herald

Friday 18 January 2019

GSOC bosses should resign over bugging claims, says Shatter

Alan Shatter. Photo: Tony Gavin
Alan Shatter. Photo: Tony Gavin

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter has called on the three bosses of the Garda watchdog to resign.

In a highly-charged attack on the members of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), he said the watchdog chiefs have to go.

The Fine Gael TD was forced to quit as Justice Minister on May 7 last after months of controversy about the Gardai - including unproven allegations that the offices of the GSOC had been bugged.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has called on the Garda Ombudsman service to publish their internal report into the leaking of information on the bugging allegations.

In the Dail, Mr Shatter delivered a stinging attack on the three GSOC Commissioners, singling out especially its main commissioner, Simon O'Brien, a former senior London policeman. Mr Shatter said the GSOC bosses tried to cover up their own incompetence and again cited their failure to uphold their legal obligations to keep him informed on their investigations when he was Justice Minister.

The former Justice Minister said the three Commissioners cannot continue in office - especially as it was planned to give the watchdog additional legal powers.

criticised

Mr Shatter specifically criticised the most recent GSOC announcement that they had not been able to find out who leaked details of the suspected bugging to media last February.

He said that finding was not acceptable, nor was it acceptable for GSOC to simply say they were now abandoning their inquiry into the leaks.

"I do not believe it tenable that the GSOC Commissioners remain in office nor is it acceptable that the matter of the leak now be abandoned," the former Justice Minister told the Dail on its resumption yesterday.

Ms Fitzgerald said GSOC had appointed a senior counsel to examine the circumstances of the leaking of information last February.

She said that the lawyer's report was copied to her but it could not be published in its current form without revealing confidential personal details about some people and it may also risk defaming certain people.

The Justice Minister said she asked GSOC to examine the prospect of publishing an edited version of the report.

"It is in the public interest to put as much information as possible into the public domain," Ms Fitzgerald said.

A spokeswoman for GSOC last night said they were aware of the Justice Minister's comments in the Dail.

"We will be considering what she had to say," the spokeswoman said.

hnews@herald.ie

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