The Minister for Justice in Ireland, Alan Shatter has survived a vote of no confidence tabled by Fianna Fáil late yesterday by a vote of 95-51.
The motion was tabled after a string of controversial incidents under Shatter’s watchful eye including the Garda station tapings and the subsequent resignation of Garda commissioner Martin Callinan.
Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin criticised Shatter for his recent mistakes and blamed him for causing damage to morale in An Garda Síochána.
“From his first days in office he has been incredibly dismissive,” said Martin.
One of Shatter’s cabinet colleagues, Francis Fitzgerald, defended him however, saying “he’s the most reforming Minister for Justice we’ve ever had” and added: “He’s had a huge agenda which he has dealt with very assiduously, terrific reforms in Justice that have been lying around waiting to happen for 30 years in my view.”
Amongst the hate mail Shatter has been receiving as of late was a package containing a white powder, with a Nazi photograph and Swastika emblem attached.
The bomb disposal team was called to the home before the powder was identified as merely baking powder, though the sinister tone of the Nazi photograph, depicting soldiers at a Nazi rally.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny condemned the anti-semitic package, and deplored such actions just because Alan Shatter is Jewish.
“This morning at the home of the Minister for Justice, an item arrived by post, which contained anti-Semitic material and a substance which analysed turned out to be harmless.
The minister is in the house a long time. Members of the Jewish faith have been members of the Fianna Fail party, the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party. This has sunk to a new low,” he said.
“Irrespective of the normal rough and tumble here in politics, we can all deplore that. It is not in order that anti-Semitic material is being received by the minister who just happens to be a member of a particular faith,” finished the Taoiseach.
Garda Commissioner Resigns
On March 25th, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned after massive pressure over the last two months due to his controversial appearance at the Public Accounts Committee.
His comments there sparked outrage when he called the actions of whistleblowers who disseminated sensitive date downloaded from the Pulse system “disgusting”.
In a statement Mr. Callinan said: “I felt that recent developments were proving to be a distraction from the important work that is carried out by An Garda Síochána on a daily basis for the citizens of the State in an independent and impartial manner.”
The under-fire Minister for Justice Alan Shatter praised the work Callinan has done during his 40 years in the force saying:
“I wish to pay tribute to the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, on his retirement from An Garda Síochána.
“As Commissioner and throughout his very distinguished service in the Force he has made an enormous contribution to fighting crime and I believe that this contribution will be seen as a legacy of which he can be very proud and for which the community he served are in his debt.
“The high reputation of An Garda Síochána has been gained down through the years through people’s experience of dealing with members like Martin Callinan, often at times of great difficulty.
“I believe, at these challenging times for the Force, the men and women who serve in it will continue to enjoy the respect of the community they serve, often at great risk to themselves.
“I extend to him my sincere thanks for his dedication and service to the State throughout his long and distinguished career.”
Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin T.D.s were in unison in calling for Shatter to follow Callinan in stepping down also.
The government has also published a letter which was written by then commissioner Callinan, written on March 10th, where he reveals and details the controversial phone recordings at certain Garda stations to the Department of Justice.