New witnesses possible at GSOC inquiry

The independent inquiry into allegations of bugging at the Garda Ombudsman will have the power to hear new witnesses.

The terms of reference for the investigation, published last night, give retired judge John Cooke the power to hear whatever oral evidence he needs.

On Tuesday in the Dáil, Enda Kenny appeared to suggest that the independent inquiry would not have the power to compel witnesses or hear new evidence.

But the terms of reference, officially published last night, give the inquiry that right.

It means the inquiry will be able to call in security experts to get to the bottom of whether GSOC was the subject of a bugging attempt.

It also raises the prospect that members of GSOC, the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, and the Garda commissioner Martin Callinan could all be asked to give new evidence.

Justice Cooke will be asked to report back on his findings within eight weeks, and will be able to recommend extra security measures, or changes to the law around the Garda Ombudsman.

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