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Paul Murphy: It's quite shocking gardaí are 'spying' on water protesters

He and his AAA colleagues have written to the Justice Minister.

Paul Murphy (left) and Ken Purcell at a press conference oragnised by residents of Jobstown.
Paul Murphy (left) and Ken Purcell at a press conference oragnised by residents of Jobstown.
Image: Sam Boal

ANTI-AUSTERITY ALLIANCE TDs have written to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in relation to claims gardaí have been spying on anti-water charge protesters.

Earlier today, the Irish Daily Mail claimed a team led by Detective Superintendent Jim McGowan, husband of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, has spent six months compiling profiles on protesters, including TD Paul Murphy, and their whereabouts.

The paper reports that the group is operating under the name Operation Mizen and says gardaí plan to extend the Dublin-based unit nationwide.

AAA TDs Murphy, Joe Higgins and Ruth Coppinger have written a letter to Fitzgerald, calling on her to make an immediate public statement on the issue.

The letter describes the content of the article as “quite shocking”.

“This is a most serious development and raises fundamental questions as to the interference of the Garda in the political life of the State.”

The correspondence also puts a number of questions to the minister, namely:

Were you aware that this Garda Unit was in operation? Were you consulted about its foundation or operation? Did you have any report made to you or to your Department by the Garda Commissioner or any authorities in the Garda on the operation of this Unit?
How many individuals are the subject of this surveillance? Are public representatives at Council or Dáil level the subject of this surveillance? If so will you name them?
Have the telephones or other communications of anti water charges campaign activists been intercepted and if so have public representatives been among those who were the subject of such interceptions? What other forms of surveillance have been used?

Response

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice confirmed Fitzgerald has received the letter and said it “will be responded to in due course”.

The operational arrangements for the Gardaí in fulfilling its functions – which include preserving peace and public order, protecting life and property, preventing crime and vindicating the human rights of each individual – are a matter for An Garda Síochána, subject to the law.

“It is open to any person who has a complaint against An Garda Síochána to pursue it with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.”

Read: Protesters march to Tallaght Garda Station in solidarity with “The Jobstown 23″

Read: ‘The fear of going to prison is horrible’: Jobstown protesters still haven’t been told they’re being charged

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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