Shatter: I failed to complete breath test for gardaí because of asthma

Justice Minister Alan Shatter was embroiled in fresh controversy after it emerged he failed to complete a roadside breath test.

The minister said that his asthma prevented him from doing so at a Garda checkpoint.

Opposition TDs expressed concern that Mr Shatter had failed to disclose the information before — despite being in the eye of a political storm over his decision to release confidential information on TD Mick Wallace being given a roadside waiver for penalty points.

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesman Niall Collins questioned why Mr Shatter was not asked to give a sample at a gardaí station if he could not complete the breath test, as he said this would be normal in similar circumstances.

“Minister Shatter’s statement is actually bizarre,” Mr Collins said.

“It is incredible that he did not release this information before now, particularly when he was busy giving out private information on Deputy Wallace as he believed he was ‘defending the role of the Garda Siochána’.

“Why then did Minister Shatter not co-operate fully when asked to blow into the breathalyser by the gardaí when he was stopped at a routine checkpoint? What are other asthmatics required to do in similar cases?” he asked.

The justice minister was forced to release details of the incident when Independent TD Mattie McGrath raised the matter in the Dáil, asking if Mr Shatter’s reaction to the breathalyser request, which he claimed occurred in February or March of 2011, had been “appropriate and cordial”, and whether Mr Shatter attempted to use the privilege of travelling to and from the Dáil as a means of avoiding a the breath test.

Mr Shatter said an incident occurred in Dublin’s Pembroke St in late 2008, or early 2009, when he was stopped at a checkpoint.

“There was a queue of motorists and when I was reached, like those before me, my road tax and insurance discs were checked and I was asked to exhale into a breathalyser.

“I did so but failed to fully complete the task due to my being asthmatic. I explained this to the garda. I also explained that I was on my way home from Dáil Éireann and that I had consumed no alcohol of any nature that day. The garda consulted with another garda and I was waved on,” the statement said.

As there is a bar on TDs being stopped on their way to or from the Oireachtas, Mr Collins queried Mr Shatter’s account.

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