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Editorial: Unsatisfactory end to Garda bugging probe

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Garda Siochana Ombudsman Chairman Simon O'Brien

Garda Siochana Ombudsman Chairman Simon O'Brien

Garda Siochana Ombudsman Chairman Simon O'Brien

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman's Commission 'affair' has finally ground to a halt, with the final of three investigations into the so-called 'scandal' that brought about the downfall of the then-Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and the early retirement of the then-Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan ending with a whimper.

Although the Chairman of GSOC, Simon O'Brien, said that seven staff members had access to material which indicated that its offices in Abbey Street, Dublin were bugged, the latest investigation could not find the leaker. "The report was unable to establish individual responsibility for any disclosure, either on the part of an employee or GSOC or any party," the organisation said yesterday, following receipt of an investigation by Mark Connaughton SC, which it has decided not to publish.

So what was it all about?

It seem quite outrageous that - after so many allegations and counter-allegations, so many column inches and Dail debates, so much conjecture about the role of the gardai and others - the general public is no wiser at the end of three investigations than it was before the whole sorry saga emerged into the public domain.

Following a newspaper report that the offices of GSOC had been bugged, retired judge Mr John Cooke was asked to investigate these allegations. He concluded that evidence "does not support the proposition that actual surveillance of the kind asserted in the 'Sunday Times' article took place and much less that it was carried out by members of the Garda Siochana".

Now the third investigation, into how the matter was leaked, has led GSOC to conclude: "The Commission (GSOC) agrees with the conclusion that it is difficult to identify any further useful measures. In these circumstances, no further action is intended."

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said she would now study the report. The taxpayers who funded all three investigations - and the gardai who were implicated in the affair - may be puzzled that, after all of this, nothing happened and nobody was responsible.

Irish Independent