Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins has called on the Justice Minister Alan Shatter to clarify comments he was reported as having made about alleged covert surveillance of the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission. The Justice Minister was reported as prioritising an explanation from GSOC about why they did not inform him of their decision to employ investigators.
Deputy Collins commented, “While I welcome any attempt to get to the bottom of these extraordinary claims, one element of the Minister’s response would give some cause for concern.
“The Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission is appointed by Uachtarán na hÉireann, not the Minister, and it is an independent statutory body. Any attempt to shift the focus in this affair from the claim of alleged covert surveillance, to a question of whether or not the Commission informed Alan Shatter about their suspicions is to entirely miss the significance of the central allegations. Any attempt to misdirect attention will be resisted by Fianna Fáil. Our concerns about this point are heightened by the Taoiseach’s apparent support for Minister Shatter’s position.
“The Minister needs to realise the seriousness of this situation and move quickly to establish who is responsible for this surveillance and on whose authority the individual or organisation was acting. Questions about the timeliness of GSOC telling the Minister can be dealt with in due course.
“I take Minister Shatter on his word that he was not involved and was not aware of it, but that raises all sorts of additional questions. Fianna Fáil is asking for the Minister to clarify his comments and make it clear that GSOC’s decision to investigate their concerns is not the real problem here.”