FINE Gael mounted a strong defence of Justice Minister Alan Shatter when Fianna Fail launched a blistering attack on the minister and his record at this Monday’s county council meeting.
“I think this Minister is doing an outstanding job given the resources given to him,” Cllr Liam Galvin (FG) said as he and his party colleagues sought to defend their minister. And he pointed to the reckless mismanagement which had brought this country to its knees.
“This is the first time a party in this council has called on a minister to step aside,” Fine Gael leader John Sheahan said, accusing Fianna Fail of getting “carried away” after “one little bit of bounce in the polls”.
“I reject this motion out of hand,” he continued, pointing out that Minister Shatter did not have all the time and all the wherewithal he might have liked. And he criticised Fianna Fail for their lack of contriteness in the face of their past sins. .
The debate was sparked by a motion from Fianna Fail’s Cllr Eddie Wade called on Minister Shatter to “consider his position as minister due to the low morale in An Garda Siochana, spate of robberies, kidnappings and killings and the fear among people living in isolated areas because of the closure of Garda stations throughout the country.”
“The public is very annoyed with the present Minister for Justice,” Cllr Wade said. “I don’t think this Minister has his ear to the ground. I think he is far removed from rural Ireland.”
CLlr Eddie Ryan (FF) contended the minister was trying “to hide behind the Garda Commissioner” and hadn’t taken responsibility for his own actions. “He seems to have someone else to blame all the time,” he said, before adding: “His own team doesn’t believe him.”
Cllr Michael Collins (FF) argued that Garda morale had never been so low and accused the Minister and Fine Gael of being “out of touch”.
Cllr Brigid Teefy argued that “smarter policing” was not working in rural Ireland while Cllr Kevin Sheahan reminded Fine Gael that there was a precedent for calling on a Minister to resign.. “I called on Mary Harney as Minister for Health to resign,” he pointed out.
“I am very disappointed by the reaction of a couple of members of this council,” Cllr Wade said as the debate ended. “I didn’t make this political.” The motion was defeated by 15 votes to eight with Fine Gael and Labour voting against,