Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Inquiry call in Garda Ombudsman row

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan says he definitively eliminated over recent days the possibility of any unauthorised spying by members of his force

Human rights campaigners have demanded an independent inquiry into the Garda Ombudsman bugging controversy.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said a full public investigation was needed to staunch an erosion of public trust in police accountability.

Mark Kelly, ICCL director, said: "Public trust in our national authorities has been badly shaken by a week of claims and counter-claims.

"The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) seems not to have told the Minister for Justice its full reasons for launching a spying sweep and, in turn, the minister may have been editorial with the truth before the Dail."

Mr Kelly questioned the "credulity" of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan's declaration that he had definitively eliminated over recent days the possibility of any unauthorised spying by members of his force.

Earlier, the Garda Ombudsman called for a line to be drawn under the crisis.

"The current controversy has dominated the Ombudsman Commission's focus for the past week," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

"The Commission believes that it is now time to prioritise the important work we were appointed to undertake as an independent statutory agency."

Mr Callinan again dismissed any suggestion that members of his force had spied on the Ombudsman's headquarters in central Dublin.

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

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

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