herald

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Garda is accused of stalking ex-boyfriend

probe: 'Officer tapped phone and tracked' her ex lover

A FEMALE Dublin garda is accused of stalking her ex-boyfriend by obtaining phone records to track his movements.

The officer is understood to have carried out the surveillance after the couple broke up.

She was stationed in the gardai's crime and security division, which carries out spying and gathers intelligence.

The man's suspicions were aroused when he realised his ex-girlfriend allegedly knew details of his telephone calls.

He then made a complaint to gardai and an investigation was launched.

The alleged offences are now the subject of a criminal investigation as well as disciplinary proceedings.

The garda is the first person who may have breached phone-tapping rules introduced in legislation in 1993.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner was informed of the apparent data breach last June.

The case was highlighted in a report prepared by High Court judge Iarfhlaith O'Neill, who is responsible for monitoring the country's phone surveillance activities.





breaches

In a report to the Oireachtas, Mr O'Neill said he investigated a number of alleged breaches of Section 64(2) of the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.

Mr O'Neill said the breaches are alleged to have been committed by a member of An Garda Siochana.

Following his investigations, he was "concerned" the breaches may have occurred, he said.

Labour justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte told the Herald "we'll watch the outcome" of the investigation into the female garda's activities "with interest".

"There are concerns about the frequency of resort to this manner of getting information," Mr Rabbitte added.

"On the one hand, one needs to ensure that the gardai have access to information that can be helpful in dealing with criminality.

"On the other hand, there are privacy issues which arise and it may be necessary to look at whether the legislation is sufficiently up to date.

"It certainly seems high (the frequency of requests). One would need to take advice on it. The legislation does need to be reviewed and one needs to take professional advice and also hear the garda point of view," he said.

In his report Mr O'Neill revealed the alleged offences are now part of a criminal investigation and disciplinary proceedings have been instituted.

The Data Protection Commissioner said it estimated gardai were making 10,000 requests for the phone records of individuals every year.

The Labour Party has called for a review of the operation of powers given under the legislation.

The party said the powers in relation to accessing phone records were added as a last-minute amendment to the bill by the then Justice Minister, Michael McDowell.

It said that, while there was acceptance such a power might be necessary to fight international terrorism or organised crime, no member of the Oireachtas envisaged the power would be used so often.





headquarters

Elsewhere in his report, Mr O'Neill states he attended garda headquarters on November 18 last year.

On the same day, he visited army headquarters in McKee Barracks and the Department of Justice offices on St Stephen's Green.

He said he was satisfied there was "full compliance with the provisions of the above acts".

Under Section 64(2), no garda below the rank of chief superintendent can request phone records from a telecommunications company to a criminal investigation.

Ireland may now be forced by a 2009 European Council directive to publish details of the phone records which are sought.

The directive requires member states to legislate to provide their data protection commissioners with information on phone requests.

comurphy@herald.ie

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