Alan Shatter faces motion of no confidence

Friday 24 May 2013 22.34
Alan Shatter was yesterday forced to reveal details of a checkpoint incident from a few years ago
Alan Shatter was yesterday forced to reveal details of a checkpoint incident from a few years ago

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the government will strongly defend the record of Alan Shatter after Fianna Fáil tabled a motion of no confidence in the Justice Minister.

Speaking in Co Galway Mr Kenny said the move amounted to political opportunism and that he personally had confidence in Minister Shatter.

The Taoiseach also said he had not discussed with Mr Shatter whether he invoked Oireachtas privilege to avoid a breathalyser test when stopped by gardaí at a mandatory checkpoint.

The motion of no confidence will be taken in private members' time on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson Niall Collins said Mr Shatter still has questions to answer about his conduct during the penalty points row.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Collins said the party is bringing the motion of no confidence in the minister because of its concerns about his standards and policies.

He accused Mr Shatter of "double standards" and an abuse of privilege in his comments about Independent TD Mick Wallace.

Mr Collins also said there had been a breakdown of trust between "rank-and-file" gardaí and the minister.

However, the Government looks certain to win the vote, with a number of Mr Shatter's Cabinet colleagues expressing their confidence in him.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he has full confidence in the Mr Shatter and said that the controversy over garda discretion was over as far as the Government is concerned.

Mr Shatter is the most reforming minister for justice for many years, he added.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has said he believes that the controversy has been blown out of all proportion.

Mr Quinn said the suggestion that Mr Shatter is probing into the private lives and behaviour of people is exaggerated.

He said he had heard Mr Shatter's statement and he personally believed the matter had now been dealt with.

Meanwhile, Minister for Health James Reilly said he believes Mr Shatter has made a very clear statement on being stopped by gardaí and has explained the circumstances.

He said that independent TD Mattie McGrath was confused about what he was alleging.

In response to a Dáil question from Mr McGrath yesterday, Mr Shatter released a statement saying he failed to complete a breathalyser test some years ago because he is an asthmatic.

He said he had not been drinking and committed no offence under the Road Traffic Acts.

Mr McGrath has said he was informed of Mr Shatter's failure to complete the mandatory test by members of the public.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the Tipperary South/West Waterford TD claimed an official garda report is available of Minister Shatter's failure to provide a breath test at a garda checkpoint in Pembroke Street in Dublin.

Mr McGrath also claimed that the gardaí working at the checkpoint on the night in question were left in "quite an upset state because of the nature and the nastiness of the incident and the quite frank refusal" of Mr Shatter.

Despite insisting that there is a garda report of the incident, Mr McGrath said he was not informed of what happened at the checkpoint by the gardaí.

"It's a public place, on a public street in Pembroke, outside a pretty noted restaurant. People are out there smoking on the streets, members of the public are there ... members of the public come to me with huge issues of concern and I check out the facts as best I can."

Mr McGrath said he was in favour of the gardaí exercising discretion, but said that Mr Shatter still has "questions to answer" as it was an offence not to give the gardaí any specimen when required.