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Friday 19 September 2014

Gardai call for GSOC officials to resign after 'loss of all confidence'

Paul Williams

Published 28/06/2014 | 02:30

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GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien
GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien
Damian McCarthy

GARDAI in one of the country's biggest divisions have called for the three Garda Ombudsman Commissioners to resign on foot of the Cooke Report into alleged bugging.

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Dublin officers say they have "lost all confidence" in the GSOC leaders and want them to leave with "immediate effect".

Rank-and-file members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) claim the findings of the report show that GSOC's probe into allegations of surveillance at its offices was "flawed and amounted to a neglect of duty".

At a meeting yesterday, the committee representing 1,000 officers in the Dublin South Central Division proposed a motion of no confidence in the commissioners.

In the first major statement on the Cooke Report by a garda body, the GRA said it acknowledged the importance of independent oversight.

But it deemed the removal of the commissioners necessary to restore confidence and trust.

Damian McCarthy, the divisional representative on the GRA's Central Executive, said his members had "lost all confidence" in the GSOC commissioners to "conduct its investigations in a fair and impartial manner".

He told the Irish Independent: "The South Central Divisional Committee discussed the findings of the Cooke Report in detail and it is clear that there is evidence that the GSOC Public Interest investigation into alleged bugging was flawed and amounted to a neglect of duty.

"If a member of An Garda Siochana carried out an investigation in the same way then he/she would face a charge of neglect of duty under the code of discipline."

He added that the effect of the leaked bugging allegations and the clear inference that it was being done by gardai had "seriously undermined public confidence in the force".

"Therefore they were obliged to make every effort to identify who was conducting the surveillance to either eliminate or include gardai as part of their inquiry."

The GRA members said it appeared from studying the report that GSOC officials made no effort to preserve CCTV footage in the area of their Central Dublin offices when they claimed to have spotted suspicious activity.

According to the Cooke Report, watchdog officials reported seeing a suspicious white van parked across the road from their offices on October 20 last year.

They also told the retired High Court judge that they spotted a number of men who appeared to have them under surveillance.

Operatives from the Verrimus Security company hired to investigate possible bugging also claimed they were photographed in Dublin Airport.

"We want to know why the officials didn't take the registration of the van and we want to know why the CCTV in the area wasn't canvassed and preserved as evidence in an effort to identify these mystery men," said Mr McCarthy.

Accused

Mr McCarthy also accused GSOC chairman Simon O'Brien of giving contradictory information at an Oireachtas Public Service Oversight Committee meeting in February.

Mr O'Brien told the Dail Committee: "We have no information that anyone has reported that they have felt they were under surveillance."

However, GSOC officials told Judge Cooke in his subsequent inquiry they suspected that they had been under physical surveillance on October 20.

Mr McCarthy said: "These differing accounts clearly need to be explained."

The no confidence motion has been forwarded for inclusion on the agenda for the next scheduled meeting of the National Executive of the Garda Representative Association.

Irish Independent

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