Stabbed In The Front



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.”

Yesterday: ‘Enda Kenny Needs To Go’

The Thin Blue Timeline

37 thoughts on “Stabbed In The Front

          1. Bertie Blenkinsop

            To be fair, much and all as I love Mary Lou, I think she had her confirmation photo on her posters so there’s a lot of it about.

          2. Neilo

            @Bertie: you’re dead to me, man – on aesthetic grounds, not political. I thought we were O’Connellites 4 Life. No twinset and pearls for you!

          3. Medium Sized C

            What I don’t get is how they made Enda Kenny look even more like a corpse with its eyes open than last time.

          4. Bertie Blenkinsop

            @ Neilo – I know.
            When it comes to matters of the heart I’m a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

    1. Same old same old

      She looks fantastic. A very attractive older woman.
      I’m delighted she got elected standing up against travellers and other scourges in society.

  1. Em-malicious

    I really hope he cranks out another erotic novel now he has more time on his hands. The pages are a bit worn out on my copy of ‘Laura’. I could do with another Shatterific Literotic installment some time soon ;)

    1. Joan Bruton

      you could try reading Madigans while you wait !

      Josepha Madigan has a penchant for pithy quotes so it seems a fitting tribute to her debut novel to begin with the above quote from Walter Scott. The aptly titled Negligent Behaviour has as its heroine sassy solicitor Helene McBain, who is 35, single and scarred from a past relationship: these days she prefers to settle for sex only “on a not infrequent basis”.
      Happily childless, she is a partner with Peterson & Co, a high-profile Dublin law firm, which is a long way from her humble beginnings as the only child of Irish shopkeeper parents in Devon.
      Helene’s contentment is, however, suddenly shattered with the arrival of a trio of men into her life: Barnaby Walsh, an accountant from the Law Society who is auditing the firm’s books; Dan Goodings, an IT businessman who jogs marathons for charities, likes to cook and is at first a client in a divorce case but who, post-divorce, Helene admits is “beginning to grow on me”; and Murdoch Pierce, a suave, married senior counsel. Helene launches into steamy sex sessions with two of the three men.
      Helene’s indiscretions cause her to become deeply embroiled in the “shambolic saga” of the machinations of Andrew Peterson, the amoral and manipulative managing partner of Peterson & Co.
      The story that unravels is set during the last gasps of “Celtic Tiger” Ireland. It is often said that fact is stranger than fiction. Negligent Behaviour, while ostensibly a work of fiction, is fuelled by the recent scandals which laid bare the pervasive corruption and cronyism in the higher echelons of Irish society.
      The novel presents a fusion of professional and personal misconduct, namely, fraud and embezzlement on a mega scale, political corruption and blackmail together with an unexpected pregnancy with paternity questions attached. There is also the discovery of a male escort agency for gays, and the standard fare for every chick-lit novel — love affairs that lead to marital breakdown. This avalanche of illicit activities results in an abundance of introspection on love and life and the inevitable moral dilemmas.
      While one can only commend the author for having the courage to embark on the hard road of self-publishing, the novel suffers from the perils that stem from that choice. Wobbly syntax and a tension in the writing between the demands of the chick-lit genre and the obvious legal expertise of the author result, at times, in the two excesses of legalistic minutiae mixed with gratuitous sexual references.

        1. Gav D

          Good lord, this is real?

          Seems like something written by the mother from the Ross O’Carroll-Kellyb ooks.

    2. missred

      To be fair, there’s only one sex scene in his book and it’s pretty tame. But I’d like to see him go full Mills & Boon with the next one

    3. Neilo

      @Bertie: I think we know it’s really matters of ‘the other brain’ that concern us!

  2. Jake38

    It’s a pity Shatter did not get back. He has a great work ethic and came closest of any Justice minister to reeling in the legal gravy train that is the Irish “justice” system.

      1. Charlie

        He was an arrogant idiot with an ego as big as his black shoe polish hair conditioner stockpile.

    1. VinLieger

      His motives were more about revenge than anything else though, he’s got a massive chip on his shoulder about not being able to walk straight into a senior counsel position in the law library

      1. Neilo

        Grand so, particularly if it played any role in sorting out that blimmin’ profession. Spite can be one of the best motives EVAH.

      2. Lilly

        @Vin, what are you on about? He’s a solicitor, not a barrister and AFAIK has never expressed any interest in crossing over.

  3. Tish Mahorey

    “In saying that I do not in any shape or form want to take away from the success of Josepha Madigan”

    Well actually, you are.

  4. Tish Mahorey

    And I’m tired of hearing what a reformer he was. That’s the line trotted out by right wing supporters looking for something, anything positive to say about him.

    Shatter suffers from too much self regard, a selfish indulgence which results in isolation.

  5. Frilly Keane

    I’m not complaining about Shat not getting back in
    But that’s a personal opinion

    As an Independent commentator on the whole show

    He’s right. The last 8 days before polling was rotten at Government level.

    This election was manky with obstruction, manipulation, deceit, coercion, fear and bias.

    If a FG/ FF Govt gets through everyone else should walk out and take to the Streets

    1. Lilly

      I heard Brid Smith on radio yesterday and felt seriously worried. She seemed so wooly when pressed on anything, good on platitudes but that won’t get us far.

  6. Lilly

    As for Shat, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

    1. Nice Jung Man

      Plus as an expert in manipulating public opinion he knows exactly how to do it right ;)

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