Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny is at the centre of a storm over claims he used his high-powered position to seek information about a family law action for a constituent.
There was an exchange of letters between him and Justice Minister Alan Shatter on the matter.
Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins said Shatter had behaved appropriately but his statement amounted to little more than political bluster. He pressed Kenny for an explanation.
Collins said: “The decision of the Taoiseach to use his position to seek information on behalf of a constituent in a family law case constitutes an outrageous failure of judgment.
“The Taoiseach instead needs to explain publicly the background to his involvement and apologize to the parties that could have been negatively affected by his intervention.”
Earlier Shatter described the Sunday Independent report as “inaccurate” and denied he was asked to “meddle” or “intervene” in a family law case.
Sunday Independent Editor, Anne Harris, said in a statement that she rejected “the content and tone” of Shatter’s comments.
She said that both the Taoiseach and Shatter were offered the opportunity to comment last Friday but only Kenny responded and his comments were published in full.
Harris said the newspaper stood by the story that the Taoiseach made representations on behalf of a constituent regarding an issue on family law and seeking details of the present position in the case.
Her statement said the correspondence from Minister Shatter released to the paper under the Freedom of Information Act referred to court registry records and that this correspondence was relied on in the story.
In his public statement, drafted with Kenny’s approval, Shatter said the Taoiseach had forwarded a letter from a constituent to him. In a covering note, Kenny had requested that Shatter examine the points raised in the constituent’s letter and advise him.
Shatter stated he did not tell Kenny that it was entirely improper for a member of the government to intervene. What he did state was that he hoped the constituent would understand it was entirely improper for a minister to intervene.
The Justice Minister said that he “ultimately” noted to Kenny that there was “a very substantial dispute resulting from a marriage unfortunately breaking down.”
Shatter added: “I am sure your constituent will understand that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the family dispute that has arisen.”