The ex-Dublin Rathdown TD writes at length about a now infamous speech given by Mr Varadkar at a road safety conference in March 2014.
Mr Varadkar called on then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to withdraw controversial remarks he made about the two Garda whistleblowers, Maurice McCabe and John Wilson.
The commissioner used the word “disgusting” in relation to the leaking of details of the scrapping of penalty points by the two men.
By contrast, Mr Varadkar described them as “distinguished” and suggested the Department of Justice was not properly investigating the allegations.
Mr Shatter was in Mexico on government business at the time and felt “ambushed” by the comments.
In his book, he claims Mr Varadkar chose to “entirely ignore” briefings from the Department of Justice on the actions being taken and the fact the issue had been referred to the Garda Inspectorate.
Mr Shatter says the RSA event was used “as a platform for a publicity-seeking piece of self promotion”.
“The speech also clearly promoted the false narrative that both Callinan and I had ‘turned a blind eye to McCabe’s complaints…”
“I believe that Varadkar was opportunistically reigniting a controversy, despite knowing the background to be more complex than the public could have understood or as presented by Opposition politicians and media commentators.”
He continued: “Varadkar was depicted as the handsome hero, Luke Skywalker, and Martin Callinan and I joined at the hip as Darth Vader, with the shadow of Maurice McCabe cast across the whole stage.”
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….