Alan Shatter has warned that the Minister for Transport is “contaminating” Fine Gael.
On Newstalk Breakfast, the Former Justice Minister accused Shane Ross of pulling a political stroke over the reopening of Stepaside Garda Station.
The government has come under pressure in recent days to explain how the decision was taken to re-open the station – ahead of others also recommended by the gardaí.
Last week, the Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin told the Public Accounts Committee that the government set the criteria for which stations should be re-opened – and had made the decision to reopen Stepaside.
Minister Ross has long campaigned for the station – situated in his own constituency – to be brought back into service.
Shane Ross addresses a rally protesting the closure of Stepaside Garda Station, 03-02-2013. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews
Mr Shatter said that the coalition with Minister Ross is doing Fine Gael harm:
“I feel less constrained, not being a member of the Dáil, than perhaps the current members of the parliamentary party are,” he said.
“What differentiates Fine Gael, to me, from other parties is its commitment to truth, decency and integrity and its opposition to stroke politics.
“Shane Ross is contaminating – the politics of Shane Ross – is contaminating the ethos of Fine Gael and I am afraid what happened in relation to Stepaside [...] is entirely wrong.
“It is the wrong way to be dealing with garda matters at a time when there are major issues to be addressed within the garda force.”
He said he believes the gardaí were “put into a space where there was only one recommendation they could produce.”
“I have no time for the sort of politics in which people’s fears and genuine concerns are exploited and then mislead for electoral gain,” he said.
“As everyone knows, Shane Ross led a campaign to reopen the station.
“We heard yesterday from Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll that the gardaí were furnished with a set of criteria to consider reopening garda station which rendered it inevitable that a recommendation would be made to reopen Stepaside.”
You can listen back to the full exchange with Paul Williams Here: