Alan Shatter

Alan Shatter
Minister for Justice and Equality
In office
9 March 2011  7 May 2014
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Preceded by Brendan Smith (Justice and Law Reform)
Succeeded by Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Defence
In office
9 March 2011  7 May 2014
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Preceded by Éamon Ó Cuív
Succeeded by Enda Kenny (acting)
Teachta Dála
In office
May 2007  February 2016
In office
June 1981  May 2002
Constituency Dublin South
Personal details
Born Alan Joseph Shatter
(1951-02-14) 14 February 1951
Rathgar, Dublin, Ireland
Political party Fine Gael
Spouse(s) Carol Ann Danker
Children 2
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Religion Judaism

Alan Joseph Shatter (born 14 February 1951) is an Irish Fine Gael politician. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South constituency. After 30 years as a parliamentarian without ministerial office he became Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence in March 2011 but resigned in scandal in May 2014 and lost his seat again (having originally done so in 2002 only to regain it in 2007) in the general election that followed.[1]

Early life

Born in Dublin to a Jewish family, Shatter is the son of Elaine and Reuben Shatter, an English couple who met by chance when they were both on holidays in Ireland in 1948.[2][3] He was educated at The High School, Dublin and Trinity College, Dublin. He has been to Israel a number of times, including to work on a kibbutz as a young man.[4]

Shatter has lived most of his life in Dublin — he grew up in Rathgar and Rathfarnham and lives now in Ballinteer with his wife, Carol Ann (Danker) Shatter, and two children.[5] He was the only Jewish member of Dáil Éireann during his last term.

Business interests

Shatter owns several properties in the United States. With interests in fifteen properties, Shatter had the largest property portfolio of any member of Ireland's cabinet while minister.[6]

Dáil Éireann: 1981–2002, 2007–2016

Shatter was first elected to the Dáil at the 1981 general election, and was re-elected at each subsequent election until he lost his seat at the 2002 general election. He was re-elected at the 2007 general election.[7] Shatter was a member of Dublin County Council from 1991 to 1999 for the Rathfarnham area.

Having a legal background, Shatter has proposed much legislation during his time as a TD. While in opposition, he published more Private member's bills than any other TD had done previously. His bills were successful in making changes in areas such as health, sport and justice, with the government often amending bills that he brought forward and adopting them as their own. Even prior to becoming a member of the Oireachtas, Shatter satirised some of the measures inherent within a 1979 Family Planning bill in the form of his nationally published booklet, "Family Planning – Irish Style".

During the 1980s Shatter successfully lobbied for the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was a member of the Committee from its foundation in 1992, apart from a brief period in 1993 to 1994, and its chairman from December 1996 to June 1997.

During a period in 1993 to 1994 he was removed by party leader John Bruton as a disciplinary measure for breaking the party whip. This was occasioned by his voting in the Dáil in favour of a Bill to ban live hare coursing. Shatter was president of the Irish Council against Blood Sports for a time.

During his time in the Dáil, he has been a Fine Gael Front Bench spokesperson on Law Reform (1982, 1987–88); the Environment (1989–91); Labour (1991); Justice (1992–93); Equality and Law Reform (1993–94); Health and Children (1997–2000); Justice, Law Reform and Defence (2000–02); Children (2007–10); and Justice and Law Reform (2010–11).

During his time out of politics after losing his seat at the 2002 general election, he practised as a solicitor and was a partner of the firm Gallagher Shatter. Among his professional affiliations, he is a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

During the 2009 Gaza War, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh claimed that Shatter and the Israeli ambassador to Ireland had exposed the Oireachtas committee on Foreign Affairs to "propaganda, twisted logic and half truths". Ó Snodaigh also said that Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, would have been proud of it.[8] In February 2009, during a sitting of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs concerning the Gaza conflict, Shatter clashed verbally with Professor Ilan Pappé, Professor of History at the University of Exeter, accusing Pappé of biased scholarship and historical inaccuracies.[9]

Minister for Justice and Minister for Defence: 2011–2014

On 9 March 2011, Shatter was appointed by An Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny[10] as Minister with responsibility for two Irish Government Departments, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Defence. Under Shatter's steerage, a substantial reform agenda was implemented with nearly 30 separate pieces of legislation published, many of which are now enacted including the Personal Involvency Act 2012; National Vetting Bureau Act (Children & Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012; Criminal Justice Act 2011 DNA Database Act, the Human Rights and Equality Commission Act. Under his guidance, major reforms were introduced into Irelands’ citizenship laws and a new Citizenship Ceremony was created. During his time as Minister, 69,000 foreign nationals became Irish citizens. Shatter also took steps to facilitate an increased number of political refugees being accepted into Ireland and created a special scheme to facilitate relations of Syrian families already resident in Ireland who were either caught up in the civil war in Syria, or in refugee camps elsewhere as a result of the civil war in Syria, to join their families in Ireland.

In his role as Minister for Defence, he implemented substantial reform in the Department of Defence and restructured the Irish Defence Forces. He is a strong supporter of the Irish Defence Forces participation in international peacekeeping and humanitarian engagements and is an expert on the Middle East. As a member of the Irish Parliament and as Minister he has, on many occasions, visited Irish troops participating in UN missions in the Middle East.

During Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013, he chaired the Council of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) and, in January 2013, in Dublin Castle, the meeting of EU Defence Ministers. Under his guidance, Ireland played a more active role than in the past in EU defence matters and in deepening Ireland’s participation in NATO’s partnership for peace. Under his guidance, during the course of the Irish Presidency, substantial progress was made at European Union level in the adoption and development of new legislation and measures across a broad range Justice and Home Affairs issues.

In May 2011, he made a public statement in support of the RTÉ "Mission to Prey" Prime Time programme that defamed a priest which he later backtracked on.[11] That June, he apologised for "unfair and inaccurate" comments he made about RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds after saying he "consistently engages in tabloid sensationalism".[11][12] When eight former attorneys general criticised the proposed Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution on Oireachtas inquiries he described their views as "nonsense" and "simply wrong".[11]

One of Shatter's first tasks as new Minister of Justice in 2011 was dealing with the scandals of child abuse involving the Catholic church. Shortly after taking office, the Cloyne report which had been commissioned by the previous government to investigate clerical sex abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, was released. In response to this report and several other sex abuse scandals, the Fine Gael–Labour government announced controversial plans to criminalise failure to report an allegation of child abuse. Seán Brady, the Catholic primate of all Ireland, condemned this as compromising the Seal of the Confessional.

Shatter also introduced Citizenship ceremonies where new citizens swear an oath to the state and obtain their certificate of citizenship. The first ceremony was held in the Dublin Castle on 24 June 2011 with 73 new citizens in attendance.

On 3 March 2012, a convicted Garda killer escaped from low security open detention centre Loughan House in County Cavan, and fled across the border into Northern Ireland. Shatter later apologised and said "it should not have occurred."[13]

On the night of 18 March 2012, there was a break-in at Shatter's home in Ballinteer, Dublin.[14]

On 15 May 2013, Shatter criticised whistleblowers alleging widespread corruption in the Garda Síochána regarding the cancellation of penalty points. An investigation by the Garda Síochána into its own affairs proved that the allegations of corruption were correct. After several weeks of silence, Shatter publicly apologized to both of the whistleblowers in Dáil Éireann.[15][16]

GSOC bugging affair

In February 2014, the Irish edition of The Sunday Times' ran a series of stories claiming that the offices of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) had been bugged with a variety of highly sophisticated bugging equipment available only to government-level actors. GSOC's sole responsibility is to investigate wrongdoing in the Irish police force, the Garda Síochána, and there was widespread speculation that the Garda, or some rogue members or former members were responsible for the bugging to forestall investigations. John Mooney, the journalist who wrote the story, explicitly linked the bugging to GSOC's investigation of Garda handling of the case of Kieran Boylan, the convicted drug-runner who was assisted by gardaí in obtaining a passport, a haulage licence and had a prosecution for drug running terminated in extraordinary circumstances. Mooney reported that GSOC called in a specialist British counter-surveillance firm after a senior Garda, in a meeting with GSOC, let slip that he knew of information which GSOC staff had discussed including in a report, but had not actually included.

Shatter, as justice minister, has responsibility for both the Garda and GSOC. Statements he made in the aftermath of the revelation were sharply critical of GSOC, and made almost no mention of Garda behaviour. Shatter both questioned the conclusion that GSOC offices were bugged, and criticised it for not informing him of the bugging. He suggested GSOC offices had not bugged at all, suggesting that the source of the anomalies found was a WiFi signal from a nearby café, and he said that the Garda had been subjected to “baseless innuendo”.[17][18]

Connections with Oliver Connolly

Shatter appointed his campaign donor Oliver Connolly as the Garda Confidential Recipient, an office intended to receive complaints of wrongdoing confidentially from gardaí who have evidence of malpractice in the force. In February 2014, a transcript of a conversation between Connolly and Sergeant Maurice McCabe, a whistleblower emerged. In it, Connolly appeared to be repeatedly telling McCabe not to take any steps that would lead to the publication of wrongdoing that he was reporting. Connolly is quoted as saying “I’ll tell you something Maurice and this is just personal advice to you. If Shatter thinks your [sic] screwing him, you’re finished ... If Shatter thinks it’s you, if he thinks or is told by the Commissioner or the Gardaí here’s this guy again trying another route trying to put pressure on, he’ll go after you.”[19] On 5 February 2014 these comments were read into the Dáil record by Mick Wallace, the independent TD.[20]

Following the emergence of the GSOC bugging controversy, these comments were featured more prominently in news media. On 19 February, Shatter sacked Connolly as Garda Confidential Recipient.[21]

Guerin Report, resignation and loss of seat

On 7 May 2014, Shatter resigned as Minister for Justice and Equality and as Minister for Defence following receipt of the report of Seán Guerin into allegations made by Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe.[22]

Running in the Dublin Rathdown constituency Shatter lost his seat at the 2016 general election. Commenting on the result, he said: "We all got lost in fiscal space. That was the most bizarre commencement of a campaign that I have seen in my 30 years in politics."[23] He also criticised Enda Kenny.[24]



  1. "Mr. Alan Shatter". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  2. "Shatter: They still tell me to go back where I came from. So do they mean Rathgar?". Irish Independent. 28 January 2012.
  4. Israel may finally have some luck with the Irish
  5. Introducing Ireland: a serious visitor's guide with biographies of over 700 leaders, Mercier Press, 1992.
  6. "Shatter in bid to evict tenant from US home over rent row". Irish Independent. 17 September 2012.
  7. "Alan Shatter". Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  8. "Israeli envoy condemns TD's 'outrageous' Goebbels remark". The Irish Times. 14 January 2009.
  9. "Israeli-born academic clashes with Shatter over Gaza violence". The Irish Times. 12 February 2009.
  10. Enda Kenny
  11. 1 2 3 "Shatter in U-turn on his 'rash' support for Prime Time". Irish Independent. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  12. Mary Minihan; Noel Dundon (17 June 2011). "Shatter criticises RTÉ reporter". The Irish Times. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  13. "Shatter apologises for prisoner escape". Irish Examiner. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  14. "Break-in at Irish justice minister Alan Shatter's home". BBC News. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  15. Lally, Conor (16 May 2013). "Allegations of widespread Garda corruption on penalty points dimissed in new report". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  16. "Labour 'satisfied' with Dail Shatter response". Irish Independent. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  22. "Minister for Justice Alan Shatter resigns". Irish Times. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  23. "Alan Shatter expects another election within 18 months". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  24. Lyons, Niamh (3 March 2016). "Shatter blames taoiseach for election setback". The Times, Irish edition. Retrieved 3 March 2016.

External links

New constituency Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Dublin South
Succeeded by
Eamon Ryan
(Green Party)
Preceded by
Liz O'Donnell
(Progressive Democrats)
Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Dublin South
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Brendan Smith
as Minister for Justice and Law Reform
Minister for Justice and Equality
Succeeded by
Frances Fitzgerald
Preceded by
Éamon Ó Cuív
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Enda Kenny
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