Alan Shatter: 'It would be complete insanity if we found ourselves in the middle of a general election'

The former justice minister spoke to Pat Kenny as the Tánaiste faces increasing calls to resign

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10:56 28 Nov 2017 Stephen McNeice 10:56 Tuesday 28 November 2017

Former justice minister Alan Shatter says it would be "complete insanity" if we end up facing a general election later today.

Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin are meeting again for talks today, in a last-ditch effort to avoid an election over the latest Garda whistleblowing controversy.

It emerged yesterday that Tánaiste and then justice minister Frances Fitzgerald received additional emails detailing the proposed "aggressive" Garda legal strategy against whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Fianna Fáil’s motion of no confidence in the Tánaiste is due to be debated tonight.

The opposition party says her resignation would negate the motion - but senior members of Fine Gael have continued to say the country's deputy leader shouldn't resign.

A vote in favour of the no confidence motion, meanwhile, would see the collapse of the confidence & supply agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil - a development that would effectively force a general election.

Alan Shatter resigned in 2014 in the wake of the Guerin report into allegations made by Sgt McCabe - although he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing by the later O'Higgins report.

The Court of Appeal last year also decided Mr Shatter should have been asked for his version of events before Sean Guerin concluded he had not adequately handled allegations of Garda misconduct made by Sgt McCabe.

"The need for fair hearings"

Mr Shatter spoke to Pat Kenny today over the current controversy facing the Government.

He suggested: "My Fine Gael colleagues of many years have been rightly - and I agree with them - talking about due process, and the need for fair hearings, and people not being convicted by kangaroo courts."

However, he added: "I made a speech to that effect in June 2014 in the Dáil after Sean Guerin criticised and condemned me without a fair hearing, without asking me questions. For three years, my colleagues have ignored what I had to say about that - I had to fight a battle through the courts for more than three years.

"There's an enormous hypocrisy in what is now being focused on in recent days by my Fine Gael colleagues, in circumstances where the Taoiseach's department is now funding an appeal to the Supreme Court against a Court of Appeal decision which concluded I wasn't granted a fair hearing."

On the Tánaiste's current situation, her former cabinet colleague claimed she does have a 'significant problem'.

He observed: "The problem is... whereas I got into trouble for telling the Dáil the truth, it now appears that the Dáil has not been told the full detail of the nature of the documentation that she received, and the briefings that took place."

Despite that observation, he also stressed: "I'm not going to call for the resignation of a former colleague. I'm simply deeply cynical, from my own personal experience, of what's being said about due process. In the context of the circumstances, as we now know it after last night, that's a matter between her and Leo Varadkar... and a matter between Frances Fitzgerald and the rest of the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

"I do think in the context of the circumstances that we find ourselves in as a result of Brexit, it would be complete insanity if we found ourselves later today in the middle of a general election."

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