Opposition seeks files on Shatter ‘incident’

Mattie McGrath: A matter of principle is at stake.

Opposition TDs have demanded the release of any Garda documents relating to a breathalyser incident involving Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath told the Dáil such a report did exist and should now be made public.

Mr McGrath said the matter had relevance because of the way the minister had released gardaí information about Independent TD Mick Wallace being allowed to avoid roadside penalty points for using his mobile phone while driving.

The TD said that it could not be allowed to seem as if there was one law for ministers and another for everyone else.

Addressing Eamon Gilmore during Leaders Questions, Mr McGrath asked: “Will the Tánaiste, in the public interest and to facilitate greater transparency, call on the minister to make available immediately the Garda report on that incident?

Mr Gilmore said that he had been breathalysed twice in routine checks, but said he could not comment on Mr Shatter as: “That is a matter between the Garda and the individuals concerned.”

Mr McGrath accused the Tánaiste of treating the situation as “a joke”, before adding that a matter of principle was at stake.

“The events involving the fixed penalty points controversy have highlighted the principle that there must be one law in this country that is applied to all citizens.

“They also highlight the ongoing need to restore and maintain public confidence in the institutions of the State.

“They highlight the need not to allow a perception to develop that there are double standards,” the Tipperary South TD said.

Green Party leader and former cabinet minister Eamon Ryan also waded into the controversy, saying the affair was damaging the Dáil.

“Ignoring minister Alan Shatter’s wrongdoing is bringing politics into disrepute. The political use of confidential Garda information has now become the new norm,” he said.

The Green leader also took a swipe at Mr McGrath for using the same tactics as the justice minister.

“Mattie McGrath’s use of confidential Garda information was just as wrong as what Minister Shatter was doing.

“A fundamental legal principle has been breached. Any dealings people have with the Garda can now become a subject for public debate. The leaking of such material by the Gardaí is a real problem, but the minister for justice is in no position to address it.

“The minister got away scot free with his serious breach of the standards of public office and now Deputy McGrath is following suit. He is learning from the master.

“This whole affair has gone way beyond the issue of penalty points, drink driving, or Mick Wallace. This is about the very integrity of the justice system in our country.”

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