The shredding of “personal papers” belonging to former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has led to calls for more robust laws on the retention of documents.
The Fennelly Report highlighted how Mr Callinan had cleared out all personal papers after he announced his retirement on March 25 last year.
Eight to 10 refuse bags were filled with what Mr Callinan described as “personal papers gathered over the years”. The contents of the bags were shredded on April 4. He was able to produce his diary for the year 2014, but regarding the commissioner’s diary for the previous year, the report states: “It must be presumed that the diary for 2013 was included in the bags of personal papers that were shredded following Mr Callinan’s departure.”
Regarding Mr Callinan’s mobile phone, the report said almost all communication with the Department of Justice was through texts, and so the information contained on the mobile phone of Mr Callinan was “extremely relevant”.
However, while the phone was ultimately recovered it had no text message information on it and the SIM card was not found amid confusion over whether it was ever handed in.
An assistant garda commissioner said it had been cancelled remotely on May 30 last year, as it had not been used since April 16, 2014. Some meta-data was ultimately recovered and the Department of Justice provided a copy of all texts sent by Mr Callinan to Brian Purcell.
There have been claims that the shredding of the material might have been in contravention of the National Archives Act and Independent TD Mick Wallace said: “We do not have proper legislation that can oversee papers that are in the public interest and belong to the State. Now that it has happened it looks like a gaping hole [in the law]. It is something that needs to be addressed.”
According to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht: “While the Act vests responsibility for archival records in the office of the Director of the National Archives it is a matter for each department of state, and other relevant public body, to manage their own records in accordance with the provisions of the National Archives Act, 1986.”
Brian McKevitt of the Standards In Public Office Commission said it did not have any direct information on whether the National Archives Act applied or was contravened but added that if it received a complaint it would have to consider it.
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