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Saturday 19 October 2019

Gardai to fight watchdog's demands for full file access

Paul Williams

Paul Williams

THE garda authorities plan to strongly resist demands from its watchdog body to gain full access to the force's computer database and sensitive intelligence files.

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) yesterday called on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to grant it unfettered access to the garda Pulse system.

It was one of a number of recommendations GSOC sent to the minister concerning the operation and handling of informants following its four-year investigation into alleged collusion between gardai and drug trafficker Kieran Boylan.

But, last night, a senior garda source told the Irish Independent that Commissioner Martin Callinan would "robustly" fight the watchdog's demand.

Security

"The Pulse system contains a huge amount of sensitive information which must remain under the control of the national police force which is also responsible for national security," the source said.

"There are thousands of incidents, such as the details of domestic violence, which the citizens concerned would not want to be easily accessed by someone other than the gardai.

"We are already in the process of tightening up access to the system within the garda organisation to ensure that the privacy of individuals is not breached. This demand will be strenuously resisted," the source added.

Security sources revealed that the garda watchdog body already has direct access to the Pulse system through two garda superintendents who are permanently based in the GSOC offices in Dublin.

"These officers are there to cooperate with GSOC investigators and to provide them with information from the system," the source added.

The row over the garda computer system is set to deepen the already extremely fraught relationship between the force and GSOC.

It was sparked on Thursday when watchdog commissioner Kieran Fitzgerald blamed gardai for delaying the Boylan investigation.

He claimed that gardai had been slow to furnish documents and were generally uncooperative, a claim which the gardai have strenuously denied.

The remarks led to a furious row which has led to an almost complete breakdown in the relationship between GSOC and the gardai, with Mr Shatter stepping between them to make peace.

Senior garda sources confirmed last night that the garda authorities had supplied thousands of documents to GSOC in response to the 63 requests they had received during the Boylan inquiry.

Irish Independent

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