Tuesday 27 September 2016

Timeline of scandal

Published 20/01/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. Credit:Frank Mc Grath
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. Credit:Frank Mc Grath

July 2013 - A complaint is made to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) by a friend of the late model Katy French alleging gardaí leaked a statement he had made about her death.

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Late 2015

Two journalists learn that their phone records have been accessed by GSOC officers investigating the leak allegations.

January 14, 2016

Reports emerge in the media about the snooping conducted on the two reporters' phone records.

The revelations prompt condemnation from the National Union of Journalists. Concerns are also expressed by Transparency International and Digital Rights Ireland.

January 15

Health Minister Leo Varadkar describes the revelations of snooping by GSOC as "a little bit odd and sinister" and "an infringement on freedoms".

Amnesty International calls for the law to be changed to introduce judicial supervision.

January 16

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald signals a review will be conducted within her department. It will look at the laws allowing An Garda Síochána, GSOC, the Defence Forces and the Revenue Commissioners to access the phone and email data of private individuals.

January 17

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin says that while a body such as GSOC is necessary, press freedom is a "fundamental pillar of our democracy".

January 18

Taoiseach Enda Kenny issues a stinging rebuke of GSOC's actions. He also says it may be appropriate to reform the legislation granting GSOC its snooping powers.

January 19

Ms Fitzgerald announces the review will no longer be conducted within her department, but by former chief justice John Murray.

He is to report within three months. The review is limited to the rules surrounding the accessing of the phone and internet records of journalists.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties welcomes the move but says it is just "a first step".

It says the law as it is applied to the wider public must also be reviewed.

Irish Independent

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