Garda Commissioner 'ill advised' to put husband on probe team
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan emphatically rejected suggestions gardaí were now monitoring journalists' phones.
"Absolutely not," said the senior garda during a visit to Templemore.
"The relationship between the Garda Síochána and the media is very important . . . We very much respect the role of journalists and the role of the media in making sure that the public interest is best served."
She said the new TRUST initiative aims to enhance and protect the relationship between the gardaí and the media.
She also defended the role of her husband in investigating alleged leaks of information to journalists. Detective Superintendent Jim McGowan is one of two senior gardaí leading the investigation.
A Garda superintendent has already been arrested and questioned as part of the probe.
"It is a matter of public record that my husband is a detective superintendent and any role that he carries out in An Garda Síochána is in that capacity," she said.
However, the appointment of her husband has been criticised as 'ill-advised' by TD Catherine Murphy.
The Social Democrat founder said: "It's questionable to be appointing someone as close as that. That is not going to add to her credentials".
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald signalled that Ireland will review key anti-hate crime regulations amid mounting concern over a spate of recent racially motivated attacks.
Ms Fitzgerald said that Ireland must promote equality and tolerance.
The Government is considering a full review of the 28-year- old Incitement to Hatred Act.
The minister and Garda Commissioner were speaking at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, where 97 new recruits had their passing-out ceremony.
Ms Fitzgerald said: "We do have the Incitement to Hatred Act, which is the appropriate legislation there.
"There is a report out suggesting the legislation may have gaps in it. I am certainly open to reviewing our legislation, as it does go back to 1987.
"I totally regret any race crime such as we have seen.
"Overall in this country, in terms of integration compared to other countries, we have been very lucky," Ms Fitzgerald said.
"Every race crime or hate crime has to be condemned unequivocally. It must also be dealt with appropriately."
Also at Templemore, Taoiseach Enda Kenny addressed new bail laws which promise to assist gardaí by forcing courts to explain bail decisions.
The major development will be an extended use of electronic tagging for people released on bail. At the moment, fewer than 40 people at any one time are subject to electronic tagging.
In the UK, more than 30,000 people are tagged at any time.