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Former garda commissioner's phone to be examined - but SIM may have been destroyed three years ago

There have been fresh calls today for the Commissioner to stand aside as an investigation is held.

25/5/2012. Launch of CRI Alerts Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the current Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

A COMMISSION OF inquiry will be asked to examine all mobile phone records from former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the current Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan over a two year period between 2012 and 2014.

However, there are concerns over what mobile phone information will be available from Martin Callinan’s phone after a previous investigation found that information from his work mobile phone may have been destroyed when he left office in 2014.

Based on former High Court Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill’s findings and recommendations, the Taoiseach approved a commission of investigation into allegations that a smear campaign against whistleblower Maurice McCabe was initiated by senior gardaí.

Yesterday the terms of reference for that inquiry were published.

The heavily redacted report states:

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Callinan’s mobile phone has also featured in an ongoing inquiry – the Fennelly Commission, which revealed that Callinan had eight to 10 bags of his personal papers shredded after announcing his departure.

Commission of Inquiry Former head of the Garda Press Office, Superintendent David Taylor and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Source: Laura Hutton

The commission chaired by retired Supreme Court justice Niall Fennelly details the circumstances surrounding Callinan’s departure on 25 March 2014.

It stated that it was unable to locate data from the official garda mobile phone used by Callinan.

Callinan told the commission he used an official phone and did not know where it was. The inquiry was told the phone had been returned to Callinan after the SIM card was removed and subsequently destroyed.

After the commission asked him to, Callinan found the phone and furnished it to the inquiry but it had no SIM card and no information stored on it. The commission then asked for details on how the SIM had been destroyed and for garda policy on mobile phones of former members.

It was revealed that it had been “cancelled remotely on 30 May 2014 and had not been used since 16 April 2014″.

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The Charleton inquiry aims to examine Callinan’s records for a two-year period up to that date.

At the time, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said files and the SIM card should have been available to the Fennelly Commission.

She said the incident needed to be examined and said new measures should be introduced so gardaí know what the procedures are going forward for when someone leaves office.

When asked what review of procedures had taken place in terms of the destroying of records, and what recommendations were put forward, a statement from the Department of Justice to TheJournal.ie in May 2016, stated: 

The Garda Commissioner indicated at the time that she was appointing an Assistant Commissioner to review all aspects of the interim Fennelly report. The department understands that this review encompasses issues relating to the retention of documents. The details of that review are a matter for An Garda Síochána.

TheJournal.ie contacted the department for an updated comment but they could not comment due to the draft order establishing the commission being laid before the Oireachtas yesterday.

Read: You’re hearing a lot about garda whistleblowers today – here’s why>

Read: Nóirín O’Sullivan ‘made allegations of sexual crimes against Maurice McCabe to journalists’, Dáil hears>

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