| 9.1°C Dublin

GSOC's failure to identify its 'leaker' is a worry - Gardai

Close

Dermot O'Brien of the GRA

Dermot O'Brien of the GRA

Dermot O'Brien of the GRA

Gardai have raised fears about the security of confidential information they supplied to the Ombudsman Commission after the watchdog's failure to unmask the "leaker" in its ranks.

They say they are worried about where and when the leaker might strike again.

The rank and file members of the force highlighted their concerns after GSOC (Garda Ombudsman Commission) admitted that the identity of the leaker had not been established following an eight-month investigation and said no further action was being considered.

Those concerns were expressed yesterday by the president of the Garda Representative Association, Dermot O'Brien, who said: "We know they have a problem with a leaker and they can't find out the identity of the person responsible.

"Our main concern now is that we don't know when the leaker will resurface, what confidential information might be accessed and where it might emerge.

"We want assurances that the security of data involving our members will not be breached and handed over to another agency or organisation", Mr O'Brien said. "We also want to know who is accountable for GSOC", he added.

Gardai hand over large volumes of information on a regular basis about incidents which are under investigation by GSOC, in accordance with a memo of understanding agreed between the two organisations.

However, there have been tensions in the past about protecting the identity of garda informants when supplying the information to the watchdog.

The debacle over the leak of a high-security report, prepared by British firm Verrimus, into the possibility of the GSOC headquarters being bugged, has added to those concerns.

Under proposed government legislation, GSOC will now be given additional powers of investigation, including surveillance rights.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said yesterday that GSOC had a lot of work to do to build a relationship with the Garda Siochana and added: "It is critical we have a high functioning and good functioning Ombudsman".

She reiterated her disappointment at the failure to find the source of the leak and called again on GSOC to disclose as much detail as possible about the eight-month investigation.

Transparency

She said this should be put in the public arena in the interest of transparency although she accepted that there would have to be a huge level of redaction, given the amount of personal detail contained in the report, drawn up by senior counsel, Mark Connaughton.

She said it was a question of how coherent the report would be, when the personal detail had been taken out.

But she urged GSOC to make every effort to publish what it could, in the interests of informing people of what steps it had taken. A copy of the report was sent by GSOC to the minister although it is not obliged to do so, under the current legislation.

Irish Independent