Tuesday 21 November 2017

Tánaiste: Blame for garda controversies cannot be pinned on any individual

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Blame for the series of controversies engulfing the Gardaí cannot be pinned on any individual, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has said.

The Justice Minister said herself and Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan were working to “shine a light” on “endemic issues” such as rough phone tapping.

While indicating that she intends to fight back against criticism from opposition parties, Ms Fitzgerald said: “Of course the opposition are going to ramp up to the pressure and use the Commissioner to ramp up pressure on me, I would say that politics and political expediency aren’t going to sort out the very deep-seated issues in relation to An Garda Siochana.”

Her comments come after an Irish Independent investigation revealed gardaí tapped the phones of innocent people and a political activist.

Senior politicians from both Labour and Fianna Fáil  expressed concerns about the revelations.

However, Ms Fitzgerald said “politics and political expediency” would not resolve the problems facing the force.

“When you shine a light you see a lot things that were kept in the dark for a long period, and by previous governments. The issues for example in relation to Templemore and interception.

“The interception problems go back to the early 2000s. You had Fianna Fáil in government for 11 of the last 17 years,” she said.

“Templemore, we have had reports in 2008 and 2009. What action was taken then? The idea that somehow you blame people who are trying to shine a light and do the current reforms is simply not the way that we are going to get real reform.

“These are endemic issues and the idea of pinning responsibility onto any one person is simply not the way forward.”

Ms Fitzgerald said there are “no current concerns” of phones being tapped without the proper oversight.

“We have a High Court judge who oversees interception at present. I have no reason whatsoever to believe there are any current abuses in relation to that.

“The High Court has access to all the information, all of the material. It’s a very careful process that is used for security and serious criminal issues,” she said.

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