Friday 23 March 2018

Focus on suspicions 'side-steps' core issue – watchdog

Fianna Fail Justice spokesperson Niall Collins
Fianna Fail Justice spokesperson Niall Collins
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has criticised the independent inquiry into the Garda Ombudsman bugging allegations.

Director of the human rights watchdog, Mark Kelly, said it was "striking" that no member of An Garda Siochana or the Defence Forces was interviewed as part of the investigation.

"The retired judge's exclusive focus on whether or not GSOC's levels of suspicion regarding surveillance were well-founded entirely side-steps the core question of whether or not any agency of the State sought or obtained permission to engage in surveillance of our independent police complaints authority," Mr Kelly said.

He criticised what he described as "a report that merely revisits a range of more or less plausible explanations for communications anomalies, without even attempting to compare them with information readily available to the police and military intelligence services".

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail Justice spokesman Niall Collins called for a full examination of the Cooke report by the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

Mr Collins wrote to the committee's clerk asking that Judge Cooke be invited to attend a hearing as soon as possible.

"Serious questions remain about the handling of the GSOC controversy," he said.

"I believe it's essential that we hear directly from Mr Justice Cooke about his investigations, the remit of his inquiry, his findings and his recommendations."

Mr Collins claimed the Government sought to "control" the controversy since 'The Sunday Times' first published the bugging allegations.

"I believe that rather than rely on government spin, we need to give the all-party Justice Committee an opportunity to speak to Mr Justice Cooke directly," he added.

Irish Independent

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