Confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality; and Defence: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Niall Collins on Tuesday, 1 April 2014:
That Dáil Éireann has no confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality and Minsiter for Defence, Deputy Alan Shatter.
The debate resumed on amendment No.1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“commends the Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence, Deputy Alan Shatter, on the extensive and ongoing programme of modernisation and reform being led by him across all of his areas of ministerial responsibility;
supports, in particular, the Minister’s major programme of reform to the criminal and civil law, including the:
— Personal Insolvency Act 2012 and the establishment by the Minister of the Insolvency Service of Ireland to fundamentally reform the State’s insolvency and bankruptcy law to support people experiencing severe financial difficulties;
— Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011, a far-reaching and overdue reform of the regulation of the legal profession;
— Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill 2014 to strengthen and enhance Ireland’s institutions for protection of equality and human rights;
— extremely significant Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill 2013, which will provide for a DNA database, to assist the Garda Síochána in the investigation of serious crime and in identifying serial offenders across a broad range of types of criminality;
— Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 to clarify the right of a person to use reasonable force to defend themselves in their home;
— Criminal Justice Act 2011 to provide improved powers for the Garda Síochána in combating white collar crime;
— proposed Child and Family Relationships Bill 2014 to significantly reform family law and the protection of children in a range of family forms;
— Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 dealing with the disclosure of information about serious offences committed against children or vulnerable adults;
— National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 to provide a mandatory vetting system for persons working with children or vulnerable adults;
— Fines (Payment and Recovery) Bill 2013 providing for a new payment and recovery system, including the introduction of attachment of earnings for unpaid fines, in keeping with a commitment in the Programme for Government;
— Twenty-ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Judges’ Remuneration) Act 2011 to enable salary reductions to be applied to the Judiciary;
— Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution to establish a Court of Appeal which will be one of the most significant developments in the justice system since the foundation of the State, leading to efficiencies and improved access to justice;
— Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013, which introduced mechanisms for the attendance of the press in certain circumstances to shed light on family law and child care proceedings, provisions for the appointment of extra jurors in lengthy complex criminal trials, and to permit the appointment of two additional Supreme Court judges to tackle the delay in cases before that Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal;
— Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Act 2013 to provide for a pardon and apology for the 5,000 Irish soldiers who fought for the Allies in World War II;
— Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011, which promotes the use of community service rather than imprisonment in appropriate cases;
— Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013 to strengthen the law in relation to the important issue of human trafficking and provide for the first time a definition of ‘forced labour’ in Irish legislation;
— Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012, which facilitates the rehabilitation of offenders; and
— work underway to bring forward further legislation in such important and diverse fields as the law on criminal procedure, sexual offences, corruption, child and family law, civil liability, immigration, residence and protection, mediation, and land and tenant law;
looks forward to further legislative reforms in these and other areas;
welcomes the reduction of 6.6% in recorded crimes in 2013 and the 16% overall reduction in recorded crimes since 2010;
welcomes the securing, in consultation with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, of sanction to commence the first Garda recruitment since 2009 and €19 million investment in new Garda vehicles;
notes secured agreement for targeted Garda strength of 13,000;
notes the steps taken by the Minister to develop and implement proposals to bring into effect the Charities Act 2009, including the establishment of the new independent regulatory body, the charities regulatory authority, during 2014;
supports further measures underway to modernise the courts system, including planning for a new Family Court and a review of the judicial appointments process;
welcomes the work under way to prepare the wording for the proposed constitutional amendment relating to marriage equality;
acknowledges the establishment by the Minister of the Property Services Regulatory Authority to set and enforce standards in the provision of property services and to provide redress mechanisms for consumers;
acknowledges the ongoing initiatives of the Minister and the Garda Síochána in tackling crime and improving community safety, noting in particular the continued success of Operation Fiacla in tackling burglary;
notes the successes of actions taken against organised crime in the State, resulting in significant drug, illicit tobacco and laundered fuel seizures;
supports the Minister’s ongoing and significant programme of investment in, and reform of, the prison system and the sentencing and management of offenders, including:
— introducing structured programmes of temporary release, including the community return programme and community support schemes which have achieved 90% compliance rates;
— requiring the courts to consider community service options for non-violent and less serious offenders;
— the introduction of an incentivised regimes scheme to incentivise better behaviour by prisoners;
— a programme to end the practice of sending children to St. Patrick’s Institution;
— the reduction in the number of committals to prisons by 7.6% since 2011 and the average daily numbers of prisoners by 5.8% in 2013;
— the provision of additional prison spaces and the upgrading of existing prison facilities including the provision of in-cell sanitation resulting in a 70% reduction in the number of prisoners without such facilities since 2011; and
— the improvement of the independent oversight of prisons and of prisoner complaints mechanisms and the establishment of the Penal Policy Review Group;
commends the Minister’s ongoing engagement with his counterparts in Northern Ireland and Britain in maintaining resolute opposition to the criminal terrorists opposed to peace on the island, and in developing and enhancing North-South co-operation in criminal justice and policing with the aim of improving community safety on the island of Ireland;
recognises the contribution of the Minister at an EU level in the field of justice and home affairs and defence, and in particular in the course of the Irish Presidency, the important progress made in such areas as data protection, measures to tackle organised crime, drugs and terrorism, cyber-security and action taken to address across the EU xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia;
welcomes the streamlined immigration and citizenship procedures in order to support the State’s economic recovery and promote better integration for non-nationals resident here, noting in particular:
— the immigrant investor and start-up entrepreneur programmes;
— the new visa waiver programme;
— a historic Inter-Governmental agreement with the UK on the operation of the common travel area leading to the development of ground-breaking reciprocal visa arrangements; and
— the clearing of the backlog of 22,000 applications for citizenship, the new citizenship ceremony and the granting of citizenship to 68,000 applicants;
commends the Minister’s initiative to establish the Inter-Departmental Committee, chaired by Senator Martin McAleese, to investigate and to set out the facts of the State’s involvement with the Magdalen laundries, his decision to establish a scheme to provide supports for the women involved, to accept the recommendations of Mr. Justice Quirke in that regard, and the work which is under way to implement those recommendations, with priority being given to processing applications and making lump sum payments;
approves the Minister’s commitment to the refugee resettlement programme, despite the challenging economic circumstances, and notes the Minister’s initiative to establish the Syrian humanitarian admission programme;
welcomes publication by the Minister of a Green Paper on Defence in 2013;
commends the Minister on the significant achievements made in overseeing the development of a newly organised Defence Forces, stabilising the strength of those forces at 9,500; securing sanction for recruitment to achieve this; and in particular targeting female recruits and recognising the changing nature of Irish society generally;
welcomes the priority assigned to funding and support for key equipment requirements, with the first of two new naval vessels due for delivery in the coming weeks;
supports Ireland’s continued representation in a range of UN peacekeeping missions with over 400 personnel deployed in 14 locations;
notes the major re-organisation of the Reserve Defence Forces initiated by the Minister, delivering significant efficiencies and dovetailing with the re-organised Permanent Defence Force;
recognises the Minister’s very active approach to emergency planning through his chairmanship of the Government task force, with the Office of Emergency Planning being central to the response to recent emergency events, including flooding and severe weather;
recognises the comprehensive steps being taken to address issues of concern which have arisen;
approves the Minister’s decision to request the Garda Inspectorate to examine and report on the fixed charge processing system and welcomes the decision by the Government to implement all of the 37 recommendations contained in its report;
welcomes and awaits the outcome of independent reviews of certain allegations of wrongdoing in relation to the Garda Síochána and in relation to allegations of surveillance of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission;
notes the Government’s announcement of a commission of investigation in relation to the recording of phone calls in Garda stations;
notes the Government’s commitment to the reform of Garda oversight and accountability, which will include the establishment of an independent Garda authority, appropriate to Ireland’s needs and which will maintain appropriate democratic accountability to the Houses of the Oireachtas;
notes the intention of the Minister, in co-operation with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, to enhance the legislative arrangements for whistleblowing in the Garda Síochána;
notes that arrangements will be put in place for an open competition for a permanent appointment to the post of Garda Commissioner as soon as possible;
welcomes consideration by the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality of the powers of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission;
welcomes the review of the Garda Síochána which is currently under way under the Haddington Road agreement; and
expresses full confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence, Deputy Alan Shatter.
- (Minister for Justice and Equality)

Deputies Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett have two minutes each. The Deputies can decide the speaking order themselves.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle. I did not think we were here to talk about why the Minister for Finance should resign but he is the most senior Minister here. This is meant to be about the Minister ---

I hope Deputy Flanagan does very well in the European elections.

---for Justice and Equality. Before the current Minister came to power, I would have imagined that the Molloy family, relations of Father Niall Molloy, would have been rather excited at the prospect of what the Minister would do and the fact that he would deal with this case. He met with members of the Molloy family before he became Minister. On Wednesday, 17 November 2010 he addressed the then Minister for Justice, Mr. Dermot Ahern, in the Dáil and questioned him on the matter. He asked if the Minister intended to have an investigation into the death of Father Molloy conducted by the Garda Commissioner and whether the Commissioner would examine whether the initial investigation was properly conducted, given the concerns that crucial evidence was not taken account of. He also asked about the manner in which Judge Roe dealt with the case when he dismissed it on the grounds that Father Molloy had died of a heart attack when in fact the inquest ruled that he died from head injuries. Sadly, since the Minister has got into power, he has not followed up on these issues. In fact, there has been no official Garda investigation. According to the Molloy family, the Minister refuses to meet with them. They got a little bit of hope when Mr. Dominic McGinn, a Senior Counsel, was officially appointed in February to identify whether there were any serious issues of public interest or concern in connection with the probe by the Garda serious crime review team. However, the family has heard nothing from this man. Surely they should have been talked to. Finally, I wish to ask about Brian Purcell. He had a connection with the prison service; apparently he ran the prison service. Now, we discover that phones were tapped in the prison service. What did he know about that? Did he have anything to do with it?

I have to say, with no disrespect to the Minister for Finance, that it is an absolute disgrace that the Minister for Justice and Equality is not here. There is a young woman ---

He is on his way. He will be here in five minutes.

I would like to wait until he arrives.

(Interruptions).

The Deputy is using up her time.

Can we wait? I would like to wait until the Minister gets here.

The Deputy has been called and she must speak now.

We can speak now instead.

No. The Deputy has one minute and 26 seconds so she had better keep talking.

There is a young woman in the Public Gallery this evening who has travelled from England; a woman whom Deputy Shatter represented when she was a child; a young woman who was sexually abused horrendously by her father; a young woman called Sarah Bland. Sarah and her mother have provided detailed statements to the gardaí containing serious allegations against Deputy Shatter with regard to perverting the course of justice, obstructing the course of justice and other serious matters. This is one of a number of horrendous cases that remain unresolved in this State. There are too many for us to deal with in a matter of minutes.

To listen to the Taoiseach earlier talking about the Government moving speedily and decisively was quite simply sickening. He talked about a murderer being at large in the context of the case of Sophie Toscan du Plantier as if it was something new. Five Supreme Court judges have previously described the conduct of the gardaí in that case as "breathtaking" misbehaviour. It has been mentioned many times here before but nobody wanted to know. In 2005 Marie Farrell withdrew her statements against Ian Bailey. She went to the press and told everybody that she was given favourable treatment for signing false and blank statements. Nobody wanted to know. Nobody wanted to upset the Garda. In 2001 the DPP produced a report which showed that gardaí had fitted up Ian Bailey. When we brought Ian Bailey to this House last year nobody wanted to know then either. That man, at that time, was facing a European arrest warrant based on briefings by Irish gardaí involved in a corrupt investigation. It is time for the Minister and the rest of the Government to go.

I also think it is a disgrace that the Minister is not here. It is more game playing. He said that the crisis is not of his making, or rather, the crises, and I agree with him but his handling of them has been disastrous, defensive and has lacked any appetite for truth, transparency or accountability. We have spent 18 months dealing with one issue after another, pointing out the fact that he has had no appetite for the truth. This place is disconnected from the real world. Fine Gael and Labour Deputies will get up and vote confidence in the Minister tonight, saying "sure, everything is grand; isn't everything grand". There are not many people who live outside of this place who think that everything is grand. It is a joke; it really is - what they are standing over with the Minister. It has been one sham after another - penalty points, the internal reports, the Roma children, pretending there is no racial profiling, pretending there is no bugging of GSOC, with one weak report after another. Eventually, one public inquiry was set up in the end because the information will come out soon enough anyway. The people do not believe that the Minister has any credibility. The Taoiseach is now backing him 100% and he is losing credibility as well because he is standing over the indefensible. Why did this Government say that it was interested in transparency and accountability? Why did it say that it was interested in doing politics differently, when it is not? It is more of the same. Is anything ever going to change? As long as the Deputies opposite defend the Minister, they are just part of everything that has gone before them. It is a joke.

Is Deputy Wallace defending himself?

The Deputy should keep quiet and have some manners.

(Interruptions).

A motion of no confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, is warranted by any one of several stances taken by the Minister which were all designed to protect the most senior echelons of the Garda Síochána when issues surfaced that brought their role into serious question. The penalty points controversy and the blackguarding of the two gardaí who brought that to the attention of the Government is one instance. The furious attack against the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission when it suspected that its headquarters had been bugged is another and now we have the secret taping at Garda stations.

I wish to raise two issues. I want the Minister or senior gardaí to explain why, following a two year audit by the Data Protection Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, which produced a 95 page report only a few weeks ago about data protection issues, not a single mention is made in that report of a phone call, a taped phone call or anything relating to that.

I want the Garda to explain who held off the truth from whom. I want the Data Protection Commissioner to make a statement on this incredible circumstance.

It is time for a commission of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death, and the investigation of the death or murder, of the Reverend Niall Molloy as pursued relentlessly by the journalist Gemma O'Doherty. It is one of the longest running miscarriages of justice cases in the history of the State. The Government must move on this.

We cannot have confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality. His appalling behaviour in dealing with the penalty points scandal, the whistleblowers, the bugging scandal in GSOC and now the taping controversy has been well rehearsed here, so I will not go through it. All of those things have brought the administration of justice and policing in the State into disrepute. That is why he has to go.

There are a couple of other people who deserve to be mentioned in the short time I have. Irish Independent journalist, Gemma O'Doherty, was sacked for door-stepping Commissioner Callinan over the issue of penalty points that he may have had quashed last year, by the editor-in-chief of Independent Newspapers who was a former editor of the Garda Review. It is alleged in newspaper reports that he had his penalty points quashed. This is the sort of State we live in.

I would gain some return of confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality if we put all of that aside and going forward he looked interested in bringing justice to people who have been denied it. Three times in the last two weeks I have asked about the appalling case of Cynthia Owen, a child who was ritually raped and made pregnant at the age of ten. Her baby was murdered and she alleges that gardaí were involved in that abuse. The case was closed down after six weeks and nobody was ever brought to trial over it. There was a sham investigation years later when the victim of this heinous crime was not even interviewed. The person who carried out that investigation had said publicly a few weeks before that cases of abuse like this should not be investigated at all. Ms Owen has asked the Minister, Deputy Shatter, through her solicitor, for a meeting. She is seeking a commission to investigate this heinous crime, yet the Minister still says "No". How can one have confidence with issues like that?

We have a long list of Members but I will not read them all out because I would be wasting time and there are time limits. I now call the Minister of State. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd, who has two minutes. There is a long list of speakers then who will have one minute each. They will have to stick to that limit.

The Minister, Deputy Shatter, is clearly one of the most effective Ministers of Justice and Equality we have ever had since the foundation of the State. He has been a most reforming Minister, enacting 21 separate pieces of legislation during the past three years. He has overseen a further five Bills which are currently before the Oireachtas and he is directly involved in drafting an additional 14 Bills. In terms of taking business through this House, there is no more hard-working, efficient and effective Minister. Most of the debates that I have been involved in on his behalf have been very objective.

Last year, 8,000 people were committed to jail because they did not pay fines. The average fine is about €200, yet the relevant legislation has never been changed despite 16 years of Fianna Fáil rule. However, the legislation is now being changed. Just like all the other legislation the Minister is introducing, it is progressive and gets to the core principle of fairness, justice and equality for all.

The Opposition has tabled this motion but it is important that a parliament is used properly. We have had many debates, including Private Members' time and questions to the Taoiseach, and the fact is that all the questions concerning the Minister, Deputy Shatter, have been answered. The real point is that we should be talking about the improvement in the economy and in unemployment which is down to about 11.8%. In addition, our tax take is up by about 5%. Notwithstanding the fact that unemployment is still high, it is the lowest it has been in the last five years.

The Minister, Deputy Shatter, is part of a working Government that has reformed the economy. The Minister has been reforming the justice system. The Government is working well and we should be talking about the economy.

This morning, the Taoiseach referred to a package that the Minister, Deputy Shatter, received. It goes to show the degree to which the Opposition is now playing the man rather than the issues. Even in what we have heard today, no one felt that such a package was inappropriate or should be condemned.

Of course it is inappropriate. Do not be a fool.

The only dispute I heard in four weeks at our parliamentary party meetings was tonight when Members expressed disappointment that they did not have an opportunity to speak today in favour of the Minister for Justice and Equality. In my experience as a Deputy, no Minister has shown the compassion and work ethic that the Minister, Deputy Shatter, has shown. We saw that nationally in how he dealt with the issue of those who were in Magdalen laundries and the long overdue amnesty for deserters in the Second World War.

On a personal level, I have also seen him engage with many people, including a young lady in Cork who suffered a terrible tragedy.

He would not even say "Hello" to you.

Thirteen is considered by some people to be an unlucky number. Over the 13-year period that Fianna Fáil spent in government from 1997, no fewer than five different Ministers for Justice served the nation. Many of the grave and serious pigeons that came home to roost in recent weeks on the roof of the Department of Justice and Equality were launched into orbit during the era of fianna failure.

Over the past three years, the current Government, including the Minister for Justice and Equality, has put considerable effort into undoing inherited legal problems and their social impacts. The Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has covered a lot of ground in just three years. As a committee we have considered 19 individual reforming Bills. We have conducted no fewer than ten in-depth examinations of areas where poor legislation was ignored for years. I could go on with a big list but I will not do so.

The Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality is currently considering issues concerning Irish prisoners abroad, public order offences, human trafficking, community courts, domestic violence, sexual violence, restorative justice, the children and family relationships Bill, the new criminal justice Bill and the recent review of the Garda Síochána.

I wish to express my full confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality who is a man of genuine compassion and sincerity. One can contrast the Minister with the political opportunism of the Members opposite and in particular the response of the Fianna Fáil leader, Deputy Martin, to the Travers report. One can also contrast what this Government and the Minister has done with the inept failure of the Members opposite when in government. Deputy Martin defended his handling of the matters in the Travers report by claiming that he was not briefed by his officials, but his officials said otherwise. In Deputy Martin's case, a senior Department official briefed him on a number of occasions but he failed to act for two years. Yet within 48 hours this Government acted.

Deputy Shatter is a reforming Minister and a man of political conviction. As regards Deputy Healy-Rae's point, the Minister not only says "Hello" but also acts. I am proud of the Minister who will bring about full equality for all our citizens. He deserves our support and not the political charade we are going through here.

I am happy to speak in this debate. The public interest would be better served if An Garda Síochána was overseen by an independent policing authority. The Labour Party has advocated this for many years, believing that it is not in the public interest or in the interests of the administration of justice for a police force and its commissioner to be directly answerable to a single elected representative.

I welcome the Government's commitment to introduce an independent police authority. I look forward to the work of the Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, of which I am a member, in reviewing the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

I welcome the Government's decision to appoint Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly, a judge of the Supreme Court, as chair of the commission of investigation. I welcome the agreement that the commission of investigation should examine all matters of public concern relating to the taping of conversations in Garda stations. I understand that the commission's terms of reference will be finalised shortly and will be subject to the approval of this House.

This is probably the most cynical move in opposition I have seen from Fianna Fáil since I was elected three years ago. I listened to Joe Duffy's "Liveline" programme yesterday, the institution that gauges the mood of the general public. The overwhelming if not unanimous response from the people on that show yesterday was that Fianna Fáil is a disgrace. They felt this was a complete time-wasting, cynical political move on the part of Fianna Fáil. If that party wonders why it is languishing at 20% in the polls, all it has to do is look at its activities.

When we started here on 9 March 2011, Deputy Micheál Martin said he would be constructive in opposition and that there would be no Punch and Judy show. All we are wondering is which one of the Deputies opposite is Punch and which is Judy. Fianna Fáil ought to be ashamed.

The only motion of no confidence that should be debated here this week ought to take place in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party room on foot of the shambolic suggestions of its current leader. He sat at the Cabinet table when the legacy of dirt, including the dirt in regard to the economy and the dirt the Minister for Justice and Equality has to clear up, was being created. As on the night he was asked about the bailout, he probably rolled over in the bed and pressed the snooze button. That is what Fianna Fáil did for 14 years, leaving a host of Ministers, including Deputy Shatter, to clear up their legacy. I have no difficulty in voting confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality tonight but it is regrettable that Fianna Fáil, with its legacy of failure, has decided to use valuable Dáil time in this manner. The reason it did was to avoid being outflanked by Sinn Féin next week. I commend the Minister and his work to the House.

The motion is based on a fallacy. Fianna Fáil and the rest of the Opposition is attempting to convince us and themselves that the people are calling for the resignation of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter. They have presented no evidence for this and instead have chosen to focus on the Minister's personality. Parliamentarians should lead by example. Members opposite are giving the impression that it is acceptable to attack a human being on a personal basis. The public is not fooled. Over the weekend, the overwhelming response I received from constituents was to the effect that the motion represented populism gone mad. To illustrate my point, I share the contents of an e-mail I received last week. It said:

I wish to express my support for Minister Shatter and I hope he will have your full support too. Alan is a good man doing great work and I hope you extend my thanks and best wishes to him.

That is an example of the type of feedback I am getting about the Minister in whom I have full confidence. I wish the Members opposite could too.

What is the Minister supposed to have done that is so wrong as to merit two days' debate at the prompting of a desperate Opposition anxious to deflect attention from a Government which has turned around an economy left on its knees by the party opposite before it was run out of office three years ago? On 1 February 2011, the current leader of Fianna Fáil, who is heading up the witch hunt against the Minister, appointed Deputy Willie O'Dea to his Front Bench despite that Deputy having resigned from his post as Minister for Defence in February 2010. It is difficult to credit the hypocrisy and double standards now being displayed by Fianna Fáil.

Tonight's debate is about confidence in Deputy Alan Shatter as a Minister. When one compares his work to the work of his predecessors in the Department, there is no contest. He has a long list to his credit including legislation, modernisation, reform of our prisons, important changes to the jurisdiction of the courts, numerous guidance documents and reform of citizenship applications. I could go on, but this debate is about attacking the Minister's style rather than the substance of his work.

I will vote confidence in the Minister. There has been a regrettable issue in regard to the whistleblowers. That has been resolved and the people have moved on from that issue. They are more concerned with the creation of jobs and mortgage resolution. For the last four hours, the finance committee has been examining personal indebtedness. It is incumbent on all of us to reflect on what has gone on over the past five to six weeks. The people want us to resolve serious issues, but this has become about pedantic and semantic questions which are not related to people's lives. The issues will be dealt with through inquiries and investigations. It is great for the Labour Party to see a new independent body for the Garda being established. It is a matter that has been on the cards since 2002 and it is a good news story. It is a good thing that has emerged from a fiasco.

The Minister closed Garda stations.

Last weekend in Dún Laoghaire, I was given a loud and clear message which was to do the work we were elected to do, create jobs and get our people back to work. Tonight's motion is a distraction. The people of Ireland are not interested in a personalised attack on the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter. After today's events, the least I would expect is for the leaders of the Opposition parties to condemn the sending of sinister material to the Minister's home. I remind the House that the Minister has a family. Can we please stop the play-acting and allow acting Garda Commissioner, Noirín O'Sullivan, Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly of the Supreme Court and Mr. Justice John Cooke to get on with their jobs?

The cynicism of tonight's attack on a very good man with a passion for public service will not, ultimately, be lost on the public. The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, has responded to what are essentially legacy items in quick time. The Cooke and Guerin inquiries and the Fennelly commission will independently and objectively evaluate the issues. For there to be a basis for a motion of no confidence, the Minister would have had to have been negligent or done wrong. Neither is true. Far from doing wrong, the Minister has introduced in his term to date a raft of reforming legislation covering white collar crime, human trafficking, Second World War veterans, community service, insolvency, legal services, defence of our homes, protection of children and the attachment of fines to earnings. The Minister has shown at all times a willingness to be forward thinking and radical.

In the minute I have, I rise to speak in favour of Deputy Alan Shatter as Minister for Justice and Equality. I direct Members opposite to listen back to the Marian Finucane show of last Sunday. The guests were James MacGuill, a solicitor, Richard Moore, advisor to a former Fianna Fáil justice Minister, Harry McGee and Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness. They joined Ms Finucane to talk through recent events as reported in the Sunday newspapers. The discussion on Deputy Shatter was reasonable, measured and stuck to the substantive issues. The contributors were not hysterical or opportunistic.

Insinuations have been made that Deputy Shatter knew about the recordings and failed to act. Deputy Shatter's record disproves that. James MacGuill outlined Deputy Shatter's work on solicitor-client confidentiality during Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union. He outlined that Deputy Shatter's record on this was good. Our Minister was to the fore in guaranteeing the right of access to lawyers and faced down some of the accession states which had become accustomed to eavesdropping. Some of them wished to continue to facilitate it but a complete prohibition was put through under the Irish Presidency thanks to Deputy Shatter.

I support the Minister, Deputy Shatter, who is one of the best and most reforming Ministers the Department has ever seen. He has a strong record of enacting positive legislation and reform. I commend his recruitment campaign for the Garda Síochána. Gardaí will enter Templemore this year for the first time since 2009 when the moratorium was implemented under the last Government. Garda numbers will be maintained at 13,000. I commend the Minister for the extra funding he secured for the Department of Justice and Equality over the Fianna Fáil plan. In 2012, he secured an extra €118 million, in 2013 and extra €154 million and in 2014 an extra €160 million. We have seen a reduction in crime over the term of the Government of 16% including a 10% reduction in homicides, a 14% reduction in sexual offences, a 19% reduction in attempts and threats to murder and a 37% reduction in dangerous acts. I could go on. I strongly support the Minister.

There have been issues over the last number of weeks and they have been corrected, which is very much to be welcomed. It is now important to move on. I have noticed that no Opposition Member spoke about any of the positive things that have taken place in the last three years, including the introduction of personal insolvency legislation which was ground-breaking and badly needed. If we are honest, the motion is not about Deputy Shatter, Fine Gael or the Labour Party. It is about Fianna Fáil and its concerns about the gentlemen on their left, right and behind them. It is one thing to be behind the curve, but Fianna Fáil is not even on the pitch. I have no problem voting confidence in the Minister.

I have known the Minister for Justice and Equality for more than 25 years. I have worked with him and witnessed first hand his dedication, commitment and hunger for reform. He has been a pioneer for change over a long number of years as a trail-blazing student campaigner, distinguished lawyer, Member of the Opposition and, now, Government Minister. He has a record of which both he and we can be proud. He is not finished yet.

I refer to the vile material which was disseminated and distributed to the Minister's house today. I am surprised and disappointed that it has not been condemned by Deputy Micheál Martin, the Leader of the Opposition or the leaders of other parties. That should be done.

We should all join in that.

We agree that it is disgraceful.

The Minister is committed to justice, equality, the rule of law and human rights.

He is tackling and dealing with many problems in his Department and he should be allowed to continue in his role.

Why do I have confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter? I have confidence in the way he is closing St. Patrick's Institution for Young Offenders and ending slopping out in Mountjoy Prison. I have confidence in the way he has criminalised forced labour and his belief in equality, especially in the areas of women's health and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, LGBT, rights in the workplace and society. I have confidence in the legislation he introduces, especially in the area of personal insolvency, and his decision to introduce a Garda authority. However, some of my confidence in the Minister has been shaken by the handling of this issue in recent months, the matter of direct provision centres, the potential of the legal services Bill to prevent top barristers and solicitors taking on pro bono work because of the multidisciplinary structures it will apply and the delay in properly recognising Traveller ethnicity. Much work remains to be done and more reform is needed. While I have confidence that the Minister can achieve this, some areas need his urgent attention.

Speaking as the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, the only complaint I have about the Minister is that he works the committee too hard. The amount of legislation coming before us is unprecedented and its quality is without parallel. The Minister is an ideas man. If a Member from any side of the House approaches him with an idea, he will run with it. Last year a group of students visited the Oireachtas to request the introduction of a missing persons day to remember people who have been missing for more than 20 years. The Minister ran with the idea and the first missing persons day was held in Farmleigh in December last. The event was extremely emotional for the people affected. This is the type of thing the Minister does.

The legislation on assisted decision making before the House is ground-breaking. People from other countries have visited this country to examine the Bill as an example of best practice. While I do not always see eye to eye with the Minister, that is good because constructive debate is necessary.

I, too, will vote confidence in the Minister this evening. Not only do people want economic recovery, they also want us to recover the reputation and integrity of the State, both of which have been damaged of late. The Fianna Fáil Party is engaging in cheap political stunts and targeting the man, rather than the issue. Once this issue has been addressed - the Government acted swiftly in that regard - the Fianna Fáil Party will realise that this matter is yet another legacy of its disastrous period in office. I feel for rank and file gardaí and the manner in which their organisation is being kicked about like a political football. I welcome the independent inquiry and will await its outcome. In the meantime, we must return to the issues in hand and focus on dealing with economic recovery, job creation and reducing unemployment.

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, has been one of the most reforming Ministers for justice ever. He has been always a strong advocate of legal, social and environmental reform and has been correctly described as one of the Cabinet's most hard-working Ministers. I support the case made for the establishment of a commission of investigation into the case of Father Niall Molloy.

As I look across the floor, I see a Deputy from my constituency who resorted to his usual guff in attacking the Minister again this evening. The same Deputy showed breathtaking hypocrisy on the issue of penalty points and continues to portray himself as an anti-corruption crusader. Farcically, he was forced to admit that the quashing of his penalty points was corrupt. Did this self-appointed moral crusader resign as a result of his self-confessed corrupt behaviour? Of course he did not because, after all, it only involved corrupt behaviour on his part. No man is above the law. The Minister has my full support and confidence.

Will Deputy Feighan ever make a speech without referring to me?

I fully support the Minister and the institutions of the State, including the Garda Síochána. The Fianna Fáil Party Deputies opposite stated there are cultural issues that should have been dealt with, yet their party was in power for 15 years during which time Governments failed to act. We do not have any confidence in the ability of Fianna Fáil to deal with important issues. The Minister and Government have promised to establish a Garda authority that will root out the few rotten apples in the Garda Síochána.

The Minister has been a fantastic advocate for the most vulnerable. The Fianna Fáil Party in government avoided introducing legislation such as that the Minister has introduced because it did not wish to invest intellectual capacity in helping the most vulnerable. For that reason alone, the Minister deserves our full support.

I am pleased to pledge my full support for the Minister in the face of a pathetic exercise in political opportunism by the Fianna Fáil Party. Almost all Opposition Deputies who attacked the Minister in recent weeks commenced their contributions with an acknowledgment that he is a hard-working and reforming Minister before dismissing these qualities as if they did not matter. As a Deputy from Kildare South, a constituency that includes the Curragh, I recall that local people were seriously concerned when the Government came to power because it decided to merge the defence and justice portfolios in one Department. People feared this would result in the downgrading of the defence portfolio. Since then, however, various Defence Force personnel have indicated to me on numerous occasions that this is an excellent Minister who has been seen more often in the Curragh than many of his predecessors whose only brief was defence. I congratulate the Minister on sticking to the pledge to maintain Defence Force strength at 9,500. In the face of significant austerity measures and cuts in every area, the Minister stuck to his word at the Cabinet table and adhered to the Fine Gael promise to maintain Defence Force strength.

The bigger picture in this debate is that issues have arisen and the Minister took appropriate and speedy action. As regards the most recent controversy, the relevant tapes are safe. The issues that have arisen are legacy issues which were not addressed previously. The personal and disproportionate attack on the Minister is an attempt to skew reality and diminishes the public view of how politics operate. The political objective of this attack is to bring down a Minister and destabilise and, ultimately, bring down the Government. It is, therefore, personal.

I regret that in all of this the former Garda Commissioner is no longer in his post. Opposition Deputies have the liberty of saying what they like because they do not carry the burden of responsibility of governing and protecting the public good. To be persuaded by the arguments they have made against the Minister would be akin to allowing the lunatics to take over the asylum. This is a hard-working, reforming and honest Minister.

I am pleased to speak to the motion. I have known and worked alongside the Minister for more than 30 years. In everything he has done, whether as a spokesperson or Minister, he has worked extremely hard. He has been unafraid to tackle difficult issues which others were happy to ignore. He has worked to improve our legislative system, both as a Minister and in opposition, and his legacy is one of reform and progress. As with most members of the Government, he came into office facing a range of challenges which had been long-fingered for some time, and set about methodically addressing them, one by one.

The Minister's record speaks for itself. As many of my colleagues noted, during the past 36 months he has been directly involved in the drafting, publication and enactment of 40 separate legislative items. His work rate is second to none, as Deputies on all sides know. This is a common thread in all the work he has done since 2011, whether on personal insolvency and debt relief or in addressing white collar crime, penal reform, vetting and child protection, judicial pay, equality, human rights or human trafficking. All of these issues impact on people in all parts of the country. The Minister's work has improved the position of people throughout the country in all these areas and many more.

The most important thing now is that, following the conclusion of the various inquiries which the Minister and Government have established, we ensure that An Garda Síochána remains the respected force it has been since the foundation of the State and enjoys the full confidence of the people whose freedoms it serves and protects. With this in mind, the Government has reiterated its commitment to reform Garda oversight and accountability, including by establishing an independent Garda authority. The Government will announce the full details of its comprehensive reform proposals in the coming months. This will be done following the completion of the current inquiries by Judge Cook and Mr. Guerin and the forthcoming hearings of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. As a long-standing colleague, I express my support for the Minister.

Much good has come from the unfortunate events of recent weeks. Whistleblowers have acquired a new status and respect, largely as a result of the report of the Garda Inspectorate commissioned by the Minister. A commission of inquiry into Garda telephone recording led by Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly of the Supreme Court will shed light on recordings dating back to the 1980s, including when they started, when they took place and on whose instruction and with whose acquiescence they were made.

The Cooke inquiry will inform us on reports of Garda surveillance at GSOC. It has been a rocky road to reform but the system is being reformed. Most important, the Department of Justice and Equality and this Government have shown that unlike previous Governments they can respond to difficult circumstances and crises. That is an important departure. The Department of Justice and Equality, led by the Minister, Deputy Shatter, is responding in a quick and decisive manner to legacy issues dating back a long time. For this reason, I have complete confidence in the Minister.

What better way is there to judge a Minister for Justice than to review the crime statistics? Since Deputy Shatter became Minister for Justice and Equality, crime has fallen by 16%. This includes a 10% reduction in homicides, a 14% reduction in sexual offences, a 12% reduction in robberies, a 34% reduction in public order offences and a 23% reduction in organised crime offences.

The Minister, Deputy Shatter, is not content with ensuring only that crime statistics decrease, he is a reforming Minister who has been directly involved in the drafting, publication and enactment of 40 pieces of legislation during the past three years. He has overseen referendums to reduce judges' pay in line with the pay cuts in the public sector and the introduction of a new Court of Appeal to make our court systems more efficient. Deputy Shatter has proven himself to be a compassionate Minister who is not slow to tackle the legacy issues he has inherited. As stated by others, children are no longer committed to St. Patrick's institution and a committee to investigate the Magdalen laundries and a scheme to support and compensate the Magdalen women has been established. His expertise in family law will make a real difference in the future with the publication of the child and family relations Bill. This will significantly reform family law and most importantly enhance the protection of children.

Despite the disastrous financial situation inherited from the previous Government, the Minister, Deputy Shatter, has in respect of the three year period 2012-14 secured additional funding over and above that allocated by Fianna Fáil in its national recovery plan to ensure that An Garda Síochána can continue to deliver an effective policing service. He has also secured agreement for the recommencement of Garda recruitment. The Minister is committed to human rights, equality and the rule of law and recently published the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill 2014 and has pioneered an EU human rights and equality initiative. He has ensured that the backlog of applications for citizenship was addressed and secured Government approval to hold a referendum on marriage equality.

In Deputy Alan Shatter we have a Minister for Justice and Equality who is reducing crime rates, reforming our sentencing and legal systems, tackling long-standing issues and advancing human rights. We have the right man in the right job. Previous Governments dominated by Fianna Fáil swept issue after issue under the carpet. If a crisis was looming the Fianna Fáil-Deputy Martin way was to dodge it. The Minister, Deputy Shatter, does not do that. This motion is a cheap attempt by Fianna Fáil to distract the public from the job at hand, which is to restore confidence in the Garda Síochána, restore the faith of the people in the Garda Síochána and get our people back to work.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

I call Deputy Martin who is sharing time with Deputies Timmy Dooley, Michael McGrath and Billy Kelleher. The Deputies have ten minutes each.

There is, unfortunately, a long and dishonourable tradition of a tiny minority abusing politicians and Ministers, in particular those of the Jewish faith. Everybody in this House is united in condemning this. The people who do things like this should be found and prosecuted.

During this debate, Government members and backbenchers have stuck to the basic line that there is no legitimate reason even to raise the issue of whether the Minister, Deputy Shatter, should continue in office. They have said that partisan politics is the only basis for criticising him and that asking him questions is a distraction from the real issues that should concern us. I agree that there are many urgent issues facing the people we represent which deserve more debate and action, including the mounting mortgage and household debt crisis which is not being addressed because of the Government's decision to put the banks in charge; the two-tiered recovery which is seeing some do well as the majority are left behind; and regressive taxes and stealth charges which are hitting struggling families the most. We all know that the detail of the water charges is being hidden until after May's elections. These and many more issues are what concern people the most-----

-----but to use this as an excuse to try and close down the crisis engulfing the tenure of the Minister, Deputy Shatter, is cynical politics at its worst.

Deputy Martin is suffering from amnesia.

Deputies, please.

If we allow this attitude to prevail then it is the same as saying that no Minister can ever be held to account for their actions. The facts of this crisis show that anyone who was looking to the Labour Party to assert basic standards of accountability within the Government can now give up all hope. In this case, the Taoiseach and Minister for Justice pushed the Garda Commissioner into resignation but did not think it necessary to inform the Labour Party about it. This is apparently okay with the Labour Party. It is also okay with that party that it took months to force the Minister, Deputy Shatter, to apologise for a false slur against Garda whistleblowers, and that he has built up a unique record of dismissing anyone who raises any inconvenient issue.

We are not talking about one incident of bad judgment or misfortune concerning a Minister. What is involved is a mounting list of events which have already destroyed public confidence in the oversight by the Minister, Deputy Shatter, of one of the most vital areas handled by Government. The administration of justice and public faith in our police force are not marginal issues: they cannot be pushed aside with the usual spin. Four separate inquiries have been established into matters under the direct control of the Minister, Deputy Shatter. In three instances, there is no question of his full knowledge of the issues and eagerness to declare files closed. The inquiries followed public statements by the Minister that everything was fine. In the case of the Garda and prison tapes, his Department was in possession of significant information for months. This matter is only being investigated because the Attorney General raised the matter with the Taoiseach.

Continuing with his standard practice of dismissing all challenges, the Minister, Deputy Shatter, said last night that questions about "who knew what and when" are irrelevant. During the debate on this motion last night the Minister spoke for 20 minutes about his tenure and quite incredibly failed to mention that he was involved in decisions which led to the resignation of a Garda Commissioner for only the second time in our history.

The Garda Commissioner retired.

The Minister managed to avoid answering questions on this issue. His stated position is that he is a dynamic Minister fully in charge of his Department and that he should not be held accountable for the ongoing escalation of controversies in his Department or his role in pushing the Garda Commissioner into resignation. He claims to be responsible for everything positive and accountable for nothing negative.

Deputy Martin is describing himself.

The Minister, Deputy Shatter, says that he is being vilified and being portrayed as public enemy number one. He has acknowledged the theory that everyone makes mistakes but has refused to admit that he has made any. In addition, he has fallen back on the worn-out, deeply cynical excuse that everything is the fault of his predecessors.

Let it be very clear, Fianna Fáil fully supports the holding of an independent inquiry into the recording practices in Garda stations and prisons. Let that inquiry address any time period it wants and question any former officer it wants. The revelation of this past activity is not the reason the Minister, Deputy Shatter, should leave office. Nobody has said it is. What is at issue is a Minister whose actions in handling the exposure of problems has caused them to escalate to the point of crisis, whose actions have damaged morale within our police force and who is completely dismissive of legitimate questions about his behaviour and the behaviour of those he has been entrusted by the people to oversee.

The manner in which the Minister, Deputy Shatter, has carried out his role as Minister for Justice and Equality goes to the core of the reason the public has lost confidence in him and why we should vote no confidence in him tonight. From his first days in office, he has been aggressively dismissive of any accountability to Dáil Éireann or the wider public. When faced with any specific challenges his immediate response has been to limit information and to attack those asking him questions. Were this purely a matter of style, it would be serious but not fatal. However, this behaviour has led to him taking actions which are incompatible with holding the post of Minister for Justice and Equality in a democratic Republic.

In his early months in office, he started as he meant to go on. He came into this House seeking to limit the time available to the Smithwick Tribunal and said that Judge Smithwick had no problem with what was being proposed. It was only later, and through the freedom of information process, that we discovered that he had failed to tell the Dáil that Judge Smithwick had written to him to object to what he termed his "wholly inappropriate interference" in the work of the tribunal. When questioned, he attacked anyone who suggested that this information was relevant. At roughly the same time in 2011, he appointed his personal friend and donor to serve as Garda confidential recipient. Two years later, this friend and donor was fired for a reason which has still not been explained.

When Independent Deputies raised the possible abuse of the penalty points system the Minister's response was not to express concern and seek to get to the bottom of the problem but to go on the attack.

His misuse of confidential information supplied to him by the Garda Commissioner to attack Deputy Wallace with a false claim of hypocrisy remains a disgrace for which he should have resigned. What compounds this is that a Fine Gael briefing document from last Thursday reportedly dismisses it as a "minor issue" and restates the false claim that Deputy Wallace received penalty points. The Minister's disinterest in how information about another Deputy was leaked before the results from the tests to which she had submitted and which cleared her were available confirmed his highly partisan approach to a role which should be above such concerns.

When the persistence of the Garda whistleblowers meant that the issue would not go away, the Minister took every opportunity to dismiss them, including making attacks on them which he now, under pressure and with the minimum grace possible, admits were false. When the possible bugging of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, was revealed, most Ministers would have responded by committing immediately to investigate the situation. In contrast, the response of the Minister, Deputy Shatter, was to immediately attack GSOC. He supplied the Taoiseach with a false claim that GSOC had a statutory duty to inform him of these matters and he commissioned a technical report which said there was no issue for anyone to be concerned with. The Cabinet showed no confidence in his judgment by agreeing to commission an independent report, albeit with strictly limited terms of reference. For over a week we have been trying to get the Minister to explain why he agreed with the Taoiseach to take actions which directly led to the resignation of the former Garda Commissioner.

The Minister said last night that he does not know if there are legal implications beyond the Bailey case. He said it was the Bailey case alone which gave rise to alarm bells ringing. The chronology published by his officials says former Commissioner Callinan acted on the same basis as the Department and the Attorney General, namely, that it was only the Bailey case which set the alarm bells ringing. However, the Minister and the Taoiseach decided that former Commissioner Callinan alone required a visit in order to be informed him that his actions raised concerns. Despite four attempts during Leaders' Questions, the Taoiseach has failed to answer a simple direct question with regard to why he decided to put pressure on the then Commissioner in such a way as was clearly intended to get him to be the fall guy. The Taoiseach will not explain why he and the Minister did not think they should talk to former Commissioner Callinan before deciding to act. Why did they have so little respect for the position of Commissioner of An Garda Síochána that they did not think the then incumbent had a right to be heard by them? They admit that they did not even discuss his 10 March letter. On this issue, another twist has emerged this evening with a report from thejournal.ie that an internal Fine Gael briefing document of Thursday last confirms that the Minister was told of the existence of the letter on Monday of last week.

Before he claims this is something new, the Deputy should know that thejournal.ie got the date wrong.

Taken with the Secretary General's confirmation that he briefed the Minister on the issue, this directly contradicts what we have been told on the record of this House.

The Deputy is not interested in hearing that.

While each morning we find a new informed leak from Government seeking to explain their actions, nothing credible has yet been said.

The Deputy has still not commented on the substance of the issue at hand.

The most recent anonymous briefing says that they were scared that tapes were about to be destroyed. In reality, they received a briefing from the Attorney General and Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality, both of whom knew - as the letter of 10 March stated - that the tapes were "Now stored securely in Garda Headquarters pending the finalisation of legal advice". The inescapable conclusion is that the decision to send his most senior official to the former Commissioner's home on Monday evening last was influenced by the wish to make the latter the sole focus of attention. For a week previous to that meeting, political sources had each day worked to take the attention away from the Minister and place it onto former Commissioner Callinan alone. Newspapers were full of quotes from Ministers willing to talk about his entirely wrong statement about the whistleblowers to the Committee of Public Accounts. When the tapes issue emerged, the reaction of the Minister and Taoiseach was entirely driven by the wider context of wanting the crisis to go away and to protect the Minister.

It has been claimed during this debate that the Minister, Deputy Shatter, is somehow a uniquely reforming Minister. This is just not true. His predecessors in the Department generated an average of 15 to 20 Acts per year and these often had a profound, reforming impact. Many of the Acts brought forward by the Minister have been good and we supported them. However, some important measures are increasingly driven by his personal obsessions and he is dismissive of any disagreements. The Legal Services Regulation Bill is a good example in this regard. If the Minister ceases to hold office, legal reforms will still be proposed, debated and implemented. The difference is that such reforms will reflect a broader democratic input.

Like zero tolerance.

One must ask how the claims that the Minister is completely on top of his portfolio sits with his hiding from the media for the past month. It is over three weeks since he last gave an interview of any type. He has turned down interview requests from every broadcaster and every newspaper in the country.

The Deputy would be giving out if-----

This is unprecedented in our modern history. There is no example of a Minister embroiled in a major controversy who has refused - for so long - to be interviewed.

Deputy Niall Collins went AWOL for an hour last evening from a meeting of a particular committee at a time when he could have asked questions.

Those in the media cannot expect to have politicians available to them whenever they want but in a modern democracy, a holder of major public office has no right to hide from interviews, limiting appearances to a Dáil Chamber whose agenda and format is tightly controlled by his Government. Of what is the Minister so afraid? How can we be expected to have confidence in a Minister for Justice and Equality who is now proposing the establishment of a Garda authority which last month he said would be damaging and inappropriate? How can we be expected to have confidence in a Minister for Justice and Equality who attacks and dismisses anyone who raises an inconvenient question?

May I raise a point of order please?

Deputy Martin has gone way over time.

No, he has not.

How can we be expected to have confidence in a Minister for Justice and Equality who will not be publicly interviewed about a major crisis in his area? How can we be expected to have confidence in a Minister for Justice and Equality when the Taoiseach left him in the dark for 24 hours about a major issue concerning his Department? How can we be expected to have confidence in a Minister for Justice and Equality who agrees to pressurise a Garda Commissioner into resignation and thinks this is not important enough to discuss in the Dáil? We have been accused of playing politics but the real politics in this Chamber are being played by Government parties which have put their own interests ahead of demanding even basic accountability from one of its own Ministers.

Unlike Fianna Fáil when it was in government.

The newspapers are full of off-the-record comments from backbenchers and Ministers alike agreeing that the Minister, Deputy Shatter, has behaved disgracefully. The actions of the Taoiseach and the Cabinet show that they do not have confidence in the Minister to address the rising crisis of confidence in his handling of the Department of Justice and Equality. Those opposite have already shown by their actions that they have no confidence in him. If they vote tonight to express confidence in him, they share full responsibility for his behaviour.

There are 17 minutes remaining in the slot. As a result, Deputy Dooley has seven minutes.

We will take five or six minutes each, if that is acceptable.

That is fine. The Deputies will have 17 minutes between the three of them.

Does anyone opposite wish to raise a point of order now?

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the motion. I bear the Minister no ill will-----

The Deputy said that last week but I presume I will be treated to the same speech again.

Will the Minister please allow the Deputy to proceed?

If that is what the Minister wants, I will deliver the same speech. However, there have been a few developments-----

The Deputy always says what he just stated and is then really nasty afterwards.

-----during the course of the past week.

The Deputy should go ahead in any event.

Let me make it clear that I protect the right of those on all sides of the House to have their say, without interruption. I ask that Deputy Dooley be allowed to proceed, without interruption.

I will keep it strictly to business. At issue here is the Minister's stewardship of the justice system during the past 18 months. What is not at issue is what we have heard from his colleagues during this debate. What is also not at issue is the Minister's undoubted intelligence, his capacity for hard work or his zeal to reform. What is at issue is his capacity to manage. There is a big difference between his capacity to legislate and his capacity to manage. In my view he has shown a very poor level of performance in respect of issues that have arrived at his door, some of which were of his making while others were not. The test of his capacity to manage those issues and deal with them effectively is what is at issue, not the kind of claptrap we have all been obliged to listen to since this debate began.

The central theme here is that the former Garda Commissioner was forced out of office to save the Minister's skin and the blushes of the Labour Party. What we have failed to elicit from the Minister, his colleagues and the Taoiseach in recent days is information as to why this happened. I accept that the former Commissioner had issues on which to reflect in the context of his dealings with the whistleblowers, the penalty points controversy, GSOC, etc. We understand that he was of a mind to make some form of statement and sought advice in that regard. He was advised against making any statement. Why was that the case? If the former Commissioner had resigned on foot of the issues to which I refer or had reflected more deeply and apologised, the Minister would have been left in the same boat as him. In fact, the Minister was probably more culpable because he had stuck his neck out much further than the former Commissioner in respect of those issues.

On the Sunday before last, the Taoiseach came into possession of what we believe to be earth-shattering information. I accept that said information relates to a serious issue but I wonder about the haste in proceeding to deal with it. If there was a necessity for such haste, why were steps not taken to arrange a meeting involving the Minister, his officials, the great and the good from the Department of the Taoiseach, the Taoiseach himself and officials from the Attorney General's office in order to try to get to the bottom of the matter? The Taoiseach has stated that he spent the day validating the information he received. There has still not been much clarity with regard to the process of validation which he undertook. Another matter which is not at issue is that the Minister and the Secretary General of his Department sat down with the Taoiseach and the Secretary General of his Department. My belief is that the Minister and the Secretary General at the Department of Justice and Equality were aware of the existence of a letter which vindicated the Garda Commissioner in respect of the issue of the recording of telephone calls, a matter that had been brought to the attention of the Taoiseach on the previous day. During his Government briefing yesterday, the Taoiseach stated that he should have been made aware of the relevant information in this regard. The expectation would be that if such information existed, it should have been made available to him. However, it was not.

His briefing should have indicated that he should have been aware and he said as much yesterday at his Government briefing. His expectation was that if that was the information then it would have been made available to him but it was not. The Minister and his Secretary General sat at the meeting while the Taoiseach asked the Minister's Secretary General to meet the then Commissioner Callinan and effectively summarily dismiss him.

It is not conceivable that the Commissioner did not remind the Secretary General that he had sent him a letter which set out clearly the timeline, the chain of events and how the Commissioner had dealt with the recordings. It is not conceivable that the Secretary General, if he had not seen the letter at that stage or was not aware of it because of the explanation he gave in his briefing, would not have been aware of it after his meeting with Martin Callinan. It is not conceivable, notwithstanding the concerns of the Minister and the Taoiseach about the use of mobile telephones, that the Secretary General would not have made a call to the Minister on his return journey from the Garda Commissioner to the Minister and the Taoiseach to indicate that there was a document in existence which set out clearly the process followed by the Garda Commissioner. That process clearly sets out a defence that he had against his dismissal.

Other information has come into the public domain which suggests that the Garda Commissioner contacted the Secretary General of the Department the following day to see if anything had changed. What was it? What message had he given the Secretary General on his return to the city centre which created an expectation in the mind of the Commissioner that minds of the Minister and the Taoiseach or those of the so-called members of the Cabinet had changed? According to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte, they were not even informed. How might their minds have been changed had some information that was already available come to bear?

Will the Minister help me to understand why I have got it wrong, if that is his contention? My belief is that the Garda Commissioner was sacked on a trumped-up charge to the effect that somehow he had done something wrong in respect of the recordings that go back decades. In truth, the Taoiseach, together with the Minister for Justice and Equality, sacked him for his handling of the whistleblower issue, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission issue and other related matters. The fact is the Minister will not confess up to that. He cannot 'fess up to it because if he did he would have to do the honourable thing. If the Minister was not prepared to do the honourable thing then his colleagues in government from the Labour Party would have no choice but to force him out. However, they are happy to hide behind the weak defence that the Minister has presented as well as the trumped-up charge.

We talk about the Bailey case and people being fitted-up for crimes that they did not or may not have committed. The Garda Commissioner has been fitted up for a crime that he had nothing whatsoever to do with. He did his duty and he did it well. He provided the information to the Minister but the Minister has still gone ahead. The Minister is not prepared to accept the facts or even give credit to the work that this man has done for over many decades. It is shameful and I believe in time the Minister will be found out for it.

There is ten minutes left in this slot, with five minutes for each Deputy.

Several of the Minister's backbenchers have said tonight that this debate is about personality. It is absolutely not. The material that was sent to the Minister's home today is utterly reprehensible and our leader has dealt with that issue in his opening remarks. The issues that have emerged in recent months on penalty points, GSOC and Garda tapes have become so confusing and there is such a tangled web at this stage. Perhaps the management of these issues has perpetuated that confusion deliberately.

We are led to believe that the improper recording of telephone conversations at certain Garda stations exploded as an issue on Sunday, 23 March when the Attorney General briefed the Taoiseach and the suggestion was that it was something new or that there was a dramatic new revelation which had the potential to lead to the appalling vista of the doors of Irish prisons being opened up, with rapists and murderers walking free onto our streets. This issue was urgent and grave to the extent that the Taoiseach felt the need to dispatch the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality to the Garda Commissioner's home, without consulting the Minister, to convey those sentiments to him.

The problem with all of that is the Attorney General, who advises the Government, had been aware of the Garda telephone tape recording issue since the previous November. There has been precious little commentary on that. She was briefed by the Garda Commissioner in November last year. I am led to the conclusion that all of this is about political expediency. We have an Attorney General from the Labour Party family. We have a Fine Gael Minister for Justice and Equality. The Fine Gael message to the Labour Party in recent days has been quite clear: if the Labour Party comes looking for the head of the Minister for Justice and Equality, then the Labour Party had better be prepared to sacrifice the Attorney General as well. Of course, there had to be a head on a plate.

Deputy McGrath is living in a fantasy.

Someone had to go, because a head of steam had been building up since the previous Thursday, when the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Leo Varadkar, publicly called on the Garda Commissioner to withdraw his "disgusting" remark made at the Committee of Public Accounts. He was backed up by a succession of Ministers in the following days. Of course, the sacrificial lamb would be none other than the Garda Commissioner.

The Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality was sent to the home of the former Commissioner, Martin Callinan, to raise an issue that the Attorney General knew all about since the previous November and which the Department of Justice and Equality had known about for the previous two weeks. The Commissioner was told, apparently, that there was grave concern at Cabinet level about this issue, despite the fact that the Cabinet was not even aware of it until the following morning, by which time the Commissioner, Martin Callinan, had bowed to be inevitable and resigned. The Commissioner knew well the nature of the code of the visit from the Secretary General of the Department to his house after hours. The code was that the Government had lost confidence in the Garda Commissioner and that he had to go. He did go. There has been much playing with words in recent days to the effect that the letter was not received by the Minister or was not furnished to him. However, the content and the core message was indeed delivered and that has been confirmed.

The Minister's colleagues will go through the motions of voting confidence in him this evening. However, I submit that they do not have confidence in him. His days are numbered because they know well that he is now a serious political liability for this coalition. The Minister should ask himself why the Taoiseach bypassed him for a critical a 48-hour period when this issue was coming to a head. The Minister was absolutely and utterly bypassed because, I believe, the Taoiseach does not have full confidence in the Minister, nor do the members of the Garda Síochána, who have passed a motion of no confidence in an unprecedented way at the Garda Representative Association, GRA conference.

A more concerning development for the Government is not the lack of confidence in the Minister but the Taoiseach's credibility and authority, which has been undermined fundamentally by his handling of this issue. When the Minister, Deputy Leo Varadkar, came out and made his comments to the effect that the Commissioner should withdraw the "disgusting" remark he was slapped down in a very public way by the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach said that Minister's should raise those concerns at Cabinet level but his request was not acceded to. It was blatantly ignored by a line of Ministers in the following days who repeated that call for the Garda Commissioner to withdraw the remark. The reality is that considerable political capital has now been extended to protect the Minister and his colleagues know all about it. Anyway, the fundamental question which has not yet been answered is why the Garda Commissioner felt the need to resign.

Why was he forced to go? There have been efforts to assassinate his character and good name.

Sorry, you are taking time from Deputy Kelleher.

He is public is a public servant of the utmost integrity. I am left with the inescapable conclusion that the wrong man has gone.

I wish to summarise some of the points that have been made. It is important to put the matter in context while we are discussing this motion of no confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality. We need only think back a short period when the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, made his public comments at a road safety conference. He said that the whistleblowers were distinguished. Not long before that the Minister for Justice and Equality had been asked on numerous occasions to withdraw his remarks on non-co-operation in the O'Mahony investigation. The Commissioner was under pressure given his use of the word "disgusting" at the Committee of Public Accounts meeting.

What happened was that the Garda Commissioner was minded to withdraw the "disgusting" remark made at the Committee of Public Accounts meeting but he was advised by the Department of Justice and Equality that this would not be the best course of action. I am keen to know whether the Minister ever advised the Commissioner on whether he should withdraw the remark. Did the Minister ever have a conversation with the Commissioner about this particular issue with regard to his performance at the Committee of Public Accounts? They were tied to the hip on this particular issue.

Not only were the Minister and the Commissioner tied to the hip on the issue of the whistleblowers, but that was also the case on the issue of GSOC and a number of incidents that came to the public's attention over a period of time.

It is amazing that consistent briefings from sources close to Government and even some Ministers, which appeared again on the front page of The Irish Times today, have accused An Garda Síochána of perverting the course of justice and destroying evidence, namely, the tapes. Even the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, made this allusion last week. To try to save the Minister's skin, the Government has decided to denigrate the position of the Garda Commissioner.

The timelines are critical, as are the process and the question of why the Minister was not consulted, but a definite fact is that the Taoiseach was informed on the Sunday night of problems regarding a particular case that would have broader implications. He decided to act because he knew that the political pressure had become almost unbearable and that some head needed to fall. The Attorney General was implicated. She was not only consulted by departmental officials, but also by the Garda Commissioner, who informed her of the issue of the tapes last November. If not, then the Dáil has been misled in recent days by the leader of the Minister's party, the Taoiseach. The Attorney General was informed last November, a working group was established within An Garda Síochána and there were constant discussions between the Garda and officials in the Minister's Department.

The Minister has made many claims about his ability. He sent out a 53-page document on his achievements. I am beginning to think that if he sent out a list of his failures, it would be even longer. He has undermined any credibility in the notion that a Minister should take responsibility and accept that if he or she has done wrong or acted in a way unbefitting of the office, he or she should resign honourably.

The bottom line is that the Minister has consistently undermined the whistleblowers and two Deputies for cheap political gain. He must get up every morning, look himself in the mirror and decide whether the Garda Commissioner was sacrificed to keep the Government intact. The Labour Party, which is consistently absent when issues of confidence in the Minister are being discussed, knew full well that, if it came-----

The Deputy was absent for an hour this day last week.

-----looking for his head, someone on its side would have to fall. I am almost certain that, to take the pressure off the Government, the Taoiseach decided to sacrifice the Commissioner, Mr. Callinan. This is a shameful saga in the administration of justice and the Minister is culpable.

The Deputy has a short memory.

A confidence motion on a Minister should be pursued only when a Minister has done something improper or has been incompetent to the point of negligence. There is no question of either condition applying to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter. He clearly has done nothing improper and his record over the past three years shows that he has outstanding competence.

The approach of the Opposition, particularly Fianna Fáil, which has moved the motion, is dishonest. All of the pretend outrage coming from the benches opposite does not hide that fact. Fianna Fáil is bereft of all credibility. It has not a single policy on any issue. Like a defeated team, it has decided to play the man, not the ball.

The Minister should think back to 2002.

To even up the match, Fianna Fáil has organised a vicious assault on a star player on the opposing team, but that is not going to get it-----

If he is the star, so much for the rest.

Fianna Fáil would like to put him out of the game, but that will get it nowhere.

For three years, Fianna Fáil has hoped to rebuild its party on the prospect of failure. It hoped that the Government, the economy and the country would fail.

That is not true, Minister. That is a despicable comment.

It is now clear that the Government is not failing. It is clear-----

The Minister is right.

(Interruptions).

Deputies, please.

-----that the economy is growing and that thousands of people are returning to work. It is clear that the country is becoming more vibrant and that Fianna Fáil has been forced to resort to personal attacks on a Minister to retain any shred of relevance in the Dáil.

The Minister, Deputy Shatter, is a most competent Minister. The Government's amendment to the motion, which lists his legislative achievements, his successes in the battle against crime and his reforming zeal, is testimony to this. Most of the difficulties in the justice area in recent months arose from incidents that occurred when Fianna Fáil was in office. In this respect, Fianna Fáil has performed a major conjuring trick through which the people who caused the mess are blameless and the man who is cleaning it up is supposed to be at fault.

Several inquiries are in place to deal with the issues that have been debated in the Chamber in recent months. When the reports come to hand, they will be fully debated in the House. While all of these matters are important and must be fully investigated and those lessons that need to be learned must be learned, they are of a different order of priority than the latest revelations of conversations of telephone calls to and from Garda stations being recorded, a practice that occurred over a period of at least 20 years and on a widespread basis. Even before the commission of inquiry begins its work, it is clear that this revelation is a crystalising event and that Garda structures and systems must be changed radically and quickly.

This is why, on the proposal of the Taoiseach at last week's Cabinet meeting, a decision was taken to establish an independent policing authority. The work on this will proceed immediately and we are fortunate that we have Deputy Shatter as Minister for Justice and Equality-----

The Government does not trust him.

-----to develop the structures and guide the enabling legislation through the House to put an independent policing authority in place. Issues such as the legal basis for taping conversations and the privacy issues that arise may also require a legislative, if not a constitutional, response.

This matter is not only confined to Ireland. A number of high-profile incidents in the past 12 months have underlined the importance of an adequate response. Employees of the News of the World accessed the telephones of many citizens in the UK. One aspect of that matter is being decided in a high-profile case before the courts in London. Mr. Edward Snowden's allegations are a recurring theme in the media. Issues such as US intelligence services monitoring the telephone calls of European leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel are of serious concern. The Boston College tapes also raise a series of issues that Sinn Féin might see fit to address in the Dáil in due course.

My main point is that, while the issue of establishing a policing authority is of paramount importance and the Government must set about that task forthwith, other issues will arise. I look forward to Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly's report with interest.

Two aspects of the manner in which Deputy Shatter was pursued disturbed me deeply, the first of which was the exaggerated positions adopted by many Deputies. A Sinn Féin Deputy stated on television that she did not believe a word coming out of the Minister's mouth. When challenged on that, she claimed that she did not believe anything that the Government stated on this issue. Contrast that with her total belief in the statement from her leader that he was never a member of the IRA and that he had nothing to do with the Jean McConville disappearance or the other people who disappeared when the Boston tapes, to which I have referred, have fully recorded his place in that.

Sectarian murders in the North.

We have just heard from the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, who opened his contribution by saying that Fianna Fáil was going for the man, not the ball before he had a go at our party. He proceeded to talk about anything and everything except what the Minister, Deputy Shatter, had been doing in recent months and his record in office.

The Deputy was not listening if that is the case.

The Minister, Deputy Noonan, "bigged up" the issue of the Garda telephone bugging by referring to US intelligence services. He referenced Mr. Snowden and the News of the World and had a go at the Opposition party beside mine.

And Fianna Fáil.

He did everything to detract from the question at hand, which is whether the House and the country have confidence in the Minister, Deputy Shatter.

What has been clearly outlined by many of the speakers who have spoken tonight is how he mishandled the whistleblowers and GSOC issues and how he was joined at the hip with the Garda Commissioner in terms of how he responded to those issues and how he treated the whistleblowers. Indeed, we also heard how there were efforts within the Department or elsewhere to prevent the Garda Commissioner from going back on his comments to the committee. Then something of which the Government, in the form of the Attorney General, was aware since November became such a big issue overnight that it justified an immediate commission of inquiry. We also see that it was used to get rid of the Garda Commissioner.

At the same time the Minister came to the House to apologise for the way he handled the whistleblower issue, after having refused either to correct the record of the House when he said they did not co-operate or to apologise to them for weeks in advance of that. If this was such a significant issue that justified the establishment of a commission of inquiry as soon as the Taoiseach became aware of it, why was the Taoiseach or the Minister not asking similar questions of the Attorney General who was aware of this issue since last November?

If they believe it merited an immediate commission of inquiry, what questions are being asked about the fact that the Government was aware of it that long ago? What does it say about the communication between the Attorney General and the Minister for Justice and Equality that she did not discuss the matter with him immediately? What does it say about the Taoiseach's confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality that he did not discuss the matter with the Minister immediately as well, once he became aware of it?

Unfortunately, we have seen obfuscation in every attempt to try to get the Minister out of the hole in which he finds himself. Meanwhile, the number of inquiries and commissions ratchet up to the current number of four. Alongside this, there is the issue of the letter and when the Minister became aware of it. Very careful language has been used to cloud whether the Minister knew on the Monday or was briefed on what was in the letter and the fact that the Garda Commissioner had communicated it to his Department two weeks beforehand. Despite that, on the basis of the content referred to in that letter, the Taoiseach asked the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality to make known to the Garda Commissioner his dissatisfaction with how the issue was handled. The Taoiseach said in the House yesterday that he should have known about that letter. It is incomprehensible that the Minister, Deputy Shatter, when engaging with his Secretary General and his officials would not ask questions such as, "Did we know about this before?" or "Has the Garda Commissioner ever asked us about this?", or would not have checked and thought it relevant that the Attorney General knew about it since the previous November, which is a significant factor as well with regard to how the Taoiseach has confidence in her and in the way the Government handled the issue. Instead, a head had to be delivered and it was that of the former Garda Commissioner.

During the Minister's term of office we have seen that whenever an issue in his Department becomes controversial he goes after the man. That happened with regard to the whistleblowers, the confidential recipient, Oliver Connolly, and the former Garda Commissioner. All of it is to protect the Minister. It is time that the person who should have been first to take responsibility and go because of the handling of these issues should now do so.

There is no doubt that this debate has again seen an extraordinary display of arrogance by the government parties. Speaker after speaker has continued the farce that we have seen for two weeks in this Chamber, the farce of self-congratulation. The Government was ridiculed last night on the six o'clock news for that. If it had wanted us to engage in that type of debate we could have recounted to the Irish public, at length, the broken promises, U-turns, election lies and endless spin in which it engaged.

The Travers report.

The Deputy would not do that.

We could also recount how the Government crudely reminded the public, in respect of election promises, that it is what one does at election time and the promises are there to be broken. However, the public will be waiting in the long grass for the Government in that regard.

We were also treated to a good helping of the Government's dismissive attitude to this Parliament and opposition Deputies. That dismissive attitude resonates with the public, and the Government has received a couple of warnings with the results of the referenda in which it engaged. It has lost plenty of them and they were fairly straightforward. Its outright policy of quelling any opposition, alternative or minority voice knows no bounds, and it will continue in that vein.

I wish to refute one aspect of this debate. The Minister knows well that I have never made a cheap personal remark against him inside or outside this Chamber. I do not know if the Minister could say the same with respect to me. No Deputy in my party has engaged in a personalised attack on the Minister throughout this debate. We have kept to the issue.

(Interruptions).

Of course, when the Government is under pressure it seeks to rely on the age-old defence of playing the man rather than the ball. It does not wash on this occasion.

I condemn the attack on the Minister's private residence and I hope the people concerned are caught. However, every Deputy in this Chamber has received hate mail, so it is not relevant to this debate. The Taoiseach decided to insert it this morning.

Almost a year ago we tabled a motion of no confidence in the Minister. In the usual fashion the Minister came into the Chamber and described the opposition Deputies who spoke as character assassins. What about the whistleblowers and the members of GSOC? What about the confidential recipient, the Garda Commissioner and the two Independent Deputies behind me? Those were attempted character assassinations by the Minister and the Government and by the silence of the Deputies opposite. They are the character assassins. It is a case of everybody else except them.

Every opportunity has been afforded to the Government tonight and last night to address the issue of the departure of the former Garda Commissioner, but it has steadfastly refused to deal with his sacking. It is worthwhile to remind the Irish public of his career. He joined the force in 1973 and rose to the ranks of sergeant, inspector, superintendent, chief superintendent, assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner and Garda Commissioner. The Government extended his term as Garda Commissioner. He led the fight against organised crime, subversives and the IRA. The Government reached for him at every opportunity as a positive example. However, none of the government speakers in his or her contribution last night or tonight addressed why he was sacked and why he had to go prematurely. Shame on them. He was an outstanding public servant for 41 years and the Government extended his term, but none of the government speakers could address the elephant in the room. In fairness, Deputy Michelle Mulherin was the only speaker who could bring herself to do it. Yes, he made a mistake when he used the remark "disgusting", but his loyalty to the Minister and to the Government in that regard cost him his job. That is the point.

This morning, during Leaders' Questions, the Taoiseach continued to say he had grave concerns about the telephone recording. They may be grave in respect of the Bailey case, but there has not been a queue outside the High Court petitioning for miscarriages of justice. The rest of the graveness has not been explained; the Taoiseach has not taken the opportunity to explain it. It is quite clear that the Taoiseach betrayed the former Garda Commissioner and that he was involved in shafting him, but he kept the Minister, Deputy Shatter, out of the loop.

The Government decided that a body had to be thrown under the bus, as it were, so they grabbed the Garda Commissioner and threw him under the bus. People are asking who will be next, because there will be someone next if we go by the pattern of events. The Taoiseach appointed the Minister and he is responsible for him, yet he chose not to involve the Minister in any of the major discussions when we follow through on the timeline of events. Is that a vote of confidence? I think it is not by his actions.

I do not know where the lads in the Labour Party and Fine Gael back benches stand.

What about the ladies?

We all know what is in it for the leaders of Fine Gael. The Kennys, Hogans, Shatters and Reillys will all hold on to power and to office. We all know what is it in it for the leaders of the Labour Party.

Is that a prediction the Deputy is making?

They will hold on to their power and they will clock up their pension credits, and it is doubtful whether they will face the music at the next election.

What is in it for Deputy Martin?

But what is in it for the rank and file in the back benches of the Labour Party? That is the question. They know in their hearts and souls that the public have called time on the Minister. Many of them never heard this Minister in opposition and what he said in various motions of no confidence. It would serve them well to go back and educate themselves on what he said and the personalised attacks he made when he stood on the Opposition side of House, before they say that the kettle is calling the pot black. They want to be complicit and they want to rubber-stamp the shafting of the Garda Commissioner. Shame on them. My party thanks the Garda Commissioner for his service, and we thank the members of An Garda Síochána for their success, in spite of the Minister's best efforts to place them in every single controversy which has arisen.

This is not personal. It is just business and it is time for the Minister to go.

The Deputy was looking for the Commissioner's head a week ago.

He was. Him and his leader. Both of them.

Do you mind if I put the question?

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 95; Níl, 51.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Luke 'Ming'.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 95; Níl, 51.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Luke 'Ming'.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P..
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Question declared carried.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.25 p.m. until 9.30 a.m. on Thursday, 3 April 2014.