The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Sargent, has given me notice in writing that he wishes to make a personal explanation. I have decided to permit a personal explanation by the Minister of State. The personal explanation should be heard without comment or intervention of any kind.
Personal Explanation by Minister of State.
I thank you, a Cheann Comhairle, for affording me the opportunity to explain to the House the circumstances of the clinic inquiry I received in June 2008 relating to an alleged assault in September 2007, which were partially reported in the media this afternoon. A victim of an assault came to me to voice his frustration at the slow progress being made with the case, where he alleged he had been head-butted when, as he told me, he had reported vandalism to parents of a child he had seen trying to remove a road sign in their housing estate. My intention was to ensure the Garda was aware I had received representation from a victim in an alleged assault and that the full preparation of the case would benefit from witnesses not yet interviewed, being interviewed before proceeding further. The victim, meanwhile, was afraid for his personal safety and showed the evidence of the assault on his face.
I accept, however, that although my actions in contacting An Garda Síochána were not a criminal offence, under section 6 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1974 such a communication could be deemed not lawful. In this regard I accept I made an error of judgment. Accordingly, I hereby tender my resignation forthwith as Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for food and horticulture.