Action, not a review, is needed on snooping
The handling of the furore over the accessing of journalists' telephone records by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, has been characterised by ineptitude and indecision. When there was a need for action, there was prevarication, followed by more indecision and uncertainty.
We now learn that the scale and scope of the State snooping goes way beyond what had been thought, with as many as 6,000 phones having been subjected to the special powers.
The latest attempt to sort things out was announced yesterday after a presentation from Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. The 'response' - if that is not too strong a word - will take the form of a 'review'. Without prejudice to retired chief justice John Murray, who will head up the review, many will understandably ask why do we need more scrutiny and investigation? It is patently clear that anything that is an impediment to the public's right to know has no place in a democracy. Taoiseach Enda Kenny had already gone so far as to state that changing legislation that allows GSOC to access journalists' phone records may be necessary to protect sources.