Kenny to ask Shatter for briefing on bug claims

Representatives of Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to be called before Oireachtas committee to explain allegations

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to ask Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to brief the Cabinet about revelations that the offices of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) were bugged and the Government not informed despite evidence emerging last year.

Mr Shatter was last night also coming under increased pressure from the Opposition to make a full statement. Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin insisted he make a statement today, saying the development was so serious it could not wait any longer.

'Unhelpful' speculation
Sinn Féin's spokesman on justice Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said while GSOC may have been targeted by "hackers", any delay by the Government in bringing clarity to the case may lead to "unhelpful" speculation.

As chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, under whose remit the commission falls, he would be contacting the commission today to ask it to appear before the committee and explain what it had found.

It was "a Gubu moment, quite extraordinary" that bugging had been detected last year and the Government knew nothing about it until a report in The Sunday Times , he said.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on justice Niall Collins said the matter was so serious Mr Shatter needed to immediately "explain what on earth is going on".

Mr Shatter’s office issued a statement saying he was not in a position to comment fully. “Please be advised that Minister Shatter has sought a full report from GSOC on the matter and that he won’t be making any comment until the report has been received and considered,” the statement said. A spokesman said he was expected to be briefed by GSOC today.

The commission, which investigates complaints made against Garda members, found evidence that its discussions, telephone calls and emails had been hacked by an unidentified source. It is unclear what led to the security check.

Sources have suggested some senior staff in the commission viewed with suspicion the level of detail that was emerging publicly about some of its ongoing cases last year.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times