Tuesday 20 March 2018

Gardaí using Pulse to look up gossip, claims Shatter

Accusation: Alan Shatter
Accusation: Alan Shatter

Niall O'Connor and David Kearns

Gardaí have described as "baseless" claims by former Justice Minister Alan Shatter that some members of the force used the Pulse system as a "social website" to obtain "gossip".

The Garda Representative Authority (GRA) last night questioned the accuracy of Mr Shatter's claims and called on the Fine Gael TD to provide supporting evidence.

Mr Shatter, who is defending his seat in Dublin-Rathdown, made the controversial remarks during a radio interview.

He alleged that the practice of gardaí accessing force database Pulse for social purposes was communicated to him during his tenure as minister.

Mr Shatter added that he asked the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to tighten controls surrounding the use of Pulse, which is the garda system used to record incidents of crime.

He also criticised the leaking of Pulse data to the media, citing a case in 2013 involving left wing TD Clare Daly.

Ms Daly was stopped by gardaí on suspicion of drink driving - but was later found to be under the limit.

"I thought it was entirely wrong when she was brought to a Garda station when it was wrongly believed - and I emphasise wrongly believed - that she was under the influence of alcohol, that all of that leaked into the papers and became a big issue," Mr Shatter told Pat Kenny on 'Newstalk'.

"What isn't generally known is that I raised that issue with the Garda authorities and I expressed concern as to how that came about. An issue around the Pulse system had already been a matter of concern and I asked what security was maintained on the system to ensure it was only appropriately used.

"I was subsequently advised … that in excess of 150 members of the force had accessed the Pulse system… some of them seem to think it was some sort of social website that they could look up for gossip purposes," he added.

GRA president Dermot O'Brien described the comments as "baseless".

"Pulse is used for policing purposes, it is not set up like a system like Facebook, far from it. Mr Shatter, from my knowledge, hasn't furnished any proof so I don't think he should be coming out with these baseless comments," Mr O'Brien said.

"He is talking about gardaí have been using resources in their own time. Well, Mr Shatter didn't resource us very well when he was minster," he added.

Irish Independent

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