Varadkar expresses concern at delay in Shatter being informed
Bruton says Minister for Justice is ‘dealing with a legacy issue’
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the real issue was the delay in the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter being informed of the recording in Garda stations issues.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has expressed concern at the delay in Minister for Justice being informed of the recordings made in Garda stations.
Mr Varadkar said an internal Garda investigation was set up in November by the then Commissioner Martin Callinan but Alan Shatter was not immediately informed about the matter as he should have been, adding there had “even been inquiries about destroying the tapes”.
Mr Varadkar said today this was an issue of greater concern than anything else and he reiterated his full confidence in his Cabinet colleague Mr Shatter.
The Irish Times reported today that Attorney General Máire Whelan issued a formal instruction to the Garda Síochána earlier this month that all tapes made in stations around the State were not to be destroyed.
She took this decision around noon on Thursday, March 20th, on learning that the legal affairs division in the Garda Commissioner’s office was seeking permission from the Data Protection Commissioner to destroy their archive of recordings.
It has subsequently emerged that the Garda authorities have 2,485 tapes in their possession. The Attorney General had not been informed of the systemic unauthorised taping in Garda stations on November 11th, 2013.
Mr Varadkar also criticised Opposition parties of seeking to make political capital out of the issue by attacking Mr Shatter when the real issue was why the Minister had not been informed sooner.
Since his resignation last Tuesday it has emerged that a letter sent by former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan to the Department of Justice on March 10th relating to the phone recording issue was not shown to the Minister for 15 days. In the letter Mr Callinan advised that its contents be conveyed to the Minister.
The former Commissioner said the systems were set up in the 1980s to enable gardaí to record calls to and from control rooms; in particular 999 calls, bomb threats and other messages.
Mr Shatter told the Dáil last Wednesday the letter had only been given to him on March 24th.
The Opposition has demanded more information on why the delay occurred, and yesterday Ms Bacik said it would be appropriate for Mr Shatter and Mr Purcell to explain the position to the justice committee.
The Government last week announced the establishment of a commission of investigation into the taping of recordings at Garda stations after it was revealed that calls on certain lines had been recorded for more than 20 years. The news broke on the same day former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan resigned.
Mr Bruton told RTE Radio today Mr Shatter was “dealing with a legacy issue” that he had inherited and said the Minister was determined to deliver a quality policing system with strong oversight provided by a new Garda authority and a strong Ombudsman.
“That is the legislative programme that he is delivering. I have absolute confidence in him. I think he has handled this properly,” said Mr Bruton speaking at the publication of the new Competition and Consumer Protection Bill.
Mr Quinn also questioned today why it had taken so long for Mr Callinan’s letter to the Department of Justice outlining some of the issues relating to the recording of calls was not forwarded to Mr Shatter immediately.