Last night Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s appeared on Prime Time in relation to the alleged bugging of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
During his appearance, presenter Claire Byrne asked Mr Shatter about the different versions of events told by him in the Dáil on Tuesday, compared with that of the GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien, told at an oireachtas committee meeting on Wednesday, and indeed what GSOC commissioner Kieran Fitzgerald said on Prime Time on Tuesday.
Mr Shatter put it down to general confusion while also insisting what he said in the Dáil was exactly what GSOC told him.
Claire Byrne: “Just to clear what you said in the Dáil was based exactly on what Simon O’Brien told you during your meeting on Monday. So did he have a different story then? When he went to the committee. I mean, let’s admit it, he gave an incredibly different account of what had happened?”
Alan Shatter: “I’m very conscious that Mr O’Brien and the other members of GSOC were at a committee meeting for up to four hours and a series of questions were put to them. And I think, in the course of that event, there were different answers given, with regard to particular issues and these, some of what was said during the course of that seemed to me to be a little confused or contradictory.”
Byrne: “So you were surprised by at least some of what was said during that committee hearing by the chairman of GSOC?”
Shatter: “At no stage during his oral briefing of me, in the context of a written brief, or indeed the press release that GSOC issued, was it stated that he or members of GSOC believed they were under surveillance. What was stated was that, in the context of a security sweep that had been undertaken, vulnerabilities, or potential threats or abnormalities had been identified. And I acted, I acted on foot of that.”
Byrne: “Ok. But this is very important. Do you believe that you were given information that led you to mislead the Dáil?”
Shatter: “No, I was given information that I brought to the Dáil…”
Byrne: “But it was wrong, it was contradicted afterwards..”
Shatter:…”the brief…well no, it was, the brief that I received from GSOC, which was very important, I forwarded this evening to Joint Oireachtas Petitions Committee, before whom the GSOC members were yesterday [Wednesday]. I’ve been asked to present at the committee next Wednesday, I’m very happy to do so. I do think that it’s important that there’s absolute clarity in regard to these issues.”
Byrne: “So you weren’t told the full story?”
Shatter: “No I was told a, the story…”
Byrne: “A story but not the whole story.”
Shatter: “I was told the story that I told the Dáil and I do think there’s now some confusion arising from the four hours of hearings that took place.”
Byrne: “Quite aside from the hearings, Kieran Fitzgerald was in here, the Garda Ombudsman Commissioner the other night and he said that the first security sweep was done because there was a credible threat they believed, now that wasn’t what you said in the Dáil? You said it was routine.”
Shatter: “Kieran Fitzgerald, I think I recollect correctly, said that he agreed with my account in the Dáil..”
Byrne: “But he did say there was a credible threat.”
Shatter: “I repeat: my objective, and my only objective, was to tell the Dáil the truth of what I knew about these matters. What I knew about these matters was based on the briefing I got from the chairman of GSOC and also from the written submission that they made to me. It was absolutely clear and the written submission they furnished sets it out. They referenced the importance of confidentiality and security and that because, for some considerable time, going all the way back to 2007 apparently, there hadn’t been a general security sweep, they determined what should be undertaken. No threat was ever identified to me as stimulating the need for that sweep.”
Watch Alan Shatter’s interview in full here
Previously: Contradictions In Terms
UPDATE: Read the briefing note given from GSOC to Alan Shatter here