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Sunday 21 September 2014

Alan Shatter to appear before Public Service Oversight Committee over GSOC 'bugging'

Published 13/02/2014 | 18:38

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Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Photo: Collins
Justice Minister Alan Shatter

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has confirmed that he will go before a Dail committee to answer any questions they have about the alleged 'bugging' of the Garda Ombudsman Commission's offices.

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Mr Shatter was responding to the Public Service Oversight Committee who had heard from the Ombudsman Commission chairman, Simon O'Brien, yesterday.

 

Committee members said they still had concerns and needed to hear from the Minister.

 

 

Earlier, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore insisted no institution of the State was authorised to put the Garda Ombudsman's office under surveillance.

 

But the seven of the breakaway Reform Alliance, expelled from Fine Gael's parliamentary group, have mounted a fierce attack on the Government's handling of the controversy.

 

The Reform Alliance members said an independent organisation supervising the Gardaí was as important as an independent courts system or an independent police force.

 

During angry Dail exchanges, the Labour leader said that the Garda Ombudsman service should also have told Justice Minister Alan Shatter of its suspicions about surveillance late last year.

 

Mr Gilmore said the Garda Ombudsman Commission itself acknowledged it should have told the Justice Minister before he was left to read about it in a Sunday newspaper last week.

 

Under pressure from Fianna Fail's Niall Collins and Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald, the Tanaiste said the Government fully accepted that the Garda Ombudsman's office was completely independent.

 

He said the Government was concerned that there were even suspicions of surveillance being carried out on the Ombudsman's offices.

 

FF's Niall Collins said the Government had tried to downplay a very serious issue from the start and contradicted its own statements. 

 

SF's Mary Lou McDonald challenged Mr Gilmore to say clearly if he believed that no organ of State was authorised to spy on the Garda Ombudsman.

 

The Labour leader emphatically replied: "Am I satisfied that no organ of State put the Garda Ombudsman's office under surveillance? Yes I am," Mr Gilmore told the Dail.

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