Calls at all divisional HQs were taped
Q GARDA chiefs shelled out more than half a million euro for a state-of-the-art digital recording system to be placed in stations around the country six years ago.
Official records reveal a company called Sigma Wireless Ltd, of Finglas, north Dublin, was awarded the lucrative contract to install the technology.
It was to be connected into existing telephone networks at HQ in Phoenix Park as well as in Harcourt Street - home to elite units, including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.
Other stations fitted out with the recording and archive technology include Anglesea Street in Cork; Drogheda; Castlebar; Bandon; Ennis; Fermoy; Henry Street in Limerick; Letterkenny; Mill Street in Galway; and Monaghan. Garda stations at Mullingar, Naas, Portlaoise, Roscommon, Sligo, Thurles, Tralee, Waterford and Wexford were also connected to the system, according to tender documents.
Closing date for the tenders was December 2007.
Separately, it has also emerged that calls in every garda divisional headquarters in the State were routinely recorded over the past three decades.
The practice was initially carried out to record bomb threats, coded warnings from subversive organisations, 999-type emergency calls and anonymous tip-offs.
It appears to have continued at the divisional stations, even though it was forgotten about by senior garda management – and in most cases, nobody bothered to listen to the tapes before they were stored and catalogued at local level.
Officers explained last night that the tapes were only used when there had been a call that fitted into the category for which the recording was introduced and that was very limited.