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Shatter must shut up and listen now.

IF there was a competition to find the person who best exhibits Ireland's Them & Us attitude, Alan Shatter would win hands down.

On RTE's Drivetime last evening Mr Shatter helped the nation understand why the gardai are angry and frustrated.

In attempting to dispel claims he is arrogant, he only succeeded in reinforcing that belief.

While the minister is an engaging speaker, it appears he is an extremely poor listener who likes the sound of his own voice.

Instead of trying to defuse a delicate situation Mr Shatter only succeeded in widening the gulf between the force and the Government.

Accusing Garda representatives of doing a disservice to members by holding protests upset officers.

Instead of extending an olive branch he lectured them on their rights, or lack of them, to protest.

Now he has sanctioned disciplinary action against four sergeants who walked out on his speech - a move which has outraged the force.

No doubt Mr Shatter is a competent minister endeavouring to reform the justice system.

But his management skills leave a lot to be desired and now the relationship between the Government and gardai is at an all-time low.

Such is the state of his relationship with the force, rank-and-file officers represented by the Garda Representative Association have banned him from their gathering.

If Mr Shatter cannot modernise and reform the force without alienating those who put their lives on the line for the public, it might be time the Taoiseach found someone who can.
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Title Annotation:News; Opinion, Columns
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 28, 2013
Words:248
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