Norris says phone tapping never raised about private citizens

FF accuses Taoiseach of ‘crocodile tears’ and ‘ kicking can down the road’ with review

 Senator David Norris: “I always assume my phone is tapped” and “that somebody is listening”.  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Senator David Norris: “I always assume my phone is tapped” and “that somebody is listening”. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Independent Senator David Norris has has said the question of phones being tapped is always raised in connection with journalists but never for private citizens.

On the controversy raised over the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) viewing the phone records of journalists without their knowledge, Mr Norris said he supported the call by Labour Seanad leader Ivana Bacik for a debate on phone tapping.

However he was “rather amused by the way this issue crops up from time to time and always when it is to do with journalists. It is never brought up when the private citizen is involved.”

He recalled when his phone was tapped and he tried to get Mary Robinson, then a Senator and Mr Norris’s senior counsel in his legal action to decriminalise homosexuality, to raise it.

“She could not as it was a matter of national security. I am not blaming her at all. She was excellent, but private citizens do not rate a damn as far as this issue is concerned.” He added: “I always assume my phone is tapped” and “that somebody is listening”.

Fianna Fáil’s Paschal Mooney first raised the issue and accused the Taoiseach of “crocodile tears”, claiming an independent review “is kicking the can down the road” and it was not true that “we are running out of time”. The review of the legislation is to be conducted by retired Chief Justice Mr Justice John Murray.

Mr Mooney said the Government should accept the Bill of Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins which provides that any attempt to tap a telephone, of a journalist or private citizen, must go before a court.

Seanad leader Maurice Cummins said it was of fundamental importance that journalists should be able to carry out their legitimate work unhindered.