Garda tape inquiry may run for 2 more years

The Fennelly inquiry into covert recordings of phone calls in and out of Garda stations may not finish its work for another two years, the Irish Examiner has learned.

The commission of investigation has hired staff and asked them to remain available for up to two years.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week confirmed Judge Nial Fennelly had requested extra time beyond the provisional completion date at the end of this year to carry out the inquiry.

However, stenographers have been asked to be available to work for the commission for between another 12 and 24 months. Lawyers are also being retained for an indefinite period.

Mr Kenny last week told the Dáil the Government would examine an interim report from Judge Fennelly, possibly before Christmas, which would set out the extra time requested.

The inquiry was set up in the aftermath of revelations in April that calls in and out of Garda stations, including between solicitors and their clients, were recorded for decades.

The inquiry was also asked to investigate the resignation of Garda commissioner Martin Callinan, who quit the day after a late- night visit from Brian Purcell, the former head of the Department of Justice.

Opposition leaders claim Mr Kenny circumvented Cabinet rules and effectively sent the department secretary general to sack Mr Callinan, in the wake of various Garda controversies.

A recent tender notice for stenography services for the inquiry reveals that staff are being hired with the provision that they make themselves available for work for up to two years.

In seeking transcript services for the inquiry’s hearings, the tender says: “It is proposed to award the contract initially until 31 December 2014 but this period may be extended if necessary to 12 months, or to a maximum of 24 months.”

Stenographers are being asked to provide same-day hardcopy transcripts, “emergency” night before and early morning hearings, digital audio recordings and to be able to provide “live feed” to the judge.

The inquiry also wants personnel to be available to provide a “confidential stenography service at short notice anywhere in the country”.

Elsewhere, the commission itself has confirmed that it has so far hired six barristers, at various times. In a statement to the Irish Examiner, it added: “Their work includes attending at and conducting oral hearings on behalf of the commission, taking statements from and examining witnesses, reading and collating documents, drafting and legal research. They are paid on a daily basis at rates laid down by the Government.”


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