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Shatter to address ‘grave concerns, unanswered questions’ over GSOC bugging

The Minister for Justice will appear before an Oireachtas committee later today to discuss the suspected surveillance of the Ombudsman’s office.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter is to face questions later today on the controversy over reported bugging at the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

He will appear before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions ‘to consider on-going developments’ in the reported WiFi surveillance and phone tapping a the offices of the Ombudsman.

Chair of the Committee Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said the meeting will be “conscious of the need to secure public confidence in the administration of justice.”

Speaking on a Private Members motion from Sinn Féin on the issue, the minister said that he is concerned that some information was not given to him before his Dáil appearance last week.

In his speech he said that a report he received from IT security consultancy firm RITS that set out to clarify the technical information contained in the Verrimus report gives an opinion that “there is no evidence of any technical or electronic surveillance against GSOC”.

He said that he has received more information on the unexplained accessing of the wifi at the GSOC offices, but “as it was confirmed to me that the wifi at no stage accessed any information whatsoever contained in GSOC’s office, there was, of course, no real breach of GSOCs security”.

Criticism

The minister has faced criticism over his handling of the controversy, with the Irish Council of Civil Liberties suggesting that he ‘may have been editorial with the truth’, and has joined calls for an independent inquiry.

However, the Tánaiste defended the government’s handling of the incident, highlighting Shatter’s appearance today as a key moment in the process.

“It’s called accountability,” he said.

The security company that carried investigations at the Ombudsman’s Dublin headquarters yesterday branded reports in the Irish Independent that ‘anomalies’ identified were the result of interference from a nearby cafe’s WiFi connection and the mobile phone of an employee.

Verrimus

In a statement, Verrimus said it cannot comment specifically on the findings of the security sweep, but said it will “correct technical inaccuracies in reporting”.

The company said it was not possible for a mobile phone of one of its employees to have been the source.

‘A mobile phone cannot create a 3G base station’ the company said in a statement.

It also dismissed the suggestion that the coffee shop had been responsible for the external wi-fi network reportedly found to be in operation.

“It’s called accountability”: Tánaiste defends course of GSOC bugging controversy >

Read: Surveillance company says Paul Williams report on GSOC was “wholly inaccurate” >

Column: There’s no credible alternative to an independent inquiry into GSOC allegations >

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Nicky Ryan

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