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exclusive Gardaí seize Dáil laptop in probe into viewing of child abuse material online

Internal Leinster House committees agreed to waive parliamentary privilege to enable gardaí to access computer contents via digital key

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The Dáil Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight signed off on the request for official documents. Photo: Karl McManus

The Dáil Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight signed off on the request for official documents. Photo: Karl McManus

The Dáil Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight signed off on the request for official documents. Photo: Karl McManus

Gardaí have seized a laptop from a man who works for a TD and is accused of viewing child abuse material.

Two internal Leinster House committees were this week asked to waive parliamentary privilege that applies to politicians’ documents in order for gardaí to access the Oireachtas-issued laptop.

The man accused of viewing the child abuse material online has not been arrested but is being investigated for alleged breaches of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act.

The man works for a TD, who is not accused of any wrongdoing and is not being identified for legal reasons.

Investigating officers are examining any electronic device the man owns or has access to.

An Garda Síochána confirmed in a statement: “Gardaí in the North West are currently investigating allegations made against a male from the area relating to the viewing of child abuse material online contrary to the provisions of Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998.”

The TD, who is the man’s employer, and two little-known Oireachtas committees made up of TDs and senators were required to waive parliamentary privilege, which applies to all documents belonging to members of the Oireachtas, in order to allow gardaí to gain access to the laptop and its contents using an Oireachtas-issued digital access key.

The Dáil Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight (CPPO) signed off on the “request for official documents” at a short meeting on Tuesday evening as the Budget was being debated in the Dáil chamber.

The equivalent Seanad committee met briefly yesterday to sign off on the same request.

Members of both committees were given a verbal briefing on the request from An Garda Síochána by the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Adviser and were told it was a “serious indictable offence”.

However, neither of the two committees was informed of the nature of the alleged offence, nor the names of any of those involved, including the TD whom the man works for or their party affiliation.

“At the outset we were told they were not getting into names,” a source told the Irish Independent.

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Both committees consented to providing the access key to gardaí with two conditions: that the information could only be used for the purposes stated by gardaí in making their request, and that a court order be provided to underpin their request to access the documents.

A spokesperson for the Houses of the Oireachtas said: “We are not in a position to comment on the confidential proceedings of CPPO of either House.”


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