“It Feels Like We’re Being Spied On”

at

2014-03-24 11.39.57

[From yesterday’s Sunday Times]

You’ll recall two posts about allegations of Traveller children being placed on the PULSE system.

The first, from October last year, included a letter that former Garda John Wilson sent to his senior management in October 2011, alleging that many Traveller babies – one as young as 16 days old – had their names put on the PULSE system, with each child getting a criminal intelligence PULSE number. Mr Wilson has yet to receive a reply for this letter.

The second, earlier this month, detailed questions put to Justice Minister Alan Shatter in relation to the allegations by TDs Clare Daly, of United Left Alliance, and Padraig MachLochlainn, of Sinn Féin, and Mr Shatter’s response.

Essentially, the two TDs asked Minister Shatter to confirm the allegations.

Minister Shatter replied:

“I am informed by the Commissioner that PULSE does not solely capture information on offenders, but is also used to store information on Garda interactions with individuals, whether adults or children, such as victims of crime, persons injured in road traffic accidents and child welfare incidents.”

“All persons are subject to the same PULSE recording policy and procedures. I have also been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda Síochána does not engage in ethnic profiling, and specifically that it does not engage in data gathering or data mining based upon discriminatory profiling in respect of race, colour, language, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin, ethnicity or membership of the Traveller community.”

Well.

Yesterday, in the Sunday Times, above, former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty wrote about Cork Traveller Caroline Dunne, whose son Francis and daughter Mary’s details were placed on PULSE after Ms Dunne went to a Garda station in 2011 to get passport forms for her children signed. The children were aged two and one at the time.

Ms O’Doherty reported [not online]:

“Printouts of her children’s entries on the Pulse system have been seen by The Sunday Times, and were shown to Dunne this weekend…The Pulse entry states that the reason for inputting the children’s UD and dates of birth was ‘intelligence’.

“Dunne said: ‘I can think of absolutely no reason why my two children should be put on the garda computer system and given criminal intelligence numbers. As a family we are in total shock. It feels like we are being spied on. I am appalled to think my children’s privacy has been breached in this way. It’s horrible to think a baby who can barely walk or talk would have their data recorded on Pulse. It’s been sitting on the garda computers for nearly three years without us knowing. How could that happen?”

Previously: Early Profiling

Traveller Children And Pulse