Belfast Telegraph

Shatter chemical threat a hoax

Army bomb experts were called to the home of Ireland's Justice Minister Alan Shatter to deal with an anti-semitic hoax chemical threat.

A suspicious package containing white powder and racist abuse was delivered to the Fine Gael politician's house in south Dublin early this morning.

It was quickly declared a hoax and the suburban neighbourhood was declared safe at about 10.45am after a full-scale security operation.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the threat as a "new low" in Irish politics which, he said, has seen Jewish representatives for most of the mainstream parties down the years.

"This morning, at the home of the Minister for Justice, an incident occurred where an item in the post contained some anti-Semitic material and a substance which, when analysed, was harmless," he told the Dail.

Mr Kenny added that a "stream of similar material" has also been sent to the Department of Justice. Gardai are investigating the incident.

Last year, Mr Shatter was targeted by anti-semitic posters in Limerick, reportedly posted by a far-right extremist group.

The Justice Minister has come under huge political pressure in recent weeks over a number of controversies involving the Garda and his role in them.

Last week, force chief Martin Callinan stood down as the country's most senior police officer after dramatic revelations of a secret system recording telephone calls at Garda stations since the 1980s.

It is feared the taped conversations could threaten the outcome of past and present court cases, as well as the findings of long-running State inquiries.

A legal action by former English journalist Ian Bailey for wrongful arrest in the investigation into the 1996 murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork exposed the recording system.

Manchester-born Mr Bailey was twice arrested for questioning in connection with the murder but never charged. He has always denied involvement.

A State inquiry has been launched into the recordings.

Two other investigations into the suspected bugging of the official Garda watchdog's headquarters and whistleblower allegations of wrongdoing within the force are expected to be completed later this month.

Two days have been set aside in the Dail to hear debates on a vote of no confidence in Mr Shatter.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph