Commission to explain leaks to committee today

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission will come under intense pressure today to explain who leaked the alleged bugging allegations to the media.

The Garda watchdog will also be questioned as to why speculation was allowed to become so widespread, further damaging the fraught relationship between GSOC and the gardaí.

GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien and commissioners Carmel Foley and Kieran FitzGerald will be asked why they did not intervene sooner instead of allowing damaging speculation and innuendo to continue in the aftermath of a Sunday Times report.

Last night, the vice-chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petition, Labour TD Derek Nolan, said he wanted to know who leaked the information and why “those who were in a position to control the information let speculation to become so widespread”.

GSOC’s statement on Monday night confirming there was no evidence of Garda misconduct infuriated Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. He said he was gravely concerned that by issuing the statement, the commission had implied there was Garda complicity in the suspected bugging.

The row erupted at a time when the relationship between the gardaí and its independent watchdog were on the mend following the penalty points scandal and the four-year investigation into drug dealer Kieran Boylan, during which GSOC accused gardaí of “withholding evidence and information”.

Mr Nolan said the committee would focus on the deteriorating relationship between GSOC and the gardaí, and would request that it be provided with the full surveillance report carried out by a British security firm.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter does not have the power to compel GSOC to furnish him with the report, but he has requested a copy.

As a Government spokesman said GSOC and its chairman continued to have the Coalition’s full support, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil the commission would need to provide clarity to the committee if it was to enjoy the public’s confidence.

“It is important that there be clarity — clarity leading to confidence — about the institution of the GSOC. I hope that when the GSOC attends… it will be in a position to provide that clarity. It is very necessary for the people of the country that this happens,” Mr Kenny said.

He rejected calls from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams for an independent inquiry, saying opposition parties should at least allow the independent commission appear before the committee first.

“We want to see confidence in the integrity of the GSOC in respect of how it carries out its business and confidence in the integrity of the running of An Garda Síochána. These are two very important pillars of our democratic system,” Mr Kenny said.

More on this topic

Report fails to establish responsibility for GSOC leakReport fails to establish responsibility for GSOC leak

GSOC chief says 'questions remain unanswered' over bugging claimsGSOC chief says 'questions remain unanswered' over bugging claims

Justice Minister 'still has confidence' in GSOCJustice Minister 'still has confidence' in GSOC

Cooke report delivered to Taoiseach's officeCooke report delivered to Taoiseach's office


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