Ireland’s Minister for Justice has accused one of the country’s leading newspapers of mounting a ‘witch hunt from the McCarthy era’ against him.

Minister Alan Shatter made the accusation after telling the paper that he would ‘not engage in a media project to compile a blacklist of elected TDs that Ministers should not meet on legitimate official business’.

Shatter made the comments after the paper claimed he had refused to reveal if he had met controversial Independent TD Michael Lowry.

“As Minister for Justice I am not participating in Independent Newspapers’ agenda,” he said.

“A particular agenda by Independent Newspapers has been in play for some time.

“As Minister for Justice it is my obligation to uphold the rule of law. The Garda (police)

Commissioner is consulting with the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether aspects of the Moriarty report may be pursued from a criminal point of view and as Minister for Justice I am determined to ensure that I neither do nor say anything that could prejudice matters.

“This is entirely consistent with my contribution in the Dáil to the debate on the Moriarty report.”

The Minister then claimed that a question had been posed to him by an Independent journalist ‘designed to elicit a response that facilitated the publication of a story that either condemned Mr Lowry or implied guilt by association or both’.

Shatter added: “I am unwilling to engage in an unethical media project of compiling a blacklist of elected TDs that Ministers should not meet on legitimate official business and also with whom no conversations should ever take place.

“It is worth asking in this context, in addition to Michael Lowry, who from Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and TDs from smaller parties and none should be included in such a list?

“Should Ministers only legitimately engage with those TDs with whose words and deeds, both past and present, they agree or with those approved by the media?.

“This is a slippery slope down which the political system must not be allowed to slide.

“It has echoes of the discredited McCarthy era of the 1950s in US politics. We should not allow such an approach to gain even a foothold in a robust constitutional democracy that takes political elective office and constituency representation seriously.”

Justice Minister Alan ShatterPA