Gilmore branded hypocrite in Shatter case

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has been branded a hypocrite over his attitude to the Mick Wallace penalty points affair.

Opposition TDs made the charge after the Labour leader said issues dealt with by the gardaí should not be made public unless charges are involved — while at the same time expressing full confidence in embattled Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Mr Shatter was forced to make an emergency statement to the Dáil due to the controversy, stoked by his decision to reveal information given to him by the Garda Commissioner that Independent TD Mick Wallace had roadside penalty points waived.

Pressed in the Dáil on whether it was right for Mr Shatter to make public the confidential information, the Tánaiste defended his Cabinet colleague.

However, Mr Gilmore then added: “Issues that An Garda Síochána are dealing with should not come out into the public domain unless there is an actual charge, either through the media or any other way.

“There is an issue in relation to privacy and I think that’s an issue that probably requires a longer and wider discussion, and is probably an issue that will be addressed by an Oireachtas committee.”

The move led opposition TDs to accuse the Tánaiste of hypocrisy, with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin branding Mr Shatter’s “non apology” to Mr Wallace as “insulting”.

“Deputy Wallace may be entitled to a personal apology but the issue is much wider than that. It is about the abuse of private information about a citizen that comes into the possession of a minister.

“The apology should have been about the misuse of that information and the abuse of his position. It was a half-hearted apology but, crucially, it missed the essential point, the essence of this is: He [Shatter] stood over the misuse of private information supplied to him by the Garda Commissioner,” Mr Martin said.

United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly also condemned the stance of the Tánaiste and the Justice Minister as she warned that she had evidence whistleblowers had been “warned off” over the quashing of penalty points issue.

Ms Daly joined fellow independent TDs in demanding a public inquiry into the whole penalty points issue.

Mr Gilmore also stated he had full confidence in the Garda Commissioner and the relationship he enjoys with the minister: “There is no questions whatever of Minister Shatter or An Garda Síochána keeping tabs on members of this house, or Minister Shatter or anyone in the Government keeping tabs on political opponents.”

The public office watchdog, SIPO, is conducting an inquiry into the Wallace affair, as is the Data Protection Commission.

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