Shatter resigns; Taoiseach to announce replacement within 24 hours

Alan Shatter has resigned as Minister for Justice after a series of scandals related to complaints from a Garda whistleblower dogged his last few months in office.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has confirmed it in the Dáil saying he had resigned after getting the report of Seán Guerin into Sergeant Maurice McCabe's allegations.

The 300-page independent review of allegations of wrongdoing and malpractice in the force has found inadequate investigation and analysis of the issues raised by serving Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

In his resignation letter (below) Mr Shatter said: "I am anxious that any controversy that may arise on publication of the report does not distract from the important work of the Government or create any difficulties for the Fine Gael or Labour parties in the period leading in the European and local government elections.

“It is my judgment that the only way in which such controversy can be avoided is by my offering you my resignation.”

The report on the McCabe affair is to be published on Friday morning.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Shatter resigned after the report found him to be “inadequate” in his obligation to be independent in his investigation of the whistleblower allegations.

“The Minister having read the report and considered its implications has sent me his resignation which I have accepted with regret,” he said.

Mr Kenny said he did not demand Mr Shatter’s resignation and added that he was not expecting anyone else to stand down over the controversy.

The Government is now expected to set up a full-scale State inquiry into the affair.

Mr Kenny says he will announce Mr Shatter's replacement in Cabinet later this evening or tomorrow morning.

He explained why Mr Shatter decided to go after reading the Guerin report into Garda misconduct from the Maurice McCabe dossier.

It comes as Mick Wallace considers legal action against Mr Shatter after the Data Protection Commissioner last night found that the former Justice Minister broke the law last year with comments about the independent TD.

Mr Wallace had called for Mr Shatter to stand down and said the Taoiseach and Labour's continuing defence of Mr Shatter was undermining their own support among the public.

Deputy Wallace had said he wants to know if what the Minister did is acceptable.

"Is it ok if the Minister for Justice of the day is allowed to break the law, be it a civil law, and remain in office?" he said.

"If anyone had put it to the Taoiseach five or six years ago when he was in opposition he would have laughed and said 'Why in God's name are you asking me that? Fine Gael are the party of law and order'."

The Data Protection Commissioner's ruling relates to a RTÉ Prime Time programme last year, when Mr Shatter and Mr Wallace appeared alongside each other to debate the penalty points issue.

Mr Shatter revealed information which he said he received verbally from the then garda commissioner, Martin Callinan.

The data protection commissioner found that Mr Callinan did not breach the act, but that the minister was bound by “obligations of non-disclosure” of “personal data”.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach had last night said Enda Kenny has confidence in Mr Shatter.

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