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Another garda report is dropping today. This is what you need to know

The report was three years in the making.

Fine Gael Have A Parliamentary Party Meeting Tonight Taoiseach Enda Kenny in thought at a parliamentary party meeting. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE LONG AWAITED report of the Fennelly Commission is being published today.

The report is one of a string of garda-related reports that have been instituted and published over the last number of years, this one was established just over three years ago.

But what’s it all about?

During the discovery process for Ian Bailey’s case against the State over his arrest for the Sophie Toscan Du Plantier murder, tapes of hundreds of phone conversations from garda stations came to light.

Although the practice was known, the systematic nature of it was not.

Its extent around the country back to the 1980s and how widespread it was raised questions about who knew what about it.

PastedImage-70704 Source: TheJournal.ie

The nature of the recordings became public knowledge in March 2014 when it was announced by the government.

In revealing the system, the government immediately announced that a statutory Commission of Investigation was being established to look into the matter.

A member of the judiciary was to lead it and Justice Nial Fennelly was subsequently selected.

fennelly Nial Fennelly Source: Gareth Chaney/RollingNews.ie

The day the revelations about the recording systems came to light, garda commissioner Martin Callinan resigned.

Callinan had already been under pressure due to his handling of a number of different whistleblowers, but the timing of his resignation in coinciding with the taping revelations raised eyebrows.

23/11/2011 Cross Border Seminar. CityNorth Hotel i Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Source: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

In a letter from Callinan to Shatter that was not seen by the justice minister until two weeks after it was sent, Callinan confirmed that gardaí had set up a working group to look at the recordings in November 2013.

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The Taoiseach became aware of the situation through Attorney General Máire Whelan, but the AG did not inform the justice minister.

Subsequently, the Taoiseach sent Department of Justice secretary general Brian Purcell to Callinan’s home to inform him about the seriousness with which the government was taking the matter.

The next day Callinan resigned.

A previous interim report from Fennelly concluded that Callinan felt he had no choice but to resign his position as Garda Commissioner after Purcell’s visit, but it stopped short of saying the Taoiseach dismissed him.

A number of subsequent interim reports from the Fennelly commission have been published and among the revelations were that Callinan had eight to ten bags of his personal papers shredded after announcing his retirement.

The remainder of the report is expected to focus on the recording system at garda stations and will conclude whether criminal cases and convictions were affected.

Read: Former garda commissioner’s phone to be examined – but SIM may have been destroyed three years ago >

Read: Micheál Martin says a gun was put to Martin Callinan’s head >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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