Tuesday 24 April 2018

Gardai find no evidence of Moriarty phone tap

There is no evidence that phones at the Moriarty Tribunal were tapped, a Garda investigation has found.

Telecoms and surveillance officers were called in to examine if private lines, including that of inquiry chairman Judge Michael Moriarty, had been bugged in the weeks before his damning report was published.

He detailed how former minister and now Independent TD Michael Lowry passed on classified information in 1995 to billionaire Denis O'Brien during his successful bid for the State's second mobile phone licence.

Mr Lowry, who has faced repeated calls to resign over the scandal, was also found to have received a string of payments from accounts linked to Mr O'Brien.

Garda experts were called in after concerns were raised about the judge's phone in the Dublin Castle offices.

It is understood there appeared to be an echo on the line which sparked fears that someone outside had compromised security or was listening in.

In a statement, the Garda press office said: "An Garda Siochana has found no evidence of interference with the telephone system at these offices and consequently there is no ongoing investigation into the matter."

The Garda said its technical officers regularly carry out security checks in State offices and buildings as routine or on request. It said inspections can be either physical or on the technical infrastructure.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and several of his ministers have suggested Mr Lowry should resign his Dail seat. He topped the poll at the general election in his Tipperary North constituency last month.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn was the latest to call for him to go.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said allegations of phone tapping were serious.

"If the phone lines or the phones of the Moriarty Tribunal were being tapped that would be of course extremely serious," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"I haven't heard that that is the situation, if it was obviously it would have to be taken with the utmost seriousness and investigated in the first instance by the Minister for Justice (Alan Shatter)."

Ms Fitzgerald went on to dismiss any questions over the role played by one of the Taoiseach's closest advisers, Mark Kennelly, over the phone licence scandal. He was Mr Lowry's aide at the time it was awarded.

"He had no part whatsoever in the granting of the licence," the minister said.

Press Association

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