Fennelly: Listening to tapes may take 'decades'
THE commission set up to investigate the secret recording of telephone calls at garda stations says it could take "decades" to analyse all the recordings uncovered.
It has emerged Mr Justice Nial Fennelly wrote to the Taoiseach's office last year to explain that the scale of the tapes meant it "would not be feasible in any reasonable time-frame" to properly assess them all.
The commission was set up by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last year after the practice of recording calls at stations across the country was discovered.
Such automated recordings were made at 20 different garda stations between the years 1995 and 2013.
Mr Fennelly previously wrote to the Taoiseach requesting an extension on his report. He also updated Mr Kenny on how his investigation was proceeding.
The letter states there are two separate batches of tapes being examined. One lot relates to recordings made between 1995 and 2008.
This consists of 3,000 digital audio tapes (DATs) of 320 hours in duration each meaning a total recording time of 960,000 hours.
The letter also reveals there are just four machines in existence which can play back the recordings as they are encoded.
Mr Fennelly says it could take 27 years to listen to the recordings in their entirety.
A later batch of recordings were made using technology called NICE. Similarly, when talking about these, the former Supreme Court judge said that it was "likely that it will also run to many years in duration".
The letter also says the commission was looking at a sampling mechanism for examining the tapes.
The commission is investigating if gardaí illegally recorded phone calls between solicitors and clients while being held in garda custody.