Home phones got scrambler devices

Mon, Dec 31, 2012, 00:00

Phone tapping:Former Fianna Fáil press secretary Frank Dunlop had a scrambler device fitted to his home phone so that his calls could not be listened to, State papers from the National Archives show.

Similar devices were also fitted to the home phones of taoisigh Charles Haughey and Garret FitzGerald and some of their staff. A file from the Department of the Taoiseach also shows there were concerns about a new telephone system in Leinster House that allowed eavesdropping.

Dunlop first applied for a scrambler phone to be fitted in his home in Churchtown, Dublin, in October 1977. In a letter to the secretary of the department, he said he spent most of his time dealing with ministers by phone, from home. “I don’t think the request could be considered unreal,” he said.

Three extension lines from the Dáil switchboard were installed in Haughey’s home.

A note from the taoiseach’s office dated July 1981 discussed whether the secrecy set on Haughey’s private phone should be removed since he was no longer in government. It was decided that, because he remained a member of the Council of State, it should not be. The note also discussed the removal of “secrecy sets” from the homes of Seán Aylward, Pádraig Ó hAnnrachin and Brendan O’Donnell, who were Haughey’s “private office staff”.

FitzGerald had two secrecy sets at his home in Palmerstown, Dublin, and a letter dated August 1982 from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs said he had asked for the sets to be left in place after he left government.