Justice Minister 'doesn't want to undermine' GSOC

Thursday 13 February 2014 23.59
Alan Shatter said he some of what was said at the Oireachtas Committee was contradicotry and confusing
Alan Shatter said he some of what was said at the Oireachtas Committee was contradicotry and confusing

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said he does not want to undermine public confidence in the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and that it was important that confusion surrounding the issue of surveillance of GSOC's office was resolved.

On tonight’s RTÉ Prime Time, Mr Shatter said he has confidence in GSOC and he appreciated that members had a four-hour hearing in front of an Oireachtas Committee.

He said some of what was said at the Committee seemed to him to be a little confused or contradictory.

However, he added that he was not accusing anyone of giving wrong information.

Mr Shatter said the statement he gave to the Dáil on Tuesday evening was based entirely on the oral and written briefing he had received from GSOC Chairman Simon O'Brien on Monday and on its press release.

In the context of that the conclusion was that there was no definitive evidence of any unauthorised technical or other surveillance on GSOC's office, he said.

“At no stage during his oral briefing to me, the context of the written brief, or press statement was it stated that he or members of GSOC believed they were under surveillance.”

Mr Shatter said it stated was that vulnerabilities or potential threats or abnormalities had been identified during a security sweep and he acted on foot of that.

He said his objective was to tell the Dáil the truth of what he knew which was based on the written and oral submission from GSOC.

“Why on earth would I not simply come into the Dáil and state what I knew? What motive could I possibly have to do that?”

Earlier today, Mr Shatter agreed to appear before an Oireachtas committee in relation to GSOC allegations of surveillance.

Responding to calls for an independent inquiry into the matter, a spokeswoman for Mr Shatter also said the commission had carried out an investigation and deemed no further action necessary.

The chairman of the commission yesterday told a committee that he suspected they were under surveillance.

There had been growing calls today from Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin for an independent inquiry into the allegations.

Former Garda ombudsman commissioner Conor Brady had also called for an independent probe.

This evening a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said the minister had dealt with the issue of an independent inquiry in the Dáil on Tuesday.

She said he had pointed out then that calls for such an inquiry overlook the fact that the commission is an investigatory body which carried out an investigation itself, found no definitive evidence of unauthorised technical or electronic surveillance and deemed no further action necessary.

Committee chairman Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said the committee would decide at a later stage whether or not to call Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan before them.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said an independent, comprehensive and transparent report is now the only way to deal with concerns around the potential bugging.

Independent body should deal with concerns - Brady

Mr Brady said an independent body should deal with concerns over the suspected bugging.

Mr Brady said Mr Shatter could appoint senior counsel under the Commission of Investigation Act to get to the bottom of recent events.

He said both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Shatter were "talking nonsense" when they said GSOC should have reported events to Minister Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Mr Brady said there was no way GSOC could have done this because the minister and the commissioner are "joined at the hip".

"The Commissioner reports directly to the minster - the Commissioner’s livelihood lies in the minister's hands," he said.