SUPREME COURT JUDGE Nial Fennelly will chair the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the recording of calls in and out of a large number of garda stations for decades, it has been confirmed.
The decision comes after this morning’s Cabinet meeting where the government discussed the ongoing controversy surrounding the revelations which emerged last week.
It was agreed that Fennelly will head up the inquiry. The terms of reference for the investigation have still to be confirmed, but there are indications they could be published within the next few days.
The government also said in a statement this afternoon that An Garda Siochána and the Department of Justice should ensure that all tapes of recorded calls should be retained and preserved, and a full inventory carried out.
Arrangements should also be made for the tapes to be accessed “as required and in accordance with the law” the government said, noting the President of the High Court has issued an instruction on the matter.
Ministers were also briefed on the “latest position” concerning the Ian Bailey case, which a statement described as “the specific case related to Bandon Garda Station which has given rise to particular concern”.
The government said these matters will be dealt with by the courts.
‘All matters of public concern’
Ministers also agreed that the Fennelly inquiry should “examine all matter (sic) of public concern relating to the issue of taping of conversations in Garda stations”.
The terms of reference will be subject to approval by Dáil Éireann, the government said, adding that the administrative preparations are under way.
Fennelly has served on the Supreme Court since 2000 having previously served as Advocate General on the European Court of Justice and as chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland.
He is due to retire when he turns 72 next month.
Ministers also agreed today that a new Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform, involving the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice, will be established “immediately” to oversee the development of proposals for an independent police authority.
These proposal will be brought forward for public consultation “in the coming weeks” the government said.
It also confirmed that two separate inquiries, one headed by former judge John Cooke into the allegations of GSOC headquarters being bugged, and the barrister Seán Guerin’s examination of a dossier alleging garda malpractice in a number of serious cases will “be completed later this month”.
A statement added: “The Government’s intention is to have new structures, including the appointment of a new Garda Commissioner by open competition and the establishment of a new independent policing authority, in place later this year.”
First published 2.32pm