‘Certain Events Prompted This Security Sweep’

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John Mooney, of the Sunday Times, and Mark Kelly, of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, joined David McCullagh on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night to talk about Mr Mooney’s story concerning the bugging of the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission building.

Their appearance followed the release of a statement by GSOC which stated there was “no evidence of Garda misconduct”  and which also confirmed the existence of “three technical and electronic anomalies”. It also followed the release of a statement by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in which he demanded to know why gardaí were “suspected of complicity” by GSOC.

Mr Mooney explained that, while the GSOC statement didn’t detail the ‘anomalies’, he claimed they were in fact: a phone in a conference room was being monitored, a Wi-Fi device was accessed but deleted all data accessed/potentially collected once it realised it was detected, and a shadow Wi-Fi was set up around the GSOC building which “piggybacked” on GSOC’s own Wi-Fi system which allowed for further monitoring.

Mr Mooney said some of the monitoring was traced back to a British IP address which, he said, was “clever” because it prohibited GSOC from pursuing an inquiry into the UK, as such a move would be beyond its remit.

Then Mark Kelly talked about a potential paper trail if the surveillance was legal before Mr Mooney said he knows certain events prompted the surveillance sweep.

Mark Kelly: “There has yet to be an unequivocal statement that there has been no surveillance of GSOC by An Garda because there is a legal power in the [Criminal Justice Surveillance] Act, from 2009 for Special Branch, a section of the Defence Forces, called G2,  and also for Revenue Commissioners to lawfully engage in surveillance, but that leaves a paper trail. I think a starting point in answering the central question which is: who bugged GSOC? It’s not about who  reported to the Minister [for Justice, Alan Shatter] and when. It’s not about what did GSOC know that they haven’t told us, it’s about who bugged GSOC? And a central part of getting to the truth about that, I think is what people want to hear is eliminating people who are innocent. So, if it is the case that the guards have had no involvement whatsoever, in terms of the existing legal framework, let that clearly be said.”

David McCullagh: “Ok, and for a legal surveillance operation, you need to go to a judge and you need to get approval and all that sort of thing so, as you say, there would be a paper trail, there would be records of all of that and it should be roughly straightforward then to issue a statement?”

Kelly: “It should and I’m quite surprised that hasn’t happened yet been done. Perhaps the minister will do it tomorrow. But then, there’s a second element to a possible investigation. If this surveillance is not being carried out lawfully, and we’ve no reason to think it has been carried out lawfully,  or a reason is there for it to be carried out lawfully, has it been carried out unlawfully? But by agents of the state who have access to the appropriate technology…”

McCullagh: “So we’re talking about rogue elements, the possibility of rogue elements?”

Kelly: “The possibility of rogue elements.”

Later

Mooney: “I think it’s just very important as well to ask why did they [GSOC] do this? What  made them feel that they were under surveillance and someone was monitoring them? Simon O’Brien, the GSOC chairman, made a reference to RTÉ tonight that this was a general search: I don’t believe that. In fact, I know that there was certain events [that] prompted this particular security sweep. And that is the omission in this [the GSOC] statement that really, urgently needs to be clarified.”

Watch in full here