Cooke will be invited to appear before committees

Retired judge, John Cooke, is to be called before an Oireachtas committee as part of its continued examination of allegations of bugging at the Garda Síochána Ombudsman commission (GSOC).

Cooke will be invited to appear before committees

The Committee on Oversight and Petitions agreed to write to Mr Cooke in the coming days to ask him to discuss his findings that there was a lack of evidence to support claims of surveillance.

There are also growing calls to invite Mr Cooke before the Justice Committee to discuss what members said are a number of questions that remain about the bugging controversy.

This could result in a joint sitting of both committees to question Mr Cooke — something that the chair of the Oversight committee, Sinn Féin’s Padraig Mac Lochlainn said he would be supportive of.

“Personally in my own capacity as chairman, I would have no issue with both committees taking a joint session,” he said.

“Obviously we can’t compel Justice Cooke to attend and it’s entirely up to himself but I think it would be useful to probe through the issues because there are unanswered questions.”

Committee members want to ask Mr Cooke about a number of his conclusions in his report, including:

- That it is “extremely difficult to determine with complete certainty” whether anomalies found by GSOC “were or were not attributable to unlawful intrusion.”

- That it’s “difficult to categorically exclude the possibility that some form of illicit eavesdropping may have taken place.”

- That “further tests and investigations might be conducted” to find explanations for some of the anomalies” even though “it may be questionable whether such further investigations would be justified”.

Members also want to discuss his findings about the relationship between senior gardaí and GSOC and the “atmosphere of tension and frustration” described.

The committee, which suspended its hearings on the issue for the duration of the Cooke inquiry, plans to invite in members of GSOC.

Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on justice, Niall Collins, said the Government wants to use the Cooke Report “to put this issue to bed regardless of what questions remain unanswered.”

He said: “I believe that rather than rely on Government spin, we need to give the all-party Justice Committee an opportunity to speak to Mr Justice Cooke directly.”

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