GRAVE revelations of the recording of phone conversations at Garda stations across Ireland have been made known to the Irish Government.
The Government announced today that they have set up a commission of investigation to examine the development that they describe as “a new and very serious issue relating to An Garda Síochána”.
Some of the incidents - where conversations made to and from Garda station were taped - will have serious consequences for court cases.
In a statement, the Government said: "From the information available, the practice of making recordings was in place for many years and was discontinued in November of 2013.
"It is not yet clear why this practice was in operation.
“The Government is extremely concerned about this information.
“The implications of this matter are potentially of such gravity that the Government has decided to set up a statutory Commission of Investigation into this matter of significant public concern.
“It will be chaired by a senior serving or retired member of the Judiciary.
“In the context of ongoing legal proceedings in a particular case, the Government has learned that a system was in place in a large number of Garda stations whereby incoming and outgoing telephone calls were taped and recorded. The Government was informed of this new information at its meeting today.
“As the matter is before the Courts, it is not appropriate to make any further comment on the specific case.
“The Government has asked for a full, detailed report on all aspects of this matter from An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice and Equality, so that an informed decision can be made on the legal and other consequences, with the assistance of the Attorney General.
“The terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation will be decided shortly, once a full report on the circumstances has been made available to the Government.”
Ministers were briefed about the revelations at a Cabinet meeting this morning, where Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan's resignation was also discussed.
The Government accepted Mr Callinan’s retirement as Commissioner, with Deputy Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan “appointed as interim Garda Commissioner”.
The Coalition also “reiterated its commitment to its extensive programme of reform, including the passing of the Government legislation to protect whistleblowers and to extend freedom of information.”