Saturday 19 August 2017

Justice Minister receives report into GSOC accessing journalists' phones more than a year overdue

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald addresses the GRA conference. Photo: Conor Ó Mearáin
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald addresses the GRA conference. Photo: Conor Ó Mearáin
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has received the report she ordered 15 months ago from Chief Justice John Murray into the legislation behind the accessing of journalists phones by GSOC.

She gave Justice Murray three months to come up with the report in January last year, making it more than a year overdue.

The minister has forwarded the report to the Attorney General and said she will make a statement on it today.

The controversy arose after it emerged that the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) obtained the phone records of two journalists following a complaint from an associate of the late model Katy French.

Civil rights groups and the National Union of Journalists have strongly criticised legislation which dates from 2011 and gives GSOC the power to access such records without informing the journalists.

In a statement released this afternoon, the Department of Justice confirmed that Ms Fitzgerald received the report.

"The Tánaiste has forwarded a copy of the report to the Attorney General for her consideration, particularly against the background of recent findings by the European Court of Justice in this area of law. Following that the Tánaiste will bring Mr. Justice Murray’s report to the Government with a view to its publication.

"The Tánaiste is grateful to Mr. Justice Murray for his extensive work, carried out on a pro bono basis, leading to this comprehensive review of the complex and evolving law in relation to data retention."

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