Sunday 25 September 2016

Fianna Fail calls for details on how much garda time and resources going into investigating leaks

Published 20/01/2016 | 12:45

Niall Collins
Niall Collins

FIANNA Fáil’s justice spokesman Niall Collins has called for details of how much garda time and resources are dedicated to investigating alleged leaks of information to journalists.

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The Irish Independent revealed today there are at least eight investigations by gardai and the Garda Ombudsman seeking to identify journalist sources.

Speaking at the launch of Fianna Fáil’s general election justice policy, Mr Collins said he wants to know how much resources are being spent on these investigations.

“It is something I would like to know the answer to. If there were figures thrown at it we could have a discussion about it but I don’t know the cost or how many investigations are on-going,” he said.

Mr Collins said gardai are charged with investigating allegations and making operational decisions but said there also needs to be an “appropriate balance”.

He said there is a need to recognises people’s rights and the “freedom and independence” of the media.

Mr Collins drafted legislation which would introduce judicial oversight on the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) in cases when the watchdog is seeking to snoop on journalist phone records.

He also said Fianna Fáil would instruct the Garda Inspectorate to carry out a review of the closure of more than 90 garda stations before the party would reopen them.

Speaking at his policy launch, Mr Collins said: “The Garda Inspectorate should be brought in to do an impact analysis on the areas where Garda stations were closed to see the impact, and we know the impact of the areas where the garda stations were closed - crime has gone up.”

He also said Fianna Fail would bring Garda manpower up to 15,000 if the party was voted into government.

Fianna Fail senator Mary White said it was “folly” by former Justice Minister Alan Shatter to close Stepaside Garda Station in their constituency of Dublin Rathdown.

Ms White also called for gardai to be seconded to Luas stations to arrest suspected burglars.

The senator has in the past expressed support for a future Fianna Fáil coalition with Sinn Féin.

But when asked yesterday the generally outspoken politician said she could not give her opinion.

“The party view is that we will not go into coalition with Fine Gael or Sinn Fein,” she said

When pushed for her personal opinion, Ms White said: “I know what you are trying to get me to say but I can’t say it.”

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