Alex White: Report to gardaí fears of phone tapping

The communications minister says anyone concerned that their phone is bugged should contact gardaí.

Minister Alex White was responding after a TD revealed she was told her phone could be tapped.

Social Democrats TD, Catherine Murphy, revealed to the Irish Examiner that she used a ‘throwaway’ phone on the advice of security experts.

She sought expert support at the height of the Siteserv/IBRC saga, in April, when she and her colleagues became concerned their equipment was under surveillance. The Kildare TD indicated the ‘throwaway’ phones were used to contact sources when she had raised problems around transactions with the former Anglo Irish Bank.

She said: “We took some advice. We had some little throwaway phones where, if we were making contact with people, we were making sure to protect the people who we would talk to.”

Ms Murphy said the security measures were still being used “from time to time”.

Catherine Murphy
Catherine Murphy

Controversy over the IBRC deals led to the setting-up of a Commission of Investigation, which has since been stalled over legal and privacy problems.

Commission chairman, Judge Brian Cregan, is awaiting the outcome of the Government’s considerations on how to strengthen the probe’s powers and grant it more resources.

But any outcome from the judge-led investigation will not be complete until well after the general election.

Mr White said yesterday: “If an individual, whether they are a politician or otherwise, has a concern about their mobile phone, they should take that to the supplier.

“If they have a concern of a more sinister nature, they should take that to the gardaí.”

Asked if he was satisfied the mobile phone networks were secure and people were not tapped, he answered: “Yes, I am satisfied.”

Elsewhere, Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, said he always worked on the basis that his phone was tapped, because that was “the way the system worked”.

He said bugging devices had previously been found on his own car, as well as at his offices.

“I don’t want us to go off in a whole big sort of conspiracy theory, but, you know, anybody who’s dealing with these issues needs to be dealing with them in a prudent way.”

Mr Adams said that even high-ranking officials in government did not like discussing confidential matters on telephones and, therefore, it was not surprising some people, including politicians, thought their phones might be bugged.

The Louth TD referred to Attorney General Maire Whelen, who, when she contacted the Taoiseach regarding the garda station recordings controversy in 2014, said she did not want to discuss issues on the phone.

He asked: “Why, when the Attorney General told the Taoiseach that she wanted to talk to him about revelations around the taping of telephone conversations in garda stations, did they decide they didn’t want to have the conversation on the phone?”


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