Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence
Alan Shatter was elected to Dáil Éireann to represent Dublin South Constituency from 1981 until 2002, and from 2007 to date. He was appointed Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny on 9 March 2011.
Alan Shatter was educated at High School, Rathgar, and Trinity College Dublin where he obtained a law degree. He subsequently attended Europa Institute of the University of Amsterdam where he studied European Law, Politics and Economics. As a student, he was Director of the Crumlin Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) and later became Chairman of FLAC. He subsequently became Chairman of CARE (Campaign for Deprived Children), was a practising solicitor and partner in the law firm Gallagher Shatter for many years.
From the late 1970s, Alan Shatter was a leading family lawyer in Ireland. He published the main legal text on family law, 'Family Law in the Republic of Ireland', which is now in its 4th edition, and the best-selling novel "Laura" (1989). He is also a qualified mediator.
In Opposition, Alan was over the years the Fine Gael Front Bench Spokesperson on Justice and Law Reform; Children; Health; Environment; Labour; and Defence. During this time, he was a strong advocate for radical legal, social and environmental reform. For many years he was a leading member of the Joint Oireachtas Justice, Equality, Women's Rights and Defence Committee and of the Joint Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee. He also played a central role in the work of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children's Rights and in the framing of the Constitutional Amendment on Children's Rights.
Since his appointment as Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter has been engaged in a wide-ranging and reforming legislative agenda. To date, he has enacted 14 separate pieces of legislation. Among the most significant include:
- the Criminal Justice Act 2011 which implements crucial new reforms to facilitate the Gardaí in the investigation of white collar crimes;
- the Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011 which promotes the use of Community Service rather than imprisonment in appropriate cases;
- the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 which modernised the legislation in this area and established the much needed Insolvency Service of Ireland to provide support to those struggling with debt;
- the Criminal Justice (Withholding Information) Act 2012 which creates a criminal offence for withholding information on serious offences committed against children or vulnerable adults;
- the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 which provides for a mandatory vetting system for persons working with children or vulnerable adults, and
- the Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Act 2013 which provides for the granting of an amnesty and apology to those members of the Defence Forces who absented themselves, without leave or permission, to serve with forces fighting on the Allied side against Germany during World War II.
He is currently focused on the enactment of the Legal Service Bill to modernise and reform the legal professions; a new Courts Bill to modernise the court financial jurisdictions and to provide greater transparency to the administration of family law and is engaged in work to further amend the Constitution to provide for a new Court of Appeal. He will shortly publish the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill which will when enacted provide for a DNA database and appropriate safeguards on its use for combating crime, and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill to provide for an enhanced national human rights and equality agency.
Upon entering office, Alan Shatter tackled lengthy citizenship application backlogs and introduced, for the first time in this State, Citizenship Ceremonies to give proper recognition to the importance of the grant of citizenship.
Alan Shatter also oversaw the development and implementation of a new Garda Roster to ensure more Gardaí are on-duty during periods of greater policing demand, and the consolidation of the Garda Station Network to maximise the number of Gardaí engaging in frontline policing in our communities – investigating, detecting and preventing crime. This has resulted in an extra 61,000 patrol hours being available in 2013.
In the Defence area, Alan Shatter secured the agreement of Government to maintaining a Defence Force strength of 9,500, provided for the reorganisation of the Defence Forces into a two brigade structure and consolidated army barracks. He has also, with the approval of the Government, secured Defence Force UN engagements abroad in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia and Mali.
In the context of the Irish Presidency of the EU, he has as Chairman of the Justice and Home Affairs Council ensured substantial progress in the enactment of a variety of important measures across a broad range of areas and taken a lead role in important policy initiatives, including a higher priority being given to human rights issues in an EU context and tackling the problem of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia. On the Defence side, under Alan's leadership Ireland has played a dynamic role in the development of common European Security and Defence Policy and has sought to bring about a more coherent and coordinated engagement by the European Union and EU States in UN peace keeping and peace enforcement missions.