Gilmore: Labour pledges its full support to Shatter

Under-fire Alan Shatter has the “full support” of the Labour Party according to leader Eamon Gilmore, as the justice minister faces into a Dáil no-confidence motion.

A number of ministers in the junior coalition party came out in support of Mr Shatter yesterday, with Mr Gilmore insisting he is “doing a very good job as minister for justice and defence and he has the full support of the entire Government and of the two parties in Government”.

Asked if Mr Shatter still had questions to answer on his use of Garda information against a political opponent, the Tánaiste said: “He has already made a statement, he has given an apology, he has said he is sorry, he has explained the issues that have arisen and he has the full support of the two parties in Government.”

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said Mr Shatter should not have revealed on Prime Time that Independent TD, Mick Wallace, got a “ticking off” for using a mobile phone while driving, but “the issue couldn’t have been more trivial, and he has apologised for it”.

He said it was “a matter of exceeding triviality, it was more gossip than anything else”.

On the revelations that Mr Shatter had unsuccessfully attempted to complete a breathalyser test when stopped at a Garda checkpoint four years ago, Mr Shatter said: “It is a completely trivial controversy, it’s a bottle of smoke.”

Mr Rabbitte told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that if a Garda record existed on the incident, he was sure the minister would be willing to use his powers to make it available. Garda sources were quoted yesterday saying no file existed on the incident, and that Mr Shatter’s account that he could not give a breath sample because of asthma, was correct.

The minister faces a Dáil no confidence motion, tabled by Fianna Fáil, which will be debated tomorrow and Wednesday. Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, accused the opposition of “trying to breathe more life” into the controversy.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the justice minister has refused to confirm or deny reports that a fake Rolex watch was among the items stolen, but subsequently recovered, when his house was burgled last year.

A one-line statement from the minister said two watches were stolen at the time: “The first, a good watch, which had belonged to my late father-in-law and secondly a cheap watch which I purchased on holidays in Spain or the Canaries roughly 20 years ago.”

His office has also failed to answer questions on whether the ownership of the fake watch was in conflict with his responsibility as justice minister to tackle the massive counterfeit trade.

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