Garda chief was 'shafted' by Minister, claims Opposition

By Juno McEnroe, Political Reporter

Opposition TDs have opened their debate on Justice Minister Alan Shatter with attacks on his character and claims that the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was "shafted" to save the Minister's political skin.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin joined forces this evening for the two-day motion of no confidence against Minister Shatter.

This is the second time Mr Shatter has faced such a debate in the Dáil in just one year.

He faced claims last night that his administration of the Department of Justice was a "shambles" and that he was just moving from crisis to crisis.

Fianna Fáil Limerick TD Niall Collins said that garda tapes scandal had “conveniently” come out of nowhere last week and surprised everybody just when Minister Shatter was in the dock over several issues.

“Who knew what and when isn't clear,” he said.

“The public are appalled at the public shafting of the [garda] commissioner and the commissioner was shafted to save your skin.”

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that the State's handling of a compensation case, being pursued by the Ian Bailey, would damage Ireland's reputation.

This was due to information now in the hands of the French authorities, who are carrying out their own investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald warned that the garda's authority had been damaged and the credibility of Mr Shatter was now set at zero.

The debate came after the Cabinet earlier today discussed terms for the setting up of a Commission of Investigation into the secret taping of phone calls in and out of garda stations over decades.

It also emerged that at least 84 prisoners have had their phone calls with lawyers recorded while in jail.

The debate on Mr Shatter will continue tomorrow evening when a vote will be held in the Dáil.

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