GSOC seeks legal advice over holding internal inquiry

Commission confirms receipt of letter from Shatter seeking clarification of issues

Kieran Fitzgerald, Carmel Foley and Simon O’Brien of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission  arrive for a meeting with the Public Service Oversight Committee at Leinster House  earlier this week. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Kieran Fitzgerald, Carmel Foley and Simon O’Brien of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission arrive for a meeting with the Public Service Oversight Committee at Leinster House earlier this week. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 15:38

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) said last night it is seeking legal advice on an internal inquiry into who leaked details of a security check of its premises by a UK firm.

In a statement yesterday evening, the GSOC said it received a letter from Minister for Justice Shatter last night seeking clarification of a number of issues.

Mr Shatter said earlier this week he would be seeking clarification on what he said were contradictions in the watchdog’s statements around whether its offices were bugged or not.

The GSOC said it sent a letter to the Department of Justice last night. “The letter seeks to address fully and to clarify issues raised by the Minister.”

The commission also said it has engaged legal advice over an internal inquiry into a potential unauthorised release of information and is working through terms of reference and scope.

On RTÉ’s Prime Time on Thursday night, Mr Shatter criticised the GSOC and its chairman Simon O’Brien for giving a different account to the Oireachtas committee inquiring into the controversy surrounding security anomalies discovered at the GSOC’s headquarters than it did to him. He also contended the evidence had been confused and contradictory.

The Minister has agreed to appear before the oversight committee next Wednesday, with the likelihood of a clash over the contents of the briefing.

He said yesterday said today he has full confidence in GSOC as an organisation and in the three commissioners that lead the organisation, one of whom is Mr O’Brien.

“I have confidence in GSOC, I have confidence in the GSOC commission,” he said at an event in the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary.

However, he ruled out an independent inquiry or a Garda investigation being established to conclusively determine if the GSOC had been placed under surveillance.

He said that would only serve to undermine any inquiry undertaken by the commission.