“Paul Reynolds, thank you for that”
Presenter: Well, the controversy over alleged bugging of the Garda Ombudsman Commission offices is continuing, today there have been calls for an independent inquiry. Former Garda Ombudsman Conor Brady has said that an independent body should deal with concerns over the potential bugging of the office. Let’s speak now to our crime correspondent Paul Reynolds. Paul, we know now (that) what led to the GSOC public interest investigation was information emerging from the office and not a routine investigation or a routine audit as Minister Shatter had said earlier this week. This really is a complicated and messy chain of events, is it not?
Paul Reynolds: Yeah, I mean, it all started towards the end of last year, towards the end of GSOC’s biggest public interest inquiry, the Kieran Boylan case. He’s a convicted drug dealer, there was an allegation he was colluding with the Gardaí, GSOC spent four years investigating that, they sent a file to the DPP, the DPP decided that no prosecution within four months, there was not enough evidence, but at the, after that, at the end of that investigation there was controversy between the Gardaí and GSOC. GSOC noticed that information was leaking from its offices. They began an investigation. Now, they began a security sweep. This is where the minister and the chairman differ because the Minister said the sweep was routine, but the chairman Simon O’Brien said it was initiated because information from GSOC was appearing in the public domain. The information, which included the UK, the investigation which included the UK security company found three anomalies, so they suspected they were under electronic surveillance. Therefore they launched a public interest inquiry, under the Garda Siochána act. Now that’s very serious, because every time they have launched one of these investigations, they always informed the Minister and the public, they issued a press release. They didn’t do it in this case, and that’s the first time ever.
Now this was -this inquiry was launched under Section 1024 of the Garda Act, which means that they’re investigating the Gardai, they have one suspect and one suspect only. So the investigation was focused externally. It doesn’t appear to have considered that the information leaking from GSOC, that GSOC was concerned about, could have come from inside GSOC. That there could have been what Simon O’Brien described yesterday as an internal mole. The investigation started in October, it discovered no evidence of Garda involvement, GSOC suspects it could have been electronically surveilled but it has no conclusive evidence, it may have been the victim of this surveillance, it still doesn’t know, so it shut down the investigation.
Presenter: And Paul, as you say there, the Chairman has indicated an internal issue himself, there is now a likelihood that somebody within that organisation is leaking information, and isn’t there only one way which people will find out whether that is the case, and these calls for an independent inquiry are beginning to gather momentum and are increasing pressure for that, are they?
Paul Reynolds: Yeah, I mean, in fairness to the journalist John Mooney, he broke this story, he got a scoop, he did his job, and he published it in the public interest. But it has caused a major problem for the Ombudsman. Because Simon O’Brien knows that he has a major security problem in GSOC, he has at least one mole and possibly more than one mole leaking secret information and details, possibly documents, in an organisation that holds highly secret and confidential information, and it’s been going on for almost a year. And GSOC still doesn’t know if it was under electronic surveillance. And if it was, by whom? And it doesn’t know if it’s got just one security problem in the sense of internal mole or moles, which is responsible for also the electronic anomalies, or two security problems, one internal and one external, involving external, external surveillance.
So, they are now conducting an internal inquiry and Simon O’Brien says there’s only seven people, including himself, who had access to that top secret report. The situation is, however, that GSOC is investigating GSOC, and the pressure today is coming on, after the Garda Associations representing twelve and a half thousand Gardai, sergeants and inspectors, eh, Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald again today in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil its leader Micheál Martin again today on Sean O’Rourke’s programme, and this morning, a former Ombudsman Commissioner, Conor Brady, all calling for an independent inquiry, and Conor Brady suggesting that it should be a senior counsel under the Commission of Investigations Act. Now we have a statement from the Minister in the last few minutes, saying that he will await the outcome of GSOC’s internal investigation to establish the facts about a possible unauthorised disclosure of information, and he expects to be informed of the result, before he decides what to do.
Presenter: Paul Reynolds, thank you for that.