Watchdog probes penalty points row

Political watchdogs are seeking more information from Alan Shatter, the justice minister, regarding his controversial exposé of Independent TD Mick Wallace escaping penalty points.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) met yesterday to discuss the case and moved to write to the minister to look for more details on the matter.

Mr Shatter’s decision to ambush anti-penalty point let-off campaigner Mr Wallace on live television with the revelation plunged the minister into a major political squall.

Fianna Fáil put a motion of no confidence down in Mr Shatter over the matter, and a subsequent revelation that he had failed to complete a road-side breath test, citing his asthma as the reason.

Mr Shatter reminded Mr Wallace that the Independent TD had been seen by gardaí using a mobile phone while at the wheel and waved on.

Mr Wallace insisted he had not been hypocritical over the incident, as his campaign was against the practice of wiping points once they had been logged on the system, not when they were waived at the roadside.

Mr Shatter said he obtained the information as part of a briefing from the Garda commissioner, and insisted that he did not collect files on political opponents.

After initially insisting it was in the public interest to release the information, the minister was forced to apologise twice to Mr Wallace after his first attempt was considered to be half-hearted.

Sipo could not say how long the inquiry into the incident would take to complete.

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