Claims that Alan Shatter, the justice minister, has been “vindictive” by attempting to “silence” gardaí have been rejected by the Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.
As four sergeants faced disciplinary action over their walk-out during a garda conference, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the Government does not want members of the force “to open their mouths”.
However, the Tánaiste said “the Government is not disciplining anybody” and it was a matter for the Garda Commissioner, not the minister.
Mr Gilmore, in response to Dáil questions, said: “It should not be a matter for political debate and discussion or political interference...it should be left with the Garda Commissioner.”
Ms McDonald said she accepted that the disciplinary action was not a matter for Government but “we have a real problem that the Government, in particular the minister for justice and equality, is vindictive towards an Garda Síochána”.
She said Mr Shatter was “hell bent on silencing members” if they are critical of Government strategy and asked the Tánaiste to “diplomatically advise” his colleague that “it’s in no one’s interests for him to pursue a vindictive position in respect of the gardaí who should not be silenced”.
Mr Gilmore defended Mr Shatter and said the Government was “perfectly willing to listen and to hear the points of view” of gardaí.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath said Mr Shatter “has not shown any semblance of understanding, appreciation or, dare I say it, any modicum of respect for the members of an Garda Síochána”.
He said he had “reliable information” that the minister had “several run-ins and disputes” with members of the force who are protecting his house, and even went as far as to accuse Mr Shatter of not allowing the gardaí protecting his house to use the toilets.
Mr Gilmore said this was “untrue” and laughed off the accusation.
However, Mr McGrath said the disciplinary action is a sign that we are not living in a democracy.
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