As the Taoiseach knows, on 15 May the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, received a report from the Garda Commissioner in regard to allegations that were made concerning the improper cancellation of fixed charge notices. That report found no evidence of criminality in that area but, subsequently, on "Prime Time", in a debate with Deputy Mick Wallace, and even though he was armed with the facts of the report, the Minister, Deputy Shatter, decided to use private information supplied to him by An Garda Síochána about Deputy Wallace in an attempt to undermine him in a political debate on the issue.
Fundamentally, this action represents an abuse of power and the office the Minister holds. The position of Minister for Justice is a very powerful and sensitive one. As the Data Protection Commissioner said, there is a solemn duty on behalf of such a Minister, indeed all Ministers, to hold such information as he or she receives privately with the greatest of respect and to treat it properly and honourably. The use of this private information on a Deputy to undermine him in a debate is fundamentally wrong. It represents the politicisation of An Garda Síochána which is also reprehensible. The Minister has crossed the line and shown contempt for democratic norms. He publicly set very rigorous standards in this area some years back when he said such behaviour in disclosing Garda information publicly by any Minister in any Government was entirely unacceptable. The Taoiseach has compounded the problem by endorsing the Minister's misbehaviour. There seems to be a reluctance on his or the Minister's behalf to accept that what the Minister did was wrong. He does not seem to get to the core of the issue. Will the Taoiseach outline to the House how this private information on an incident that occurred over 12 months ago found its way to the Minister last week? Are there files in existence in which such information is kept and stored for use eventually? Does the Taoiseach accept that the use by the Minister of private information supplied to him by An Garda Síochána to undermine a political opponent was wrong?