Belfast Telegraph

Dublin's Justice Minister Alan Shatter may be next to fall on his sword

By Fionnan Sheahan, Tom Brady & Dearbhail McDonald

After the Garda chief fell on his sword, the Irish Justice Minister is fighting for his survival in the wake of the bombshell revelations that have rocked the gardai and Government.

Alan Shatter is facing serious questions about his level of knowledge of thousands of secret recordings of calls to and from Garda stations which went on from the 1980s to last November. The minister said he only learned of the practice on Monday – even though senior officials in his department were told two weeks ago.

The Government's legal adviser, Attorney General Maire Whelan, was told last November about the affair.

Mr Shatter will be in the spotlight today in a special Dail debate on the various Garda controversies, during which he is expected to withdraw comments he made against Garda whistleblowers.

The biggest crisis to hit the gardai in three decades since a previous commissioner resigned over the bugging of journalists' phones has resulted in an inquiry that aims to establish the extent of the damage caused to the criminal justice system by the recordings.

Former commissioner Patrick McLaughlin resigned in 1983.

The grave consequences of the taping by gardai were set out by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who admitted the tapes could have a "potential impact" on past, present and future court cases.

The Commission of Investigation will ascertain if calls between solicitors and their clients and gardai discussing investigations were among thousands of conversations secretly recorded.

The new inquiry will examine close to 2,500 recordings catalogued at Garda Headquarters.

Garda left in turmoil after Republic's top cop Martin Callinan quits over bugging controversy 

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