Fitzgerald confirmed as new Justice Minister

Frances Fitzgerald has been appointed as the new Justice Minister after the shock resignation of Alan Shatter over the handling of Garda corruption allegations.

The former social worker and mother-of-three has been elevated from her role as Children’s Minister in a mini-reshuffle of the cabinet sparked by yesterday’s high-profile departure.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised Ms Fitzgerald for her reform children’s rights during her tenure in her previous position.

“I know she will bring the same energy, commitment and reforming zeal to her new role as Minister for Justice and Equality,” he said.

Fine Gael party colleague Charlie Flanagan will take over the Children’s Minister role.

The position of Defence Minister – which was also held by Mr Shatter – will temporarily come under the Taoiseach’s department.

Mr Shatter stood down weeks after the Garda chief Martin Callinan stunned the country with his resignation amid a storm of controversies involving his force.

A report to be published tomorrow into one of the controversies is expected to find Mr Shatter was “inadequate” in his obligation to be independent in his investigation of Garda whistleblower allegations.

“Restoring confidence to the Irish justice now becomes the number one priority for the new Minister,'' Mr Kenny said.

“As a Government we want transparency and accountability at the heart of our public service. It goes to the heart of what we all seek to achieve here in this house in representing the Irish people on a daily basis.”

Mr Kenny reiterated the Government’s commitment to establishing a Garda Authority to work alongside the Garda Ombudsman and Garda Inspectorate in providing oversight for the force.

There was some criticism when defence and justice were originally amalgamated and given to Mr Shatter when the coalition took office in 2011.

Labour welcomed the new appointments today, but Opposition TDs outlined how Mr Shatter's position had been defended for some time by the coalition.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil that “arrogance and unaccountable behaviour” had led to Mr Shatter's resignation and had been the trademarks of the coalition.

Additional reporting by Juno McEnroe, Political Reporter

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