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Minister for Justice Helen McEntee RollingNews.ie
Big Brother

McEntee appoints High Court judges to oversee use of surveillance and data retention by gardaí

As part of his role, Justice O’Connor may inform the Minister for Justice if he believes that a particular interception warrant should be cancelled, which the Minister will then action.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE Helen McEntee informed Cabinet today of the appointment of two High Court judges to oversee interception, data retention and electronic surveillance laws in the State. 

The two judges will be responsible for different areas of oversight. 

Surveillance in Ireland is largely governed by two laws: the 1993 Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages Act, and the 2009 Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act.

Mr Justice Tony O’Connor of the High Court has been appointed under the 1993 Act to investigate any case in which an interception has been authorised or phone data has been accessed by An Garda Síochána, the Permanent Defence Forces, Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), or in some cases the Revenue Commissioners.

As part of his role, Justice O’Connor may inform the Minister for Justice if he believes that a particular interception warrant should be cancelled, which the Minister will then action.

Justice O’Connor replaces Judge Charles Meenan to serve as the Designated Judge in accordance with the 1993 Act and the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011.

Meanwhile, Justice Michael Twomey has been reappointed to his role overseeing interception warrants issued by gardaí.

His appointment falls under Section 12 of the 2009 Act which relates to surveillance and the use of tracking devices by An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the Revenue Commissioners.

The purpose of his role is to provide independent, judicial oversight of the operation of this regime in the public interest. 

According to Helen McEntee, the extension of Justice Twomey’s appointment was appropriate given that it is proposed that an Independent Examiner of Security Legislation be established next year, which will take over the functions of both Designated Judges.

Both judges will serve a term of five years or until the post of the Independent Examiner is established.

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