Wallace: Legal action against Shatter 'one option'

Independent TD Mick Wallace

Independent Deputy Mick Wallace says legal action against Justice Minister Alan Shatter is "an option" for him, but he hasn't made a decision.

The Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes said last night that Alan Shatter broke the law last year when he stated during a live television debate that the independent TD had been cautioned for using his mobile phone while driving.

The ruling adds to a series of controversies surrounding the justice minister in recent months and comes ahead of the publication into two reports on issues relating to allegations of bugging at the Garda ombudsman’s office and claims of malpractice.

Minister Shatter has 21 days to appeal the ruling to the circuit court and is said to be considering such a move.

Deputy Wallace says 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 last night said Enda Kenny has confidence in Mr Shatter.

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