jump to navigation

Does this make sense? May 20, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Uncategorized.
trackback

On Mr Shatter’s use of the personal information relating to Mr Wallace, Mr Kenny said: “I want to make it clear that the Minister for Justice is not in a position of collecting files on any individual or any member of the House or anybody else.” The Taoiseach said that as a general background to the penalty points discussion “it was brought to his [Mr Shatter’s] attention” that discretion had been applied on fixed penalty points and that was “relevant information to the general discussion here”.

“People cannot have it both ways. You cannot be saying that there should be no discretion used and at the same time avail of discretion,” he said.

But that’s not really the point is it? To put it mildly. I wonder could this cause real long term political damage for both Shatter, Kenny and FG. The response from some in the LP is telling, that which most would expect in such a case, a sense that there’s something deeply inappropriate going on here.

Comments»

1. itsapoeticalworld - May 20, 2013

Political policing, is it not ? The issue is that a TD seeking investigation of possible Garda malpractice has been targeted in a personal way by the Minister for Justice, apparently relying on police sources. Use of the police force for a political agenda. This is quite clear when taken together with the Clare Daly affair, Shatter, the Gardai and the media all have questions to answer, but it is serious for Shatter.

Like

2. que - May 20, 2013

and what about the presser from Shatter that Wallace was using confidential information. A real issue here no doubt but is there the chance to push it to a conclusion and force a resignation because thats whats really required here. Link that to handcuffing an under the limit Claire Daly and you begin to see a pattern. As the Sindo, (spits on floor) wrote yesterday will everyone else who criticises the govt. now need to watch their backs.

Like

3. Ghandi - May 20, 2013

I think the key point here is that the discretion was used at the roadside, in a similar way if you were stopped at a checkpoint with tax out of date, some cops would give you an on the spot, others would say go on and sort it out. likewise if stopped doing a few miles over the limit the same might apply. Information on RTE this morning indicated that Wallace was spotted at the five lamps on the phone and a Garda car pulled up beside him in traffic and they just nodded to put down the phone.

One would not expect that there would even be any record of this, and nor that the cops would even remember it or take note of it, the fact that the opposite appeares to be the truth should be of grave concern to ordinary citizens.

Also watching Wallace on with Shatter, I was shocked at his level of incoherance, was it worse that usaul. More surprising was that he did not see the immediate significance of what Shatter had just said, even though the plank pointed it out to him and was attempting to lead him there.

Like

4. itsapoeticalworld - May 20, 2013

Gossip, in which case how did it reach Shatter, or a written report, which as you say would be slightly freaky.

Like

5. CL - May 20, 2013

Is there some important public interest why this information should not be in the public domain?
All the Irish Times had to do was ask the Gardai and it received the information. So its O.K for the I.T to receive the information but not for the MInister for Justice? Why?
“Garda sources told The Irish Times the incident referred to by Mr Shatter occurred in May 2012 when Mr Wallace was driving in Dublin’s north inner city.

The Wexford TD was seen using his mobile phone while driving. A garda exercised his discretion to allow Mr Wallace to continue driving after a verbal warning.”
http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/wallace-accuses-shatter-of-trying-to-discredit-him-1.1398878

Like

RosencrantzisDead - May 20, 2013

My understanding from that piece is that the IT did not obtain the information from an official channel or the Garda Press Office. Rather, they obtained it from an unnamed Garda source.

I don’t think you can say it is ‘OK’ for the IT to have it. I strongly doubt a member of AGS is going to come out and name themselves as the IT’s or Alan Shatter’s source.

Like

sonofstan - May 20, 2013

I suppose the other question that isn’t being asked much, and the point Shatter was trying to make with his spectacular own goal, is why wasn’t Wallace stopped and issued with a fixed penalty notice? I know plenty of drivers for whom the use of a mobile phone has been punished in this way and, furthermore, this has been used as a pretext to stop and search the car and/ or the driver and look for proof of ownership etc.

The passing on of this information may or may not open a disturbing vista about how the government goes about collecting info on TDs who might be assumed to be agin them, but it also shows up the all too familiar picture of well known person driving a fancy car getting away with something that a teenager driving a modified Honda Civic at or near the 5 lamps would be unlikely to get away with.

Like

Ghandi - May 20, 2013

I don’t think thats totally true SOS, I think form my own experiences its seems quite random whether they will stop you or not, ofter depending whether they have anything better to do. One is as likely to get away without being stopped as one is to being stopped.

Like

6. Ghandi - May 20, 2013

The point CL is that most citizens would be stunned to find out that a non incident is recorded. Those of us involved in Republicanism over the years are well aware of the branch type notes of whose talking to who and where you are spotted and that detailed notes were kept, but then we were opposed to the state. This is much more sinister, and raises the sceptre that was he spotted and a note was taken by the cops for to be used at some time in the future.

As I said earlier Wallace did not seem to realise what was afoot at the time ( on Primetime).

Like

Forbenius - May 20, 2013

Hmmm, if being caught using a mobile phone illegally and getting the benefit of discretion is a ‘non-incident’, then why was there a need for a Garda enquiry in the first place? Just thousands of ‘non-incidents’, nothing to see here!
Also uniformed members of the Traffic Corps noting illegal driving is a completely different kettle of fish to clandestine surveillance by branch-men interferring with free association within the bounds of the law.
And the implication by Wallace that he was let off because of the scintillating small talk he shared with the Garda (suddenly remembered in vivd detail), well that’s Mick for you.

Like

Ghandi - May 20, 2013

there was no enquiry into the Wallace allegation, the enquiry was into penalty point letters being issued with the points and fines and then being removed. With Wallace there were no penalty points applied in the first place, two totally different scenarios. a non incident in the case of wallace/

Like

7. Ghandi - May 20, 2013

Considering this

http://www.thejournal.ie/wallace-shatter-penalty-points-917089-May2013/?utm_source=shortlink

Is there more to come out, as Wallace seem to be reluctant to go for it.

Like

shea - May 20, 2013

what can wallace go for on this? there is no deformation in it unless there is a suggestion that curruption is involved. if it happened is it not fair comment. the sinister thing is how the information came to the publics attention. shatter making him self out to be j edger hoover for the 26 counties with his control of intelligence on individuals, which given he is minister for defence and justice rolled into one he is probably not far wrong in thinking of himself as such. all wallace can really do is make the minister out to be a prick for releasing the information in the manner he did, ask suggestive questions like what files are held on other opponents of the government inside and outside len hse and how is such information used, what does the minister know about other people that he has with held from public discussion and why. bar the general line about the control of information i don’t see what personal line wallace can take on it.

Like

Ghandi - May 20, 2013

No one suggested defamation, well not here anyway, the key thing still being missed is that this very low level stuff has found its way to the Minister’s ear and he has used it in a political way, to rubbish criticism of a flawed inquiry into the penalty points wipe out.

The whistleblower is the one who has paid the price, it goes to re-enforce the view that the institutions of state or otherwise will still protect themselves. If this type of stuff is making its way up the chain of command what else is, and how much resourses are expended on this type of stuff. It’s a bit more that someone told me such and such at teh bar.

Like

shea - May 20, 2013

yeah i get that no one mentioned deformation, my point was that other than generalities about how information is used or collected i can’t see other options for him ‘to go for it’ nothing illegal in what shatter done, wallace got a warning, it happened. though possibly unbecoming of his office or something like that.

yeah not the first time that has happened to a whistleblower in the gardai. on how information is corrolated from my own experience i had ‘verbal warnings’ from various protests over the years come back on us for a public order offence, nothing major but some of them do get documented against your name etc. if i have a file with tedious stuff on it then presume most people do as well. may be as simple as the minister picking up wallaces file and reading it. or that guess could be off the mark.

Like

smiffy - May 20, 2013

“nothing illegal in what shatter done”

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Could be a breach of data protection (never mind that the Guards do it all the time).

Like

Ghandi - May 20, 2013

That’s the thing Shay isn’t it, Shatter picking up the file, while we all have files on us I would not expect that uniforms, pulling up beside me in traffic would note it, different to the Branch seeing you at a bus stop etc., and noting what busses stop there etc. Considering that in teh Daly affair (no pun intended) the cops said they didn’t recognise her no one has said whether or not the knew Wallace, though I admit not many with his hairstyle driving a black S500 heading towards Clontarf.

Like

shea - May 20, 2013

smiffy
iam not sure it is a breach. if iam wrong i will put my hands up, but think shatters mistake is more presentation than legal.

ghandi
if wallace was given a warning i presume the gardai took his name, adress or asked for his licence and checked his licence number. All the uniformed officer had to do was record them. i would expect them to do that on at least one if not all of those points. over time information gets accumulated against your name and goes it to a file. think thats more likely than wallace being tageted for driving with a phone which is a bit of an addition to your earlier points if wallace was targeted for being wallace is one thing how information is corrolated is another. This incident allows Wallace or anyone in the public space have the opportunity to ask how the state manages information and get a clue into their mindset of what they concider fair usage of that intelligence, other than that i don’t see what more can be got out of this issue.

Like

shea - May 20, 2013

sorry should have been reg number

Like

8. Ghandi - May 20, 2013

Again having been stopped more times than I care to remember over the years, not so much now, and experiences as far ranging as taking the car apart to not even noticing that the tax or nct was out of date it seems very hit and miss. I don’t think that I would have remembred an incident as outlined by Wallace, though if someone reminded me I might then. Also the Five Lamps is on North Strand not North Circular and would be on Wallace’s way home.

A cop car pulling up beside you and teh event hapening as described would seem to me to be a very regular occurance. The question is how & why its reached Shatter and is this now common practice.

Like

9. Is That Why The Gardaí Wear Blue Shirts? | An Sionnach Fionn - May 20, 2013

[…] through confidential information passed on to the Minister of Justice by the Gardaí themselves? Nothing dodgy looking about that at all. And one is sure that the would-be “naming and shaming” of Mick Wallace TD is […]

Like

10. Ghandi - May 20, 2013

“This wasn’t private information. I was required to get a full briefing from the gardaí on everything to do with the fixed ticket charge issue, and much to my surprise this came up.”

But Wallace being stopped or spoken to at traffic lights was not a fixed ticket charge issue as no charge was going to or did issue.

http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/shatter-i-didnt-use-private-information-on-wallace-driving-incident-594992.html

Like

11. irishelectionliterature - May 20, 2013
12. Ghandi - May 20, 2013

IEL not so far fetched as the RUC are buying two new camera dromes at £1m for teh G8 so he will be well able to watch us all sleep and keep an eye over us, Shatter the new guardian angel.

Like

13. CL - May 21, 2013

Why should not illegal acts, such as using a phone while driving, be public information? What public purpose is served by keeping such acts secret? Information on such acts is not ‘personal data’. The public has a right to know who is breaking the law and how such law breakers are dealt with by the police. Lets have more transparency; sunlight is a good disinfectant.

Like

smiffy - May 21, 2013

The question here is not whether information on such acts should be personal data or not. Maybe it shouldn’t be. That’s a reasonable argument. However, the point is that it currently is personal information at present. Similarly, if we’re going to have a free-for-all where everything a Garda states is made public, shouldn’t there be some kind of process whereby the statements are verified before the information is released?

Like

RosencrantzisDead - May 21, 2013

There are two different arguments here, CL.

The first one is that all of this information should be released into the public domain (like the US) and its concealment or redaction should only be authorised where necessary. I agree that we have a state that is too secret and too opaque; one of the most opaque is probably An Garda Siochana, who have a policy of secrecy that would make you think they were fighting the Cold War. This is an important argument, but it is a discussion about the way things should be.

The current controversy stems from the way things are: neither you nor I can approach the Garda Commissioner or someone lower in the hierarchy and ask about if whether any Fianna Fail or Fine Gael TDs have been stopped for penalty points or have been informally cautioned relating to driving offences or any other offence. Were we to do so, we would be told to ‘go forth and multiply’. The recent events however tell us that this rule does not apply to everyone. Alan Shatter came by this information and was able to use it for political gain. This is wrong as it abuses the advantages a government minister obtains qua their office. It may be that the cure to this problem is found in the answer to the first question, but it has to be acknowledged that the current state of affairs is wrong.

Like

CL - May 21, 2013

So the Irish Times can obtain the information from the Gardai and release it to the public, but the minister for justice can’t? Mighty peculiar.

Like

RosencrantzisDead - May 21, 2013

You presume the Irish Times obtained this via an official or proper channel.

More likely, someone spoke to an anonymous Garda source who fed them the information. In fact, the relevant piece in the Irish Times states:

Garda sources told The Irish Times the incident referred to by Mr Shatter occurred in May 2012 when Mr Wallace was driving in Dublin’s north inner city.

I pointed this out in a previous comment.

For an insight into how this can possibly work, you may wish to refer to here:

http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/about/

Module 2 may be relevant.

Like

WorldbyStorm - May 21, 2013

I think there’s another aspect too. From Wallace’s account this was an informal meeting where it is entirely possible the question of points never arose. I hold no brief for the man, but I think it only reasonable that he (or any individual) would have been put through an open clear-cut process that allowed him to know precisely what he had done, and if any actions had been taken to remove potential sanctions from him, so that he wouldn’t be sandbagged by a politician who happened to be a Minister for political gain. Indeed I’m certain any of us would want a proper paper trail in evidence so that we knew ahead of time if any such likelihood were to occur. None of that was in place. It’s simply wrong the way this has played out and I suspect were it anyone but MW in the focus the public anger and concern though not insignificant would be considerably greater.

Like

CL - May 21, 2013

If somebody is stopped by the police for illegally using a phone while driving thus endangering others it is in the public interest that this be made public. All due process should of course be meticulously observed in any subsequent action by the authorities. I just don’t get this conflating of law breaking with ‘personal data’.

Like

WorldbyStorm - May 21, 2013

It’s definitely personal data if it is an unrecorded event – or an event where there has been no proper paper trail and communication with the person at its heart by the Gardai subsequently, but is used as a political attack.

Like

Ghandi - May 21, 2013

The thing is he wasn’t stopped,in that he wasn’t pulled over and his details taken, simply it appears to me that he was stopped at traffic lights they happened to pull up beside him and motioned to him to let down the window, no one got out of either car, pleasanteries were exchanged and both drove off. The same way as they might motion to someone to put on a seat belt. Some cops would issue a penalty points notice others would let it go once you complied, depending on what humour they were in. It must happen hundred’s of times a day, are we to believe that a note is taken of all those incidents.

At no time does it apper taht there was any question of points being issued.

The difference between what was initially raised in the Dail was where notices had issued with teh mandatory fine & points and were then recinded, most citizens would have understood that the only way to dispute the notice was to deal with it in Court not write to your local friendly senior cop,

Like

14. steve white - May 21, 2013

wallace said once you get points you should go to court to deal with them. he didn’t say no discretion should ever be used.

Like

WorldbyStorm - May 21, 2013

Exactly, an open process.

Like

15. RosencrantzisDead - May 21, 2013

By the by, would anyone here like to take a stab at explaining how a decision by a member of An Garda Siochana, without any interference or input from Wallace, to not issue a fixed penalty notice to Mick Wallace makes a hypocrite of Mick Wallace?

Like

16. Joe - May 21, 2013

I think this whole thing is another example of a culture that exists within the Garda. A culture of gossipmongering.
I don’t know very many Gardaí but I sort of knew one who used to revel in this. Whenever anything of interest was happening – political, showbiz, whatever – he revelled in being able to tell his circle the “inside story”.
The other revelation recently by the Data Commissioner – that Gardaí were regularly accessing the Pulse system to get info on various celebrities, not for any official reason but just out of curiousity. And you can bet that same Gardaí gossiped that info to friends.
That might be fairly benign gossip but the Wallace and similar cases are much more serious.

I’m not saying all cops do this but there is that culture there and it is tolerated. There should be clear rules and systems in place about what info should and should not be recorded and clear lines about how that info is used, who it is shared with and so on.

Like

Ghandi - May 21, 2013

Joe gossip all the way up to the Commissioner and into a briefing for the Minister is a bit more unusal than cop or journo gossip, where they know “everything”, it normally just makes it way into the rags not immediately onto Primetime via a Minister

Like

Joe - May 21, 2013

True, Ghandi.

Like

17. CL - May 21, 2013

Wallace was engaged in an act in violation of the law. He has acknowledged that he was the beneficiary of Garda discretion in respect of this act.
‘The Law’ emanates from a public legislature, the law is public regulation of behaviour.
Violation of the law is thus inherently public. Privatizing inherently public acts as ‘personal data’ does not serve the public interest. As the current controversy about penalty points etc shows it is precisely this privatization of public information which gives rise to favouritism, abuse of discretion and unequal application of the law.

Like

18. Ghandi - May 21, 2013

and North Strand in the news again today

http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/home-made-bomb-parts-discovered-in-dublin-595113.html

though it took the Staters 2 hours to clear a non viable device, I could think of a few about the area who would have looked at it and decided that in a couple of minutes, and dealt with it. No expenses or disruption in that.

Like

19. TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - May 21, 2013

I don’t know which is funnier – the irony or the absolutely horrific prose.

Never knew he was an “author” (using the loosest definition possible).

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/fifty-shades-of-alan-shatter-steamy-novel-by-justice-minister-referred-to-censor-29284409.html

Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: