Saturday 25 November 2017

Callinan: I raised concerns with GSOC about 'sensitive leaks'

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan has confirmed he raised concerns with the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) about “sensitive leaks” to a journalist from the organisation last year.

Mr Callinan, whose fractious relationship with the Garda oversight body surfaced last week over reports of suspected bugging, said a series of articles over a “protracted period of time.”

In a statement, Commissioner Callinan said: “I became concerned about a number of articles which appeared over a protracted period of time that appeared to indicate that a particular journalist was privy to highly sensitive information concerning high profile investigations being undertaken by GSOC.

"In that context, I raised those concerns with the Commission,” he said.

Resonding to suggestions that bugging may have been done using equipment only available to Government agencies, Commissioner Callinan said given the tight internal controls governing the use of the surveillance equipment used by An Garda Síochána, “I am completely satisfied that there was no unauthorised access to this equipment.”

He said: “The importance of having an independent and effective investigative body to ensure that Irish citizens continue to have trust in An Garda Síochána cannot be overstated.

"The ongoing respect and trust from communities nationwide is something An Garda Síochána work hard at to achieve, that we never take for granted, and it is our intention to maintain it.

"I see the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission as having a valuable role in this respect.”

“I fully support the statutory role of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and I remain committed to the implementation of the provisions of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and this includes re-enforcing my commitment to working closely with GSOC so that we can both fulfil our respective statutory obligations,” Commissioner Callinan restated. 

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, speaking on RTE’s The Week in Politics, said he was satisfied that no organ of the State was involved in the bugging of GSOC.

His statement comes as it has emerged that the controversial GSOC investigation report into suspicions that its office was being 'bugged' by gardai inaccurately states that the security sweep was undertaken because of comments made by a "third party".

The Sunday Independent has reported that the third party is the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. GSOC will vehemently deny this was the reason for the probe.

GSOC says it launched the sweep for altogether different reasons – concerns over leaks of sensitive information on investigations and "a strategic decision" to publicly criticise Garda management.

This afternoon, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has said that it wants to “move on” from the bugging controversy.

In a statement, GSOC said it wanted to focus on the work it was set up to do.

It said: "The current controversy has dominated the Ombudsman Commission's focus for the past week.

"The Commission believes that it is now time to prioritise the important work we were appointed to undertake as an independent statutory agency."

The scandal has dominated the political agenda since a report in The Sunday Times last weekend.

Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

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