyway that’s just my own experience of asking Alan Shatter a question. It does amaze me how he has spun the incident a full 180 degrees though and its taken as fact by RTÉ and other media organisations….
Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, right, and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
Further to the lunchtime publication of the O’Higgins report into allegations made by Sgt Maurice McCabe – which was prompted by the Guerin report.
Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter responds…
I want to thank Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins and his team for the manner in which the Commission’s investigation was conducted, their careful and thorough approach to establish the truth and to ensure the application of fair procedures.
I welcome that the O’Higgins Commission, having conducted an independent sworn statutory Commission of Investigation, has concluded that, when Minister for Justice, I took “very seriously” the complaints and allegations of 23rd January 2012, made by Sgt Maurice McCabe through the Confidential Recipient and that there were “compelling considerations” which justified my response to them. (These are detailed in Para 13.123 & 124 of the Commission’s Report).
Contrary to the Guerin Report’s assertion that I failed “to heed the voice” of Sgt McCabe, I also welcome that the O’Higgins Commission found that I had “very substantial concerns” about Sgt McCabes’ complaints and that at all times I dealt “professionally”, “promptly”, “reasonably” and “appropriately” with them.
Moreover, contrary to the Guerin Report, the O’Higgins Commission also found that I was “intimately” aware of the relevant applicable legislation, as were officials in the Department of Justice.
The O’Higgins Commission also rejects the contention of Sgt McCabe, given credence in the Guerin Report, that in my initially seeking a report from the Garda Commissioner on the serious allegations made by Sgt McCabe I was asking the Commissioner to “investigate himself”.
The Commission concludes that my doing so was “an obvious, prudent and sensible thing to do” and had I “acted otherwise” I would have been “open to justified criticism”.
I further welcome the conclusion that I “cannot be faulted” for “not taking further action” concerning a request for an inquiry, made in September 2012 by Sgt McCabe’s solicitors, “in circumstances where Sgt McCabe continued to assert a claim of confidentiality over relevant correspondence and enclosures”.
The Commission acknowledges this prevented the obtaining of “observations” from the then Garda Commissioner “as a preliminary step before deciding whether to establish such an inquiry”.
In fact, the Commission finds that my “personal input” in seeking to resolve this difficulty “displayed personal and active concern” on my part.
I am relieved that the truth has been established and that the O’Higgins Commission “unreservedly” accepted my evidence that I never held views, opinions or attitudes “wrongly attributed” to me by Mr Oliver Connolly, the former Confidential Recipient and recorded and transcribed by Sgt McCabe.
These got widespread currency and resulted in substantial controversy. The Report states that my evidence on this matter was “unchallenged and uncontradicted” in the hearing before the Commission. Both Sgt McCabe and Mr Connolly were present and legally represented at the relevant hearing.
One of the matters of major concern was the alleged Garda failings preceding the appalling murder of the late Sylvia Roche Kelly in 2007.
Charges made against me of ignoring the concerns of Sgt McCabe connected to this tragic event have now been independently established to be unfounded.
The O’Higgins Commission acknowledges that I was aware that a complaint had been made by Mr Lorcan Roche Kelly to GSOC which was engaged in an independent investigation into what occurred.
The Commission describes GSOC’s investigation as “thorough and necessarily lengthy” with certain aspects ongoing.
It is very regrettable that Mr Roche Kelly, prior to my appointment as Minister for Justice, as the Commission finds, was “not well served by the fact that a considerable period of time elapsed” in GSOC deciding whether it or An Garda Siochana on its behalf should conduct the required investigation and due to some confusion within GSOC as to the relevant statutory provisions.
In short, the findings of the O’Higgins Report, like the earlier Cooke and Fennelly Reports, have unequivocally established that, when Minister for Justice, I dealt properly and truthfully with Garda related matters that gave rise to substantial controversy in the Spring of 2014 and many false allegations by opposition politicians, including Micheal Martin, the Fianna Fail leader of the opposition.
The conclusions of the O’Higgins Commission totally contradict and are incompatible with the adverse findings made against me in the Guerin Report.
The O’Higgins Commission rightly praises Sgt McCabe for highlighting deficiencies in investigations, failures in procedures and practices, and poor conditions in Bailiboro Garda station.
It records that eleven, but not all of his complaints had previously been upheld by the internal Garda Byrne/McGinn Investigation concluded in 2010.
Some of the complexity of dealing with issues raised by Sgt McCabe is derived from the fact, as found by the O’Higgins Commission, that he is “prone to exaggeration at times”.
In this context, the Commission records that some of his complaints have been upheld by it whilst “others have proven to be overstated or exaggerated”.
Some of a very serious nature were determined to be “without foundation” or “any evidence” or “unreasonable”. A number of complaints of long duration were withdrawn during the course of the Commissions’ hearings.
The Commission found “there was not a scintilla of evidence” for his “hurtful” allegations that former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, was guilty of corruption and arranged to have a Superintendent placed on a promotion list, this being the primary complaint received by me as Minister on 23rd January 2012 which was at the foundation of allegations made by Michael Martin on the Dail plinth and later in the Dail Chamber in February 2014.
What the Commission also described as “hurtful” allegations of corruption made against Asst Commissioner Byrne, Chief Superintendent Rooney and Superintendent Clancy and an implied allegation against Superintendant Cunningham were all also determined to be “unfounded”.
Of course, these allegations of corruption should never have been made.
Garda related events in which I was engaged, when Minister for Justice, which gave rise to substantial public controversy have now been examined by three different independent retired judges of our Superior Courts.
They have irrefutably established that serious charges and accusations made against me, both inside and outside the Dail, were entirely untrue.
For over two years, I have had to live with the public opprobrium, criticism and abuse they generated. I hope that with the publication of the O’Higgins Report, I can now move on to a new chapter.
It is clear from the O’Higgins Report that the Garda failings indentified in it occurred well before my appointment as Minister for Justice, at a time when Micheal Martin was in Government.
It is now for Micheal Martin to explain why, in February 2014, he chose to ignore that all of the matters detailed in Sgt McCabe’s letter of 23rd January 2012, save for the allegations of corruption against the Garda Commissioner, related to events that occurred in 2007/2008 when Fianna Fail was in Government, and why he chose, together with his Fianna Fail colleagues, to accuse me of “undermining the administration of Justice in the State” and to target me with a torrent of false allegations about my conduct as Minister for Justice.
The truth has now been irrefutably established. Now that we are in the era of “new politics”, I hope that Michael Martin and all of my accusers, then in opposition, will now reflect on how they dealt with these matters and withdraw on the Dail record the false allegations they made.
Before my resignation and in my resignation letter and also following publication of the Guerin Report in engagements with the Taoiseach and, later, on 19th June 2014, in the Dail Chamber, I disputed the approach of Mr Sean Guerin SC in the conduct of his Inquiry.
Both in my engagements with the Taoiseach and in the Dail Chamber, I disputed his findings against me.
My concerns were entirely ignored by the Taoiseach and my Dail contribution was not only ignored by all sides in the Dail Chamber, including the Minister for Justice, but also ridiculed and criticised by some commentators.
The Guerin Report was laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, its flawed conclusions and opinions were accepted in full by the Government and the Taoiseach put on the Dail record its adverse conclusions concerning my conduct as Minister for Justice.
If the Government, as it must, accepts the O’Higgins Commission findings in full, the Taoiseach now has a duty to correct the Dail record.
The Government also has a duty to ensure the now discredited adverse conclusions and opinions contained in the Guerin Report are acknowledged to be in error and corrected and that the Report is withdrawn from circulation in its present form.
These are important issues of relevance to standards in public life, fair procedures and the importance of truth in politics. I will be writing to the Taoiseach on issues of relevance and importance following on from publication of the O’Higgins Report and seeking a substantive response.
Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and former Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Further to the O’Higgins Commission’s report being handed to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday, which hasn’t been published yet…
The O’Higgins Commission of Inquiry has found that former minister for justice Alan Shatter took allegations of garda whistleblowers very seriously.
The unpublished report said he had very substantial concerns and had displayed active and personal concern.
Given that most of the allegations had been examined or were previously reviewed, the actions of the then minister were amply justified, it believes.
In relation to the former garda commissioner, Martin Callinan, the report states that clearly and unambiguously there was not a scintilla of evidence to support any allegation of any type of corruption.
The commission found that any aspersions on his integrity were unfounded and deeply hurtful.
It also said that exchanges between the garda commissioner, the justice minister and the Department of Justice were at all times professional and appropriate.
The O’Higgins Commission of Inquiry also found that garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns.
It concluded the garda sergeant showed courage and performed a public service at considerable personal cost.
From top; Alan Shatter and Josepha Madigan; Recording of Alan Shatter’s interview with Sean O’Rourke this morning
Former Fine Gael TD and justice minister Alan Shatter spoke to Sean O’Rourke this morning, about losing his seat in the three-seater Dublin-Rathdown constituency.
His Fine Gael colleague Josepha Madigan took the second seat. Independent Alliance’s Shane Ross took the first seat while Catherine Martin, of the Green Party, took the third seat.
During the interview Mr Shatter spoke about ‘truths not being told’ and the ‘framing and manipulation of events’ by the party’s back room staff.
Grab a tay.
Alan Shatter: “I was running with a good colleague, Josepha Madigan. Our objective was to win the two seats but it was absolutely clear to me a few days before polling day that that would not be achieved and that we were going to win one seat and, at that point in time, contrary to agreement, a vote management arrangement was imposed which won’t only have the effect of my losing the seat, I’ve a simple view of politics..”
O’Rourke: “Do you think they decided at headquarters that they knew there was only one seat in it for Fine Gael and they decided it was going to be Josepha Madigan, rather than Alan Shatter…”
Shatter: “No, I don’t know if that’s the case but there’s one basic rule in politics, being a member of the Dáil is a great privilege of public service. It’s not a right and it’s the electorate’s right to choose who they should support. The difficulty is in the context of the Fine Gael party we have a very loyal, basic electorate, over and above those who might support us on some occasions and not on others. And they’re used to getting directions, signed by the Taoiseach, requesting they vote for a particular candidate. And I now know that there are people, particularly in the Clonskeagh, Kilmacud area of my constituency who feel they were grievously misled. They were led to believe that two seats would be secured in circumstances in which I was warning not only were two seats not going to be secured but the strategy be implemented would effectively result in me losing my seat. In saying that I do not in any shape or form want to take away from the success of Josepha Madigan and I genuinely wish her well in the Dáil and I’m sure she’s delighted to have been elected. And I…”
O’Rourke: “Right and just on that point, now I don’t exactly remember the words that Brian Hayes [FG director of elections] but I raised this with him yesterday, he was on the programme, and he indicated I think that that was done with the agreement of the local organisation, not something that was imposed.”
Shatter: “No, no, it was imposed. I had a meeting with our director of elections and it was acknowledged that this was not an agreed strategy and it was quite clear. I think, I appreciate Brian acknowledging that they got the strategy wrong and to take responsibility for it. I think it’s unfair for Brian Hayes to be regarded as solely responsible because we had been informed. A poll had been taken, to which I had given absolutely no credibility of any description and which was absolutely, it produced results, which absolutely was at variance with my understanding of what was happening on the ground and unfortunately I was proved to be correct in that my views were entirely ignored. But this isn’t about me, it’s ultimately about those who vote for the Fine Gael party, feeling they can trust and rely on what the party is saying, they can trust instructions…”
Shatter: “I can’t speak of experiences for other constituencies. Merely I think there’s one basic important thing which is a political party must regard their candidates, their TDs as people, not as little chess pieces to be moved on a chess board and when you’re involved in a general election campaign, there must be some trust when individuals involved in that campaign are reporting back what’s happening on the ground. Those sitting on Mount Street, or elsewhere in the Fine Gael headquarters, can’t be gazing into a crystal ball, deluding themselves as to what they expect might happen and then giving directions that have no reality. And I think there was an element of delusion in this campaign which was based on the experiences of the conservative party in England where there was this perception that in the last week of the campaign, that regardless of what the polls was saying, droves of electors would support the party – clearly that didn’t happen.”
O’Rourke: “Well who ran the show there? Because there were senior ministers put in charge of this campaign, not just Brian Hayes as director of election but your successor in the Department of Justice, Frances Fitzgerald; Simon Coveney; and Leo Varadkar. They were a kind of triumvirate of Cabinet ministers.”
Shatter: “Well I don’t think Brian Hayes should be a fall guy of the outcome of the general election. And I think the outcome is more, there are major issues beyond strategy. This isn’t just strategy, but if I can finish off dealing with the strategic issue. It is quite bizarre that you had three senior Cabinet ministers involved in, for practically a year running committees, to work out where the strategy went and Frances would have been chairman of the strategy committee; Leo, god help us, the communications committee, cause the communications were a disaster; and then you have all the back room group. And there is a problem with the manner in which the party internally is now organised. There’s, as I say, a perception, I think, at leadership level that you can frame and manipulate events to the benefit of the party and indeed bring…”
O’Rourke: “But sure that goes back to the days of Garret Fitzgerald and Peter Prendergast in 1981…”
Shatter: “And that ultimately in ’87 proved to be a disaster… and that you can bring the general public along with you and that, on occasions, you don’t necessarily tell the full truth about events. And I think there is a problem in the context of the sort of praetorian guard of the party, the non-elected officials who are also engaged and were engaged in the campaign. And I would hope now the new parliamentary party will require that there is a full examination of how this election was planned, of how the message was framed, of the lack of flexibility during the course of the campaign, to realise things were going wrong and to effect change. It’s very important that that’s seriously examined. There’s also another issue within the party which is that the members of the parliamentary party need to take back to themselves the role that they should play. I don’t believe, for example, that party officials, such as the Taoiseach’s advisors, attend meetings of the parliamentary party which is something that’s developed in recent years but never happened in the past.”
Shatter: “I’m now on the outside looking in and I don’t want to be firing spears at individuals but clearly the Taoiseach has questions to ask himself and to answer about the manner in which the campaign was conducted.”
O’Rourke: “Do you think he should remain as leader of the party?”
Shatter: “Well that’s obviously an issue for the parliamentary party, the most immediate issue of great importance to our country, because this isn’t all about the Fine Gael party is the formation of Government. And I’m hugely concerned about the direction in which that may travel.”
O’Rourke: “In what sense?”
Shatter: “Well I think that it’s very important that, for example, our parliamentary party is people of experience and new people. I think it’s important that the newly elected members of the party who rightly are entitled to celebrate their election, aren’t besotted by the fact that our members of the parliamentary party and they ask hard questions about the future of the party and the party. It’s important, colleagues who have been successfully reelected, don’t hold back on their views in the hope that Fine Gael back in government means they’ll get ministerial preferment. I believe if we’re going to engage in consultations which should be engaged in, Fine Gael remains the lead party in the Dáil, there are very basic Fine Gael principles that are not just in the interest of the party but in the public interest, to be protected and by that, for example, I mean that we need to ensure, whatever agreement might be entered into, that people who properly obey the law, aren’t penalised, and people who defied the law aren’t rewarded.”
O’Rourke: “Are you talking about there about Irish Water charges?”
Shatter: “I think that’s one of the very particular issues. We also need to ensure that where issues of difficulty arise that the truth is always told about that issues, those issues and that other approaches aren’t taken for the sake of political expediency.”
O’Rourke: “Now, you mentioned, that’s the second time you’ve talked about the importance of telling the truth and you seemed to be hinting earlier that the truth hadn’t been told or at least the full truth hadn’t been told about certain things – what were you referring to there?”
Shatter: “Well I think that, I come back to something I said earlier, I think one of the difficulties with this election is that some of those engaged in the election planning and I emphasised only some and I think it would be unfair to apply this remotely to others, I think have managed to get themselves into a state of mind that no matter what happens, you can deal with events and manipulate those events to either avoid controvesy or to achieve some benefit. I don’t want to get into any particular detail at this time, it’s something I might return to in the future but I do think..”
O’Rourke: “What are you talking about?”
Shatter: “I do think it’s important that the truth is told about issues of difficulty and that the public aren’t misled. In the context of entering into any arrangements for the formation of a government I think it’s important that we truly examine, one, what’s in the interest of the country, secondly, what’s in the interest of the Fine Gael party, and don’t enter into short-term arrangements simply for the sake of particular individuals who are remaining in power. I think that’s a very important issue.”
O’Rourke: “Well are you talking primarily there, it seems you are, about Enda Kenny?”
Shatter: “No, I’m not going beyond, Sean, what I’ve said, but I think there are important issues….”
Shatter: “In a nutshell it [the Guerin Report] related to allegations made by a Garda whistleblower, the complaints he made had not been properly addressed by me and that I ignored serious Garda failures and a report by Mr Guerin seemed to substantiate that but he produced a report without ever discussing the issue with me. We’re now in a space and everyone has forgotten this where Judge Higgins has been quietly conducting hearings in an inquiry, an investigation into all of these matters over the peat 12 months or so and I can’t speak in detail about what’s happening within that Commission of Investigation…”
O’Rourke: “No but you could answer the question though because you’ve gone on for a minute and a half – was the Taoiseach panicked into nudging you in the direction of resignation?”
Shatter: “Well what I’m going to say is that I expect, when the Higgins report is published, people will have a very different insights and understandings of those events and I believe that matters relating to Guerin, both prior to Mr Guerin reporting and the manner in which the report was dealt with by the Taoiseach should have been dealt with entirely differently and I’m hopeful that that will become absolutely clear in time to come.”