Details are stolen from 500,000 GAA members
A MAN was arrested for questioning yesterday after the personal details of more than half-a-million GAA members were stolen.
A major probe was launched after it emerged that there had been unauthorised access to a database containing the names and addresses of 501,786 GAA members and players.
In the case of 544 members, it also contained references to medical conditions. More than 167,150 of the members were under the age of 18.
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in the Republic assured people last night that no evidence had emerged that the information would be used for an illegal purpose or could be used on its own to perpetrate identity theft.
A spokeswoman for the GAA said the matter was being taken "very seriously". She stressed that the database did not contain any financial information.
The Belfast-based company, Servasport Ltd, which maintains the GAA's database of members, issued an apology.
The PSNI confirmed it had received a report of the theft of data on November 23 from a commercial premises in the York Street area of Belfast.
A man was arrested for questioning and released on bail pending further enquiries.
Data-protection officials are urging all affected GAA members to be cautious in relation to any "unsolicited contacts" they receive through the post, phone or via email.
The GAA confirmed that it had written to all 2,394 clubs throughout the country yesterday to inform them of the breach and individually to the 544 members whose medical conditions were listed.
The database, which was compiled over the last two years, holds:
- 288,511 dates of birth
- 107,212 mobile numbers
- 63,695 landline numbers
- 30,171 email addresses
The leak of information first emerged on November 19 when disks containing the database were received by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, the Information Commissioners Office in Belfast and the Gaelic Players' Association, who immediately passed them on to the GAA.
However, the GAA only began informing clubs and members yesterday in order to allow the PSNI time to investigate the matter.
A spokesman for Servasport Ltd said it was assisting both police and the Data Protection Commissioners with their investigations.
"We understand that the PSNI has made good progress with its investigations and we are very hopeful that this matter can be resolved speedily and with no misuse of the information ever taking place," a company spokesman said.
The GAA has also set up a dedicated information line at 1890 987 807 for any members concerned by the data breach.