GSOC-gate Judge Must Have Proper Legal Powers says ICCL

  • 19-02-2014
  • Categorized in: Justice

Press statement

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Ireland's independent human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), has issued further clarification regarding the form of judicial inquiry that it considers should be carried out into the ongoing allegations regarding covert surveillance of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

Yesterday, the Council welcomed the appointment of a senior judicial figure to head an inquiry; however, it has since emerged that the judge's work might be confined to a "review of papers", under terms of reference prepared by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence.

This morning (Wednesday 19 February 2014), ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:

"Virtually the only thing that is crystal clear at this juncture is that ongoing allegations regarding surveillance of GSOC are a matter "of significant public concern" of the kind foreseen in section 3(1)(a) of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. The Act provides a tailor-made legal framework for speedy and cost-effective investigations."

"If the 2004 Act is used to appoint a retired judge, he will have the necessary legal powers to compel witnesses, request and preserve documentation, conduct inspections, and report findings of fact. It would be an offence to obstruct or mislead his investigation.  Given the competing accounts and conflicting reports that have entered the public domain so far, the ICCL does not accept that a judicial "review of papers" will be remotely sufficient to establish the truth", Mr Kelly added.

"This evening's parliamentary proceedings provide an ideal opportunity for the Government to lay before the Dáil an order to establish a proper inquiry with full legal powers", Mr Kelly concluded.

The ICCL has already emphasised that it considers it will be necessary for the judicial inquiry to review the operation of all forms of surveillance currently in use by An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the Revenue Commissioners under both the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act 1993 and the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, as well as any forms of surveillance in use by those agencies not covered by that legislation.  The inquiry will certainly also require the services of a professional technologist.


Walter Jayawardene
Communications Manager
Irish Council for Civil Liberties
9-13 Blackhall Place
Dublin 7

Tel. + 353 1 799 4503
Mob: +353 87 9981574   
Fax. + 353 1 799 4512

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