Alan Shatter Using Confidential Garda Information for Political Ends

Misuse of confidential information by government minister

Let’s get the facts straight.

Alan Shatter, minister for justice, stated on public television that a member of our national parliament had committed a criminal offence.

What criminal offence? you might be wondering.

Why, the criminal offence of holding a phone while driving.

But that’s not a crime, you might say, to which I’ll respond that it most certainly is. A minor criminal offence, admittedly, but a criminal offence nonetheless.

alan shatter gardai

Is that why I’m saying this?  Am I so upset about the assault on Mick Wallace’s good name that I feel compelled to defend him?  No.  Mick can take care of himself.  He’s big and ugly enough.  What bothers me much more is the idea that a justice minister would firstly have access to information about routine police activity, secondly that he would seek to use that privileged information against a political opponent, even if that opponent happens to be an insignificant independent member of the House.  And thirdly, that Alan Shatter of all people, a man who built his name and reputation on issues of human rights law, can see nothing wrong with what he did, or refuses to acknowledge it if he does.

Richard Bruton was on the radio today explaining that it was in the public interest to release this information, while ignoring the fact that, in order for Shatter to have these details  in the first place, somebody must have committed a crime.  Shatter, even in his position as minister, is not entitled to know what takes place between a citizen and the police.  This is privileged information, regardless of whether or not that citizen happens to be an elected member of our national parliament.  Indeed, all the more reason that a government minister should not be made aware of such things.

There are five possibilities.

One: Alan Shatter personally witnessed a policeman stopping Mick Wallace and heard the conversation that ensued.

Two: Mick Wallace told Alan Shatter he had been stopped.

Three: Mick Wallace told somebody else, who passed it on to Alan Shatter.

Four: a witness with exceptionally keen ears overheard a conversation between a policeman and Mick Wallace at the side of the road and passed it on to Alan Shatter or his proxy.

Five: A member of an Garda Síochána informed Alan Shatter or his agent that Mick Wallace had been stopped and warned for holding a mobile phone while driving.

Let’s write off the first four straight away.  What does the fifth option imply?  Simple — some guard has broken the law by revealing sensitive information about a citizen.  Who’d have thought it?  Who could possibly have imagined that a guard might breach confidentiality?  Another first .

Now, you might say that it’s all trivial, and to some extent, I’d agree with you.  Wallace is using the penalty points issue to distract from his own abysmal performance, but at the same time, once Shatter used the secret information, he escalated the issue out of all proportion to the petty squabble it started out as.

Here was a government minister using confidential police information — that he was not entitled to have — in a political manner to silence a member of the national parliament who happens to be criticising the police force.

Forget Mick Wallace and his ridiculous pink t-shirts.  Forget penalty points.  If an intelligent man like Alan Shatter considers it expedient to use confidential information against somebody in a relatively secure position, what will this government do to others who challenge them?

Will silencing a political critic always be in the public interest?  Is it acceptable that the government and the police force should be working hand in hand to stifle criticism?

Where have we seen this before?  Oops!  I think it’s time to worry about the tendencies of this Fine Gael government and this police force.


33 thoughts on “Alan Shatter Using Confidential Garda Information for Political Ends

  1. Police and government work as one.
    That’s the system.
    Governments change, the system remains.

  2. I have a password for the Garda Pulse database if you want to log in and snoop around sometime. PM me.

    Edit: Ok, ok. So it’s PASSWORD123 but you didn’t get it from me.


  3. Who cares,
    Those in Dail Eireann are now morphing into a bag of weasels savaging each other, I say let them get on with it,
    It makes no difference to the guy who is taking a last walk to the riverbank or to the wood with a rope because he cant feed his children, or no difference to the mother who will not send all her children to school this morning because there is not enough food for all their lunches.
    I really hope that there is a next world where these clowns will get their just rewards because they sure wont get them here.

  4. If you’re interested, regardless of what you think of Ger Colleran as a journalist, there’s a podcast with him from the UL Journalism department where he comments on the Gardai questioning him over a certain story involving Cowan a few years back. He compares the incident to another piece of information he has where someone admitted killing someone (IRA).

  5. Shatter was incredibly foolish to divulge his information concerning Wallace on live national television. For a man of his intellect and training I can only surmise that a combination of intellectual snobbery, distain and contempt for the clown sitting beside him in the studio, led to the error.

    Wallace of course being the turd that he is denied any recollection of being cautioned by the police and of course he now has recall of the events. I wonder if Mick can blame passive dope smoking from sitting too close to Ming for his temporary amnesia?
    Shatter made a serious error of judgement. It’s inexcusable but understandable. I hope he doesn’t resign–it would be a travesty. I find Wallace, Ming Flanagan and their ilk a stain on our democracy; and i sincerely hope the stains are removed at the next election. Ultimately Mark’s comment hits the nail on the head.

  6. Alan Shatter’s handling of this matter seems to confirm that the Garda self-examination of the penalty points scandal is a whitewash.He has successfully diverted the focus from Garda corruption to re-focus the attention on Mick Wallace.No one has responded to one of Mick’s observations that the Guards now seem to have just stopped cancelling points for their mates.If what they were doing was legal,why stop it?Mick’s phone issue is actually irrelevant to the question of Garda corruption,the subsequent cover-up and Alan Shatter’s public abuse of his position.Shatter would have to resign in almost any western country,but he can treat the Irish public with contempt as much as he likes and we have little redress.

  7. In the not so distance past, football fans in Limerick were anticipating that Wallace would show for a match.

    He was in the middle of his tax “problems” at the time and fans were aware that because the papers were stalking him that he might just slip into the ground discreetly

    Alas, he never showed.

    Great pity as Limerick fans were planning to leave him all shook up with a rendition of Devil in Disguise by the King.

    You look like a politican.

    Walk like a politician

    But we got wise

    Your just a tax cheat in disguise

    Oh, yes you are…….

  8. I agree that Shatter’s actions were inexcusable–but we must hold everyone to the same standard. How come we are not incensed that Wallace suddenly today could remember the incident which he denied repeatedly happened?.I think that Wallace and Ming et al have worked out that if you look like a hippy and act like a hippy; the public make less demands on integrity because they expect less.

  9. It is fortuitous that this controversy coincides with the launch of the annual report of the Data Protection Commissioner, who must have received more journalistic attention this week than he ever did, and who is cheerfully answering questions confirming that Mick has lodged a complaint that will get due process.

    Bock – I know it isn’t about Mick, but this occurs to me: given that Oireachtas members, as Callelly has shown, can get something like 700 euros annually for their phones – why does Wallace not have a hands-free phone? I’d like to know if he claims the allowance. A fairly basic phone with bluetooth that will sync with a car kit can be had for well under 100 Euros, there’s no excuse.

  10. That’s absolutely correct and we can discuss it under the TDs-breaking-the-law post.

    However, this is the Ministers-using-information-unlawfully post, so we’ll have to wait for that debate.

  11. Bock.
    You are correct to re focus our attention on Shatter,
    What happend on live TV last week is extremely dangerous to a democracy, but realistically this democracy died a long time ago,
    Our national broadcaster seems to be in complete cahoots with government, some members of our police force appear to be likewise very close to Shatter,
    I honestly cant stand that bunch of pretend hippies that were elected and feel that they are a waste of taxpayers money BUT they were elected and the dirty tricks of Shatter and Kenny is as good if not better that the glory days of Haughey, in fact he attempted to hide his little tricks this crowd are so arrogant they wont even try to conceal their tactics.

  12. A fine gael led government, especially with the majority they hold now is always a worry.
    It is a well know fact that this party has a history which showed close links to fascism.
    If was created following a merger between the National centre party and the National Guard (Blueshirts). Not using civil war politics here. These are facts.
    Look who they are linked to in European politics. Fine Gael is a founding member of the European Peoples party.
    You could ask, what’s all this got to do with Shatter using state police force information on a national television station to belittle an opposition TD? Shure its nothing really is it?
    Yes its a small enough incident, but it shows form. Fine Gael form. Remember the Heavy Gang in the eighties?
    And for those of you who will come back with ” They were only in place because of the activities of the Provisional IRA”
    I say bullshit to that notion!
    If you had any left wing tendencies in the 80’s in this country (when we were in the middle of another serious recession) and were seen to express them, the heavy gang knew it and the made sure you knew, they knew it.
    Am I overreacting to a silly little incident? We’ll wait and see.

  13. Mick Wallace has not been convicted through the courts of this crime, so, the information used by Alan Shatter amounted to nothing less than a piece hot gossip. Shatter should never have used this information to slander one of his political opponents and should at least apologise to Wallace and maybe that would be the end of the matter.

    The Gardai decided to issue a caution and that should have been the end of it. But I wonder, what did the gardai have to gain, a promotion maybe?, for passing on this vital piece of info.

  14. The commissioner told him, or was it Batman himself?
    Fucked If I know.

  15. Here is a letter published in today’s Irish Examiner, which quotes the detailed reasons why Alan Shatter felt that Willie O’Dea should resign in 2010:

    Shatter said, back then, that:

    ““What Minister O’Dea admitted yesterday is that he willingly and publicly discussed, for his own electoral gain, confidential information furnished to him by a member of An Garda Síochána. Such conduct is entirely unacceptable by any minister in any Government. Such conduct by a Minister for Defence, part of whose constitutional duty is to secure the security of the State, renders the Minster unfit for Cabinet office.”

    The hypocrisy is galling.

  16. He’s only a snake that Garda Commissioner. Its the first thing that greets you now when you log on to the PULSE system, you acknowledge that by using it you are using it for work purposes, the information is accurate etc etc. He’s the very man threatening Gardai about speaking to their local politicians to vent concerns over station closures and other matters relating to the force. He’s the very man warning Gardai not to talk to the media about crime statistics, on-going investigations and work related topics. And Martin Callinan, the hypocrite, is the very man passing information to our sleazy Minister for Justice to help him get one up on Mick Wallace. Its disgusting. Garda Corruption once again from the top down. And as for Shatter, i despise him.

  17. Hey if ye really want to piss off this shower of con artist bullies, do what I did,
    e-mail your local FG TDs and tell them they are to instruct the local cumann that you do not want any canvassers representing them on your property at the next election.
    I got some really steamed up e-mails in

  18. Some great mud slinging in the Dail today!! Shatter failing to provide a breath specimen, wonder where Mattie McGrath got that information, some pro Fianna Fail Superintendent or Chief Super me thinks. Great to see Shatter getting a taste of his own medicine. Pity he didn’t get the Claire Daly treatment, shackled and hauled down to the local barracks for a breath test, that would be an awful experience for our fine wine and cheese loving minister for justice and erotic literature!! Goes to show, just because it isn’t on PULSE doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

  19. I’m not rejoicing at this. Shatter is one of the most effective justice ministers we’ve had. We don’t need to have him replaced by an idiot.

  20. Good man Mattie,
    Mind you our national broadcaster must be really deep in the jocks of this Government, that should have been a headline story, it must be a case of careful lads or we will re distribute the old TV license to some of the other guys.
    Anyway I am off for a lash of pints now and going to borrow my nephew’s asthma inhaler in case the boys are out with the old blow job thingy
    If the Healy Rea brigade came out with this shit the Dublin hip brigade would have a field day.

  21. An effective justice minister? I personally think he is anything but an effective justice minister.
    He is an arrogant self centred individual who thinks he is above Irish law. Are we to assume now that all asthmatics are not required by law to take the breathalyzer test when requested to do so by a Garda?
    It would also appear that if they are having difficulty with using the breathalyzer, they are not required to attend the nearest Garda station to give a blood sample.
    An effective justice minister he may be when it comes to getting himself off the hook, when he is expected to abide by the same Irish Law the rest of us are required to abide by.

  22. Just on a point of interest:
    If a TD gets pissed as a newt, gets in his car, and kills someone on his way to or from the Dail is he exempt from natural Law ?
    This seems to be pre french revolution shit, or when our english masters ran over the local peasants with their carriges.
    An old guy who was one of Mc Alpines in london in the 60s once told me that the worst boss you could have was an irish boss on the crew.
    Swap boss for TD and think bout it

  23. @Long John Silver. Have a good look at the origins of FF. FF had some nice tulips in its ranks in the 1920s and 1930s. FF had its own paramilitary police force in the 1930s (Broy Harriers) which actually murdered several people. Ever head of the sacking of the RTE authority by FF in the early 1970s? Maybe you should have a good look at how the Haugheyites treated their opponents in FF during the heaves.
    Ever heard of the bugging of Bruce Arnold’s and Geraldine Kennedy phones?
    Shatter should not have thrown muck at Wallace but neither should Mattie McGrath throw muck.
    There is no need to deal with Provisional Sinn Fein. We all know about them.

  24. @ BJ
    What makes you think that I might be a FF supporter. In fact what makes you think, that I would see any difference between FG and FF?
    Back to the Shatter incident. It would appear from some newspaper reports that the guard in question – who actually stopped Shatter, has said that she did present a report of the incident. Why has this report been buried? Why was he not taken to the nearest police station and made to give a blood sample, like I would have to do if I refused to give a breath test?
    These are the important questions that need answering

  25. Shatter pulled a stupid stroke and it backfired. It makes no difference how trivial the original incident was. He misused his position.

    I think he should go, even though I still think he was an able justice minister.

  26. It might have been more then a stupid stroke that backfired.
    He might have been drinking alcohol on the day.
    We will never know, because he abused his position.
    I accept that he was not justice minister at the time.
    But with this kind of form, he was never going to be an able justice minister.

  27. Worth reading the latest update regarding Shatters failure to give a breath test, in todays Irish Indepenent

  28. To be honest though,
    We do deserve what we get, these clowns run rough shod over us and what do we do, we keep on voting in their seed and breed.
    FF brought this country to its knees,as we were down there anyway FG and Lab came along and did some unspeakable stuff to us against our will.
    So what was our response, Ah sure when there was a by election in Meath we voteed in the young wan sure the father was lovely really, always say hello to you when he would meet ya.
    Yerra go on give her the old vote.
    As for poor old Michael Lowery, the most dacent man that ever walked .
    would give ya the shirt off his back (well off someones back anyway)
    So rock on dead head Shatter we loves ya really, and sure if u had a drop taken didnt ya have a hard old day totting up the old expenses.
    Anyway that thick Mick of a guard should have known who he was talking to, he should have been genuflecting at your wing mirror not having the cheek to ask you for a blow job.
    After all we know whos on their knees here and it sure aint you Alan

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