GSOC wants to move on from controversy over alleged bugging

Sunday 16 February 2014 23.08
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GSOC said it wanted to focus on the work it was set up to do
GSOC said it wanted to focus on the work it was set up to do
Ms O'Loan said she regularly had arranged security sweeps of her office
Ms O'Loan said she regularly had arranged security sweeps of her office

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has said that it wants to move on from the controversy over the alleged surveillance of its offices in Dublin.

In a statement this afternoon, GSOC said it wanted to focus on the work it was set up to do.

It said: "The current controversy has dominated the Ombudsman Commission's focus for the past week.

"The Commission believes that it is now time to prioritise the important work we were appointed to undertake as an independent statutory agency."

The scandal has dominated the political agenda since a report in The Sunday Times last weekend.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said again today that he was satisfied that gardaí were not involved in authorised or unauthorised surveillance of GSOC or its members.

The comments came after more claims in newspapers this morning about the circumstances surrounding the controversy.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has resisted the opposition calls for an independent inquiry into the events.

Mr Gilmore said it is important that the suspected bugging of GSOC should not be allowed to undermine confidence in it or in gardaí.

He said the Oireachtas Committee on Oversight and Petitions, which is looking at the controversy, should be allowed to complete its work.

Mr Gilmore said Minister for Justice Alan Shatter will appear before the committee this week to answer questions.

Asked if there should be an independent inquiry into the matter, he said the issue could be looked at once the committee finished its hearings.

He told RTÉ's The Week in Politics the bugging controversy had not damaged GSOC and insisted the commission was asserting its independence.

Mr Gilmore repeated his view that no State body was involved in the alleged surveillance of the GSOC offices.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, committee chairman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that on the balance of probability GSOC's office was under surveillance attack.

The Sinn Féin TD said it was necessary to find out who was responsible and to hear from Minister Shatter.

Elsewhere, former Northern Ireland police ombudsman Nuala O' Loan says she believes there are structural flaws in the Garda Ombudsman Commission that need to be addressed.

Baroness O'Loan was appointed to the House of Lords in 2007.

She says that she would not serve in a Garda Ombudsman Commission role that did not include the right to investigate the Garda Commissioner's office.

Ms O'Loan also said she would not serve in that role without a guarantee of access to the Garda Pulse Information System.

She said that in her former role, she regularly arranged security sweeps of her office and did not inform the police or Northern Ireland Office about it.  

Ms O'Loan also said that would not expect the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, to make public details of surveillance initiatives he had authorised.