Alan Shatter was being too kind the other day when he described Dermot Ahern as a political gurrier not fit to hold ministerial office. He might more accurately have called the justice minister a political halfwit who has no place in Dáil éireann. Ahern's claim that Brendan Howlin and Jim Higgins had "ruined or at least damaged" the careers of two assistant garda commissioners, Tony Hickey and Kevin Carthy, by bringing false allegations about them to the Morris tribunal stands up to no scrutiny at all.

When Hickey retired from the force three years ago, he was the most powerful of all assistant commissioners, the ultimate boss of the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda National Drugs Unit and other important garda units.

Carthy remains as an assistant commissioner and is currently on secondment to the Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Co-operation.