Timeline – how events unfolded
GSOC commissioners Simon O’Brien (left) and Kieran Fitzgerald arriving for the Public Service Oversight Committee meeting at the Oireachtas in Leinster House.Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The irish Times
The Sunday Times carries a report saying a UK security company had been hired by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) to establish if its office was bugged. According to the report, sweeps carried out by the company found evidence of bugging on a telephone landline and the behaviour of a wifi device and unexplained detection of a UK 3G mobile network in the the GSOC offices suggested bugging. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter admits that the newspaper report was the first he had heard of the matter. Taoiseach Enda Kenny says he had sought a report from Shatter.
The GSOC issues its first statement, confirming UK security consultants Verrimus had carried out sweeps on its offices between September and December last year. It says “three technical and electronic anomalies” were found, adding “there was no evidence of Garda misconduct”. Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan says he was concerned the GSOC had introduced the force as suspects. GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien visits Shatter’s office to brief him after being summoned by the Minister.
A day after being briefed by the GSOC and with calls increasing for an independent inquiry, Shatter tells the Dáil that the commission had assured him it had found no “definitive” evidence of bugging. He rejects calls for an independent inquiry, saying the GSOC had already carried out its own investigation and had found no evidence of bugging. The commission says it had referred in its statement to no evidence of Garda misconduct in order to end speculation that the force was behind the suspected bugging.
Wednesday February 12th
GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien and commissioner Kieran FitzGerald both tell an Oireachtas committee that they suspected their offices were bugged. Of the three anomalies flagged, they appear most convinced that O’Brien’s conference call landline was bugged. Fitzgerald says that on the basis of the line’s reaction to being tested for surveillance, there was a “remote to zero” chance of there being any other explanation other than the phone was bugged.
O’Brien says he had not alerted the Government when the matters came to light after last year’s security sweeps because he feared “immense” fallout and did not have absolute evidence of bugging. He believes a report compiled by Verrimus had been leaked to a journalist from inside the GSOC by one of seven people with access to it. He reveals he had privately met the Garda Commissioner the previous day to discuss how they would work together in future after an invitation to meet was extended to him.