Alan Shatter

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Alan Shatter
TD
Alan Shatter.jpg
Minister for Justice and Equality
In office
9 March 2011 – 7 May 2014
Preceded by Brendan Smith (Justice and Law Reform)
Succeeded by Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Defence
In office
9 March 2011 – 7 May 2014
Preceded by Éamon Ó Cuív
Succeeded by Enda Kenny (acting)
Teachta Dála
Incumbent
Assumed office
24 May 2007
In office
11 June 1981 – 17 May 2002
Constituency Dublin South
Personal details
Born Alan Joseph Shatter
(1951-02-14) 14 February 1951 (age 63)
Dublin, Ireland
Political party Fine Gael
Spouse(s) Carol Ann Danker
Children 2
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Religion Judaism
Website www.alanshatter.com

Alan Joseph Shatter (born 14 February 1951) is an Irish Fine Gael politician. He is a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South constituency. After 30 years as a parliamentarian without ministerial office he became Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence in March 2011 but resigned in May 2014.[1]

Background and early life[edit]

Born in Dublin to a Jewish family, Shatter is the son of Elaine and Reuben Shatter, an English couple who met by chance when they were both on holidays in Ireland in 1948.[2][3] He was educated at The High School, Dublin and Trinity College, Dublin. He has been to Israel a number of times, including to work on a kibbutz as a young man.[4]

Shatter has lived most of his life in Dublin — he grew up in Rathgar and Rathfarnham and lives now in Ballinteer with his wife, Carol Ann (Danker) Shatter, and two children.[5] He is the only Jewish member of Dáil Éireann.

Business interests[edit]

Shatter owns several properties in the United States. He has been involved in an eviction row with a tenant of one of his properties in Florida. With interests in fifteen properties, Shatter had the largest property portfolio of any member of Ireland's cabinet.[6]

Political career[edit]

Dáil politics (1981–2011)[edit]

Shatter was first elected to the Dáil at the 1981 general election, and was re-elected at each subsequent election until he lost his seat at the 2002 general election. He was re-elected at the 2007 general election.[7] Shatter was a member of Dublin County Council from 1991 to 1999 for the Rathfarnham area.

Having a legal background, Shatter has proposed much legislation during his time as a TD. While in opposition, he published more Private member's bills than any other TD had done previously. His bills were successful in making changes in areas such as health, sport and justice, with the government often amending bills that he brought forward and adopting them as their own. Even prior to becoming a member of the Oireachtas, Shatter satirised some of the measures inherent within a 1979 Family Planning bill in the form of his nationally published booklet, "Family Planning – Irish Style".

During the 1980s Shatter successfully lobbied for the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was a member of the Committee from its foundation in 1992, apart from a brief period in 1993 to 1994, and its chairman from December 1996 to June 1997.

During a period in 1993 to 1994 he was removed by party leader John Bruton as a disciplinary measure for breaking the party whip. This was occasioned by his voting in the Dáil in favour of a Bill to ban live hare coursing. Shatter was president of the Irish Council against Blood Sports for a time.

During his time in the Dáil, he has been a Fine Gael Front Bench spokesperson on Law Reform (1982, 1987–88); the Environment (1989–91); Labour (1991); Justice (1992–93); Equality and Law Reform (1993–94); Health and Children (1997–2000); Justice, Law Reform and Defence (2000–02); Children (2007–10); and Justice and Law Reform (2010–11).

During his time out of politics after losing his seat at the 2002 general election, he practised as a solicitor and was a partner of the firm Gallagher Shatter. Among his professional affiliations, he is a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

During the 2009 Gaza War, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh claimed that Shatter and the Israeli ambassador to Ireland had exposed the Oireachtas committee on Foreign Affairs to "propaganda, twisted logic and half truths". Ó Snodaigh also said that Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, would have been proud of it.[8] In February 2009, during a sitting of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs concerning the Gaza conflict, Shatter clashed verbally with Professor Ilan Pappé, Professor of History at the University of Exeter, accusing Pappé of biased scholarship and historical inaccuracies.[9]

Minister for Justice and Minister for Defence (2011–2014)[edit]

On 9 March 2011, Shatter was appointed Minister for Justice and Equality and also Minister for Defence in Enda Kenny's cabinet. In May that year, he made a public statement in support of the RTÉ "Mission to Prey" Prime Time programme that defamed a priest which he later backtracked on.[10] That June, he apologised for "unfair and inaccurate" comments he made about RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds after saying he "consistently engages in tabloid sensationalism".[10][11] When eight former attorneys general criticised the proposed Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution on Oireachtas inquiries he described their views as "nonsense" and "simply wrong".[10]

One of Alan Shatter first tasks as new Minister of Justice in 2011 was dealing with the scandals of child abuse involving the Catholic church. Shortly after taking office, the Cloyne report which had been commissioned by the previous government to investigate clerical sex abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, was released. In response to this report and several other sex abuse scandals, the Fine Gael–Labour government announced controversial plans to criminalise failure to report an allegation of child abuse. Seán Brady, the Catholic primate of all Ireland, condemned this as compromising the Seal of the Confessional.

Alan Shatter also introduced Citizenship ceremonies where new citizens swear an oath to the state and obtain their certificate of citizenship. The first ceremony was held in the Dublin Castle on 24 June 2011 with 73 new citizens in attendance.

On 3 March 2012, a convicted Garda killer escaped from low security open detention centre Loughan House in County Cavan, and fled across the border into Northern Ireland. Shatter later apologised and said "it should not have occurred."[12]

On the night of 18 March 2012, there was a break-in at Shatter's home in Ballinteer, Dublin.[13]

On 15 May 2013, Shatter criticised whistleblowers alleging widespread corruption in the Garda Síochána regarding the cancellation of penalty points. An investigation by the Garda Síochána into its own affairs proved that the allegations of corruption were correct. After several weeks of silence, Shatter publicly apologized to both of the whistleblowers in Dáil Éireann.[14][15]

GSOC Bugging Affair[edit]

In February 2014, the Irish edition of The Sunday Times' ran a series of stories claiming that the offices of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) had been bugged with a variety of highly sophisticated bugging equipment available only to government-level actors. GSOC's sole responsibility is to investigate wrongdoing in the Irish police force, the Garda Síochána, and there was widespread speculation that the Garda, or some rogue members or former members were responsible for the bugging to forestall investigations. John Mooney, the journalist who wrote the story explicitly linked the bugging to GSOC's investigation of Garda handling of the case of Kieran Boylan, the convicted drug-runner who was assisted by gardaí in obtaining a passport, a haulage licence and had a prosecution for drug running terminated in extraordinary circumstances. Mooney reported that GSOC called in a specialist British counter-surveillance firm after a senior Garda, in a meeting with GSOC, let slip that he knew of information which GSOC staff had discussed including in a report, but had not actually included.

Shatter, as justice minister, has responsibility for both the Garda and GSOC. Statements he made in the aftermath of the revelation were sharply critical of GSOC, and made almost no mention of Garda behaviour. Shatter both questioned the conclusion that GSOC offices were bugged, and criticised it for not informing him of the bugging. He suggested GSOC offices had not bugged at all, suggesting that the source of the anomalies found was a WiFi signal from a nearby café, and he said that the Garda had been subjected to “baseless innuendo”.[16][17]

Connections with Oliver Connolly[edit]

Shatter appointed his campaign donor Oliver Connolly as the Garda Confidential Recipient, an office intended to receive complaints of wrongdoing confidentially from gardaí who have evidence of malpractice in the force. In February 2014, a transcript of a conversation between Connolly and Sergeant Maurice McCabe, a whistleblower emerged. In it, Connolly appeared to be repeatedly telling McCabe not to take any steps that would lead to the publication of wrongdoing that he was reporting. Connolly is quoted as saying “I’ll tell you something Maurice and this is just personal advice to you. If Shatter thinks your [sic] screwing him, you’re finished ... If Shatter thinks it’s you, if he thinks or is told by the Commissioner or the Gardaí here’s this guy again trying another route trying to put pressure on, he’ll go after you.”[18] On 5 February 2014 these comments were read into the Dáil record by Mick Wallace, the independent TD.[19]

Following the emergence of the GSOC bugging controversy, these comments were featured more prominently in news media. On 19 February, Shatter sacked Connolly as Garda Confidential Recipient.[20]

Guerin Report and resignation[edit]

On 7 May 2014, Shatter resigned as Minister for Justice and Equality and as Minister for Defence following receipt of the report of Seán Guerin into allegations made by Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe.[21]

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mr. Alan Shatter". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 7 November 2009. 
  2. ^ "Shatter: They still tell me to go back where I came from. So do they mean Rathgar?". Irish Independent. 28 January 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/colourful-past-of-minister-shatter-wrought-from-sense-of-loss-30054096.html
  4. ^ http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-may-finally-have-some-luck-with-the-irish/#ixzz2yBxZ4Wc9 Israel may finally have some luck with the Irish
  5. ^ Introducing Ireland: a serious visitor's guide with biographies of over 700 leaders, Mercier Press, 1992.
  6. ^ "Shatter in bid to evict tenant from US home over rent row". Irish Independent. 17 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Alan Shatter". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 7 November 2009. 
  8. ^ "Israeli envoy condemns TD's 'outrageous' Goebbels remark". The Irish Times. 14 January 2009. 
  9. ^ "Israeli-born academic clashes with Shatter over Gaza violence". The Irish Times. 12 February 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c "Shatter in U-turn on his 'rash' support for Prime Time". Irish Independent. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011. 
  11. ^ Mary Minihan; Noel Dundon (17 June 2011). "Shatter criticises RTÉ reporter". The Irish Times. Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "Shatter apologises for prisoner escape". Irish Examiner. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Break-in at Irish justice minister Alan Shatter's home". BBC News. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Lally, Conor (16 May 2013). "Allegations of widespread Garda corruption on penalty points dimissed in new report". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Labour 'satisfied' with Dail Shatter response". Irish Independent. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  16. ^ http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/bugging-of-gsoc-office-may-have-been-authorised-258634.html
  17. ^ http://www.rte.ie/news/primetime/2014/0214/504433-prime-time-14th-february/
  18. ^ http://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/02/18/garda-confidential-2/
  19. ^ http://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/02/06/hell-go-after-you/
  20. ^ http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/0220/505471-gardai-have-nowhere-to-turn-whistleblower/
  21. ^ "Minister for Justice Alan Shatter resigns". Irish Times. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 

External links[edit]

Oireachtas
New constituency Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Dublin South
19812002
Succeeded by
Eamon Ryan
(Green Party)
Preceded by
Liz O'Donnell
(Progressive Democrats)
Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Dublin South
2007–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Brendan Smith
as Minister for Justice and Law Reform
Minister for Justice and Equality
2011–2014
Succeeded by
Frances Fitzgerald
Preceded by
Éamon Ó Cuív
Minister for Defence
2011–2014
Succeeded by
Enda Kenny
(acting)