independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Shatter: 'GSOC did not believe they were under surveillance when sweep ordered'

Alan Shatter
Alan Shatter

THE Garda Ombudsman Commission did not believe they were under surveillance when they first called in the experts to do a security 'sweep', the Justice Minister insisted today.

Mr Shatter told TDs at a special Oireachtas hearing that the experts contracted by the Ombudsman's office did wrongly believe that there had already been 'a breach of security systems' before they started work.

The Minister also cited several public statements by members of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) in which they publicly stated that they never believed that the Gardaí were engaging in misconduct or involved in surveillance. 

He cited statements by GSOC chairman Simon O'Brien and GSOC member Kieran Fitzgerald as saying this  quite clearly on several occasions.

"GSOC said they wanted to clearly and categorically say there was no evidence whatever of Garda misconduct," the Minister said.

Mr Shatter also said GSOC staff members misunderstood a conversation as saying that the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had confidential GSOC information.  This was quite simply wrong.

He also said that so-called 'government level equipment' suspected as being used in alleged surveillance was widely available.  "I'm advised it is available on the web for €5,000," he said.

The Justice Minister accused one TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, as being 'disappointed' the Gardaí were not found to be engaged in surveillance on GSOC.

Mr Shatter said the special investigation by a retired High Court judge would go ahead to resolve all conflicts of information - including different findings by two sets of security consultants.   He said the Judge's report would go via him to Cabinet and then be laid before the Dail and Seanad.

"So, there will be complete transparency," the Justice Minister said.

By John Downing and Daniel McConnell

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