Shatter facing questions from committee on GSOC

Minister for Justice says no evidence of surveillance was found at the garda watchdog

A screengrab of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter giving evidence to the Oireachtas petitions committee on the GSOC controversy. Image courtesy of Oireachtas broadcasting

A screengrab of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter giving evidence to the Oireachtas petitions committee on the GSOC controversy. Image courtesy of Oireachtas broadcasting

Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 19:04

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is currently answering questions on the GSOC controversy before the Oireachtas Commitee on Public Service Oversight and Peititions.

Mr Shatter is attending the meeting to discuss the alleged surveillance of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission(GSOC) offices.

Opposition parties have been highly critical of the Minister’s handling of the affair, accusing him of putting misleading information into the public domain and attempting to discredit the GSOC.

Live: Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions

Mr Shatter’s appearance comes a day after it was announced that a retired High Court judge would be lead an independent review into the allegations.

Mr Shatter said last night that a report into alleged bugging at the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) had found “no evidence of any technical or electronic surveillance” at the policing watchdog.

Speaking before the committee this evening, Mr Shatter said GSOC undertook an investigation into garda involvement into possible bugging of its offices after a report from British security firm Verrimus highlighted anomalies concerning a wifi network and a phone line.

Mr Shatter said the GSOC may have “prematurely commenced that investigation” out of “anxiety”.

He said that it was never made clear to him why GSOC believed that gardaí may have had involvement with the anomalies highlighted in the report.

Mr Shatter also told the committee the High Court judge who will carry out the independent review will have the power to interview personnel, as well as extend the terms of reference if (s)he deems it necessary.

“The judge will be able to invite people in and ask them questions. The first thing to do will be to read all the material and establish what questions need to be raised, and who, if anybody, the judge needs to meet with.

“The terms of reference are designed insofar as is possible to get at the whole truth. Not me, but the attorney general has been in contact with the retired high court judge whe is it is anticipated will take this task.

“When the terms of reference are announced we will announce who that judge is. Of course, if there is a difficulty with the terms of reference and the judge asks that they be extended in some shape or form, I can’t imagine there would be any difficulty with that.”