Labour TD Alan Kelly has formally asked the Justice Minister if his phone has ever been bugged by gardaí or his communications intercepted by the force.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Kelly said: “The purpose of my questions is to get a guarantee from the minister that my phones and telecommunication have never been intercepted or the records or data ever accessed or used by an Garda Síochána.
“For me it will not be good enough just to get an answer that the minister has never given permission for this to happen. I want him to ask an Garda Síochána directly and provide a guarantee to me and indeed all Oireachtas members that we can do our job without such concerns.”
Mr Kelly’s query on whether his “phone calls or telecommunications” have been intercepted by gardaí comes after a series of interventions by the TD on justice matters, which recently led to the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald as tánaiste.
Dáil questions tabled by the Tipperary TD with the then justice minister eventually revealed Ms Fitzgerald and her officials were made aware of a strategy by Garda management to discredit garda whistleblower.
Mr Kelly now wants to know if his calls are being monitored. A second specific question tabled by the former minister asks if his “phones or communications records or any data in any format have been requested” from service providers by gardaí over the last five years.
Mr Kelly, who used to work in the IT sector, told the Irish Examiner of his “deep concerns” about Garda powers to bug calls and access data records. He says current communications legislation is out of date.
The TD believes that gardaí in many of its operations are deciding themselves internally, without judicial or ministerial approval, “what they can or cannot do and whose details they can or can’t access”. The arbitrary nature of the system was reflected in the recent Murray report, he said.
“I understand that crime prevention needs to have legislation that allows for monitoring of criminals however, our legislation as currently constituted worries me and given all we know now about how senior management in An Garda Síochána have operated across a range off issues, I personally do not have confidence that they are operating appropriately under the legislation as currently constituted. Many people I speak to regarding garda and justice matters share these concerns.”
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