Jan O’Sullivan describes ‘profound failure of governance’ within Garda

Previous government right to be concerned about Garda tapes, says former minister

The discovery of illegal Garda taping of telephone conversations at Garda stations was quite properly a matter of utmost concern to the previous government, Labour justice spokeswoman Jan O'Sullivan has told the Dáil.

Ms O’Sullivan, who served as a minister in that government, said that the system could have been in place for decades under the nose of Garda management was quite simply bizarre.

"The quite incredible finding is that at operational level An Garda Síochána somehow managed to maintain and operate a legally unsanctioned and unconstitutional recording system unknown, not only to the minister of the day, but also to their own commissioner and senior management,'' she added.

Ms O’Sullivan said on Wednesday the findings of the Fennelly commission, which investigated the recordings, pointed to a profound failure of governance. She said Mr Justice Fennelly’s findings did not put minds at rest. On the one hand, he found no evidence of improper use, but he also found there was no proper motive either and no thought-out policy or purpose at all.


Ms O’Sullivan said it was hard for anybody to understand how An Garda Síochána was not closer to a credible explanation on the exaggerated breath-test figures. She said, more worryingly, a classification of other incidents, including those relating to domestic violence, was under way.

“Apparently, the AGSI [the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors] at their conference are as baffled as the rest of us,’’ Ms O’Sullivan added.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald again defended Attorney General Máire Whelan. She said she had found her to be "a beacon of knowledge, wisdom and practicality''.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times