Specialist equipment to help trawl old tapes from garda offices
GARDAI are to bring in special equipment from abroad to help them examine old tapes of recordings from divisional headquarters around the country.
This will determine the extent of the phone recordings outside the known taping of 999 and other emergency calls.
It will also help establish whether any of the tapes included calls between lawyers and their clients or other conversations that could be relevant to criminal investigations.
Priority has been given to recordings at the Cork west divisional headquarters in Bandon to provide a response to an order of discovery made by lawyers on behalf of Ian Bailey, who is suing the State for wrongful arrest in connection with the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder.
Most of the older tapes are in a decrepit state and require the specialist equipment to produce transcripts.
The practice of recording calls on designated numbers in the divisional headquarters was stopped last October by the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan after the extent of the taping became apparent.
It had been in use for 30 years and the tapes were routinely stored but nobody bothered to listen to them unless the emergency calls were required for further inquiries.
One chief superintendent said yesterday he was confident the taping of conversations at his headquarters had not compromised any cases in his area.
Chief Supt Pat O'Sullivan told Radio Kerry he was "100pc" confident that no phone conversation between a solicitor and a client had ever been recorded at Tralee garda station.
Meanwhile, the Garda Representative Association, which caters for all rank and file gardai, said the recent controversies had further undermined the morale of those working at the frontline of policing.
President John Parker added that his association had supported the setting up of an independent police authority since 1979, but this had not happened.