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Thousands of hours of recorded garda calls will have to be transcribed for inquiry

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said that the transcription process would ‘not be an easy exercise and obviously will take some time’.

Alan Shatter in the Dáil yesterday.
Alan Shatter in the Dáil yesterday.
Image: Screengrab/Oireachtas TV

FOLLOWING REVELATIONS THAT incoming and outgoing calls in Garda stations across the country were recorded since the 1980s, the government announced that a Commission of Inquiry would be set up to investigate.

Given the sheer volume of tapes in question, the commission, expected to be chaired by Supreme Court judge, could take several weeks to even get under way.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that there are approximately 2,500 tapes dating from the 1980s until 2008, when the recording process became digital. The practice of recording Garda calls ceased in November 2013.

A spokeswoman for the government said that the terms of reference of the commission are “currently being worked on”, and did not know when they will be released.

‘Not an easy exercise’

Justice Minister Alan Shatter told the Dáil yesterday that all relevant recordings would have to be transcribed and analysed.

“As part of the commission of inquiry that will take place, these tapes will have to be transcribed to ascertain the importance or otherwise of the information on them. That will not be an easy exercise and obviously will take some time. Then there is the question of what might be digitally recorded and what might be on an old-fashioned tape system,” Shatter stated.

He added that there were “many issues” on which the government required “clarity”, including whether or not there are additional tapes.


When Deputy Catherine Murphy asked Shatter if the recordings in question would be destroyed, he responded:  ”At this moment in time, I do not believe this is something that should occur.”

He noted that any such destruction “could result in a miscarriage of justice, where there is information on a tape that might be of relevance to some form of court proceeding. If information emerged on the tapes on other matters, destruction of the tapes could result in that information ceasing to be available. This is an issue in respect of which great care and caution needs to be undertaken.”

Shatter said that no recordings would be destroyed until “such time as what is contained on these tapes is known and understood and the statutory commission of inquiry has undertaken and completed its work”.

IN FULL: Everything you need to know about GardaGate in one place

Revealed: Did former Justice ministers know about the garda recordings? We asked…

Background: Govt reveals: Incoming and outgoing calls at Garda stations taped ‘since the 1980s’

Catch up: GardaGate: Here’s everything we learned today, what it means and the questions that remain

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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