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Monday 22 September 2014

Terms of reference of Garda phone tapes inquiry to include circumstances of Callinan resignation

Cabinet sign off on the areas to be examined, including tapes relating to Ian Bailey

Published 08/04/2014 | 13:25

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THE terms of reference for the garda phone tapes tribunal will include the circumstances surrounding the resignation of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, and the issue of tapes relating to Ian Bailey.

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The tribunal of inquiry will be headed by Supreme Court judge Nial Fennelly, who is to be given up to a year to complete the job.

The Government decided a fortnight ago to set up the judicial inquiry after it emerged that phone calls to and from more than 20 major garda stations across the country had been systematically recorded for a period of 30 years.

The practice ceased in November 2013, but it raises serious questions about many cases already decided in the courts, as well as matters currently undecided in the court system.

The terms of reference of the tribunal have been revealed this afternoon, after being signed off on by Cabinet earlier. 

The main issues to investigated are:

- the operation of telephone recording systems, to record calls other than 999 calls to the Emergency Call Answering Service, at a large number of Garda Stations over many years,

- the specific implications of the taping related to the Garda investigation into the death of Ms Sophie Toscan Du Plantier in County Cork in December 1996, and related matters,

- how these matters were dealt with by the responsible authorities,

- the sequence of events leading up to the retirement of the former Garda Commissioner in March 2014.

Of major interest will be the events which occurred over the two days which led to the resignation of Mr Callinan on March 25.

This issue has been extremely contentious, with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin insisting that the Government effectively sacked Mr Callinan.

The Taoiseach has said that he sent the secretary general of the Justice Department, Brian Purcell, to meet Mr Callinan on the evening of March 24 but the conversation between the two men has not been disclosed so far.

On the issue of public or private hearings, the 2004 Commissions of Investigation Act, which governs this inquiry, gives the judge wide discretion.

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