Callinan 'completely satisfied' no gardaí or garda equipment used to bug GSOC

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has said he is "completely satisfied that there was no unauthorised access to (the force's surveillance) equipment".

The Commissioner was speaking in the context of a week-long controversy over possible bugging at the office of the Garda Ombudsman.

This morning, it was reported that the Garda Ombudsman Commission carried out a security sweep of its offices after a senior garda appeared to have information about a case being investigated by them.

Mr Callinan said: "I am entirely satisfied that An Garda Síochána was not involved in any surveillance of the headquarters, or the members, of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC)."

He added there were tight internal controls governing the use of the force's surveillance equipment.

Commissioner Callinan's full statement:

"In the context of the allegations now in the public domain, the Criminal Justice Surveillance Act 2009 sets out the legal parameters for the deployment of lawful surveillance techniques. An Garda Síochána adheres rigidly to this legislation at all times and the deployment of surveillance by An Garda Síochána is subject to strict internal controls and procedures, as well as independent judicial oversight.

"The oversight High Court Judge, appointed under Section 12 of the 2009 Act, has complete and unrestricted access to all cases, documents, records, and personnel pertaining to any type of surveillance conducted under the Act by An Garda Síochána. The oversight High Court Judge produces an annual independent report.

"Given the tight internal controls governing the use of the surveillance equipment used by An Garda Síochána, I am completely satisfied that there was no unauthorised access to this equipment.

"Given these tight external and internal controls, I am entirely satisfied that An Garda Síochána was not involved in any surveillance of the headquarters, or the members, of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

"I became concerned about a number of articles which appeared over a protracted period of time that appeared to indicate that a particular journalist was privy to highly sensitive information concerning high profile investigations being undertaken by GSOC. In that context, I raised those concerns with the Commission.

"As I have said on many occasions – including in November last year in front of the Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions - I fully support the statutory role of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and I remain committed to the implementation of the provisions of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and this includes re-enforcing my commitment to working closely with GSOC so that we can both fulfil our respective statutory obligations.

"The importance of having an independent and effective investigative body to ensure that Irish citizens continue to have trust in An Garda Síochána cannot be overstated. The ongoing respect and trust from communities nationwide is something An Garda Síochána work hard at to achieve, that we never take for granted, and it is our intention to maintain it. I see the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission as having a valuable role in this respect.”

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