Shatter fails to back GSOC boss O' Brien

Alan Shatter said his job is to ensure public confidence in the gardaí. Photo: Niall Carson

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has again refused to pledge individual support for the chairman of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, Simon O’Brien.

Speaking to reporters at Templemore College, which was marking its 50th anniversary, he said: “I have confidence in GSOC. I have confidence in the GSOC commission. I am not going to differentiate between individual members, because it’s a commission and they make decisions collectively.”

He said the members of the commission were very disturbed by the leak to The Sunday Times of information and it is of crucial importance that information is maintained on a confidential basis and that there is public trust and confidence in GSOC.

“GSOC are currently investigating the matter. I think it is appropriate that they conduct their internal investigation and I hope that it will produce a satisfactory outcome.”

Mr Shatter said his job was to ensure public confidence in An Garda Síochána, and GSOC, and he had an appropriate relationship both with the Garda Commissioner and with members of GSOC.

“The relationship with GSOC has to be in the context of not in any way interfering with their independent function and their statutory obligations.”

He dismissed suggestions that his relationship to the Garda commissioner was too close, adding: “I think it would be a very bad day for this State if the minister for justice of the day didn’t have a strong working relationship with the Garda commissioner of the day. I don’t understand why that’s a criticism.

“I could well see very substantial criticism being voiced if the commissioner were not talking to each other. So I am afraid this is the sort of narrative that one’s political opponents engage in, in search of an easy headline. I don’t think the vast majority of the general public take that type of commentary too seriously.”

He said he was not out to get anyone’s head, and his interest was that everything calms down, that uncertainties are dealt with, and that there is absolute and complete clarity.

“But I have no doubt that no matter how much clarity there comes, there will be some people, who in the context of this being a very serious matter, will want to play rather silly political games,” he said.

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