Shatter shies away as scandals abound

Garda whistleblower John Wilson during a Justice 4 All protest outside Leinster House yesterday. Picture: Brian Lawless

So, who’s screwed now, Mr Shatter?

As the GSOC crisis continued to spiral out of his control and engulfed the whistleblower controversy in its path, the eye of the ensuing political storm came ever closer to the justice minister himself as he was forced to sacrifice one of his close appointees, Oliver Connolly, in order to try and save his own job.

“If Shatter thinks you’re screwing him, you’re finished,” is the now infamous quote Mr Connolly, freshly sacked from his role as the confidential go-to point for whistleblowing gardaí, is alleged to have told Sergeant Maurice McCabe after he continually raised concerns about penalty point let-offs.

“If Shatter thinks it’s you, or if he thinks... here’s this guy again trying another route to put you under pressure, he’ll go after you,” Mr Connolly is alleged to have continued.

And what did Mr Connolly get for his alleged efforts to get McCabe to back off from confronting the justice minister?

A swift “screw you” from Mr Shatter in the shape of a swiftly ascribed P45.

However, the blunt bye-bye was not delivered to a shocked Dáil by Mr Shatter. It was left to the Taoiseach to tell TDs that Mr Connolly had been “relieved of his duties”.

So, where was the justice minister at the time?

Why, he was too busy to attend the chamber as he was conducting a tour around Leinster House for a few visitors.

Well, a political car crash like this is bound to attract ghoulish rubber-neckers seeking a gawk, isn’t it?

Mr Shatter also insisted he was not in the habit of “bugging” journalists, which came as a surprise to reporters being bugged by his cavalier attitude to the whole affair where we still do not know if the independent body charged with policing the police was under surveillance or not — and, even more worryingly, the Government does not seem to care.

Mr Shatter kept insisting he was not seeking to undermine GSOC — but then why hire a security firm, Rits, to second-guess the commissioners if you did not seek to undermine them?

The result was that Mr Shatter was putting on the Ritz, and attempting to dance on the grave of GSOC credibility, donned in funereal top hat and tails for good measure.

Death dominated the Dáil as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin condemned the dismissive attitude of Mr Shatter to whistleblowers in the force. Mr Martin said this was creating a culture of fear as he handed over to the Taoiseach reports from a concerned gardaí that police incompetence had led to extremely serious crimes, up to and including murder, being committed.

And all the while, the justice minister continued to insist there was nothing worth noting in the whole GSOC blower mess — which is most curious as he has been forced into holding an inquiry, however limited, into this crisis he pretends does not exist.

As Mr Shatter decided on which retired judge he would choose to judge him by carrying out the limp “review” into the paperwork piled up by the twists and turns of the GSOC scandal, minds wondered as to who would be most fitting.

With Louis Walsh now a retired judge from The X Factor, surely he could have been called in to take Mr Shatter’s sorry saga to yet another new level of political farce?

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