Shatter orders report into bugging of Garda Ombudsman office

Shatter orders report into bugging of Garda Ombudsman office

IRELAND’S Minister for Justice has contacted the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission asking why it believes its offices were bugged last year and why he was not informed.

Alan Shatter has also asked the commission to provide a detailed report on the matter, including its decision to hire a British security company last year to investigate if it had been placed under electronic surveillance.

The minister was not informed of the decision and a complaint was not made to gardaí.

Mr Shatter is due to meet members of the commission at the Department of Justice this afternoon.

GSOC has refused to comment.

Allegations that the Ombudsman phones were bugged and emails intercepted were made in the Irish edition of The Sunday Times yesterday.

The discovery was made last year when the organisation carried out a sweep of its offices using a British-based private contractor that specialises in counter surveillance.

The contractor found a speaker phone in a conference room where cases were discussed was bugged.

There was no physical bugging device in the phone, though a check on the line revealed it had been electronically monitored in a way that enabled a third party to listen in to conversations.

The security firm also found that the office’s Wi-Fi system had been compromised and that emails were possibly intercepted.

The decision to bring in experts from the UK to check its systems was made when Gsoc consulted with its equivalent organisation in the UK, the British Independent Police Commission.

John Mooney, Crime Correspondent with The Sunday Times, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme this morning that the allegations pose a very difficult situation.

He said: "The three commissioners are actually warranted by the presidency, so you can quite clearly see that it is a significant issue now that you have one State agency has been subjected to quite a serious surveillance attack.

"Also, personal intrusion, lots of members of the GSOC staff appear to have had both their private and their work emails possibly compromised."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also asked Minister Shatter to brief the Cabinet on the claims.