Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Dara Calleary has accused the Government of performing a ‘lockdown’ and putting its own agenda ahead of the public interest by refusing to facilitate a debate on serious allegations against one of its Ministers.
The Taoiseach today refused to make time available for a debate on a Fianna Fáil Motion of Censure against the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. The motion was tabled in response to revelations that the Dáil was misled when the Government pushed through a motion limiting the time available to the Smithwick Tribunal to complete its work.
Deputy Calleary commented: “There is nothing “bogus” about the allegations we are making. Minister Shatter came into the House in possession of crucial information that he didn’t reveal and he continued to withhold this information from the Seanad.
“We now know that Minister Shatter failed to disclose strong warnings from Judge Smithwick about the dangerous impact of his motion to limit the Tribunal’s work. Judge Smithwick said the motion could endanger the Tribunal’s work and lead to vital witnesses withdrawing their cooperation. The Government was also directly warned that its behaviour was a “wholly inappropriate attempt by the Executive to interfere with the independence of the tribunal”.   
“The Minister’s failure to disclose this crucial information raises very serious questions that require a full examination by the Dáil. The Taoiseach has blocked our bid to debate this, ignoring the impact that the Minister’s actions may have on public confidence in the Tribunal’s independence.  By behaving the way it is, this Government is actually adding to a sense of ‘coverup’, thereby undermining the very point of this costly but necessary Tribunal.”