The Smoking Phone


Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan at the Policing Authority last November

You may recall the Disclosures Tribunal, led by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton, which is investigating allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe and claims made by Garda Keith Harrison.

In yesterday’s The Sunday Times. John Mooney reported that a phone used by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan – during 2013/2014, the time of the alleged smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe – has gone missing.

Mr Mooney reported:

It was one of a number of smartphones sought by Peter Charleton, the Supreme Court judge who is investigating whether there was a conspiracy among senior gardai to smear McCabe after he exposed abuse of the penalty-points system and raised concerns about policing in Cavan/Monaghan.

A phone used at the time by Martin Callinan, the former commissioner, has also gone missing as have mobile handsets used by other garda witnesses.

Charleton sought possession of the phones in an order his tribunal served on Garda headquarters. The judge also sought possession of Sim cards, copies of call logs and data, text messages, emails and all documents concerning a number of garda whistleblower controversies.

The missing mobile phones and Sims are unlikely to be found, according to sources in Garda headquarters.

“No one knows what became of them,” one source said. “There is no record or log to clarify if they were destroyed, recycled or fitted with new Sim cards and given to other officers. There is no central log showing what becomes of official phones.”

Emails that O’Sullivan would have sent from her phone using a private Gmail account would have been automatically deleted every 30 days, and so no record of them is likely to be found either….

Garda chief’s phone missing in smear probe (John Mooney, The Sunday Times)

In addition.

Readers may recall a report about Garda Keith Harrison by RTÉ’s This Week two weeks ago.

It reported that Garda Harrison only recently became aware that gardaí had created a Garda “profile” report on him – shortly after he raised concerns about Garda management.

This came to light after Garda Harrison’s legal team was sent a large volume of documents, following a data protection request by his team.

The tranche of documents that Garda Harrison’s team received did not include the actual profile but it included a heavily redacted email from September 1, 2014, which was sent to a series of gardaí, up to and including one at the rank of chief superintendent. Their names were all redacted.

The only unredacted line in the email stated: “I refer to meeting on 18 August … I now attach profile concerning Garda Keith Harrison” while at attachment was named ‘keith harrison profile.doc’.

Further to this.

Francesca Comyn, in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post, reported that the High Court has ordered Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to release the suspected surveillance profile on Garda Harrison following further discovery sought by Garda Harrison’s solicitor Trevor Collins.

Ms Comyn reported:

The court order is in itself unusual in that it requires an affidavit of compliance to be personally sworn by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, rather than another member of the force. O’Sullivan has been given ten weeks to comply with the ruling, which seeks a number of further records.

Noirin O’Sullivan ordered to hand over whistleblower surveillance file
 (Francesca Comyn, The Sunday Business Post)

Gardaí created ‘profile’ report into whistleblower, new documents reveal (RTE, May 14, 2017)


Commissioner O’Sullivan and Canadian ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers

In yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday.

Sam Smyth, in his column, hinted that Ms O’Sullivan might be headed for Canada…

He wrote:

The Mounties in the Rockies are calling Nóirín O’Sullivan to Canada, I’m told. Word is the embattled Garda Commissioner may be taking up a position there; both academia and security have been mentioned.

The Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Kevin Vickers, is understood to been helpful through her recent crisis – and other friends think Nóirín would be well advised to quit before a new taoiseach is in place.



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32 thoughts on “The Smoking Phone

  1. Listrade

    I think there may be one small problem with the plan to lose the phones. Gardai may have lost all records, but the phone providers won’t have. Similarly Google can return deleted emails.

    Anyway, as to the phones. You’d have to assume that given the scale of providing phones to the gardai who need them that we’ll be talking about an official RFT. More likely that the scale of the purchase and contract was so high that it would need to go on the Official Journal of the European Union.

    There are procurement rules for state bodies and it wouldn’t be accepted that you buy the phones and hoc.

    So we can find out who has the official contract.

    And the gardai may not keep the records, but the telecoms companies do. It’s their property. Rarely do you swap handsets and include the sim card. You usually keep yeah sim card or if upgrading to a newer phone, you might need to switch your number to the new card.

    It’s possible that every time someone gets a new phone they get a new sim and number, but they’d be the only company on existence who did. Unless McCabe has a text from the commissioner saying “new number who dis?”

    Also telecoms companies like a name attached to the sim. Most normal companies do, but we’ll accept the gardai aren’t normal and aren’t telling lies. In most cases the phone holder contacts the phone company with regards to issues and problems. They would need their name linked to the sim to do this.

    I don’t know if an inquiry has the power or right to compel the phone company to provide this, but that all that information is there…If they want it.

    1. joak joke jik

      how long ago did this stuff happen and how long are telecoms companies obliged to retain data?

  2. les rock

    Sorry. But what if it was actual hard evidence to fit someone up?. You can be guaranteed it would be found. It’s a bit of a nonsense at this stage, stumbling from one balls up to the next. This is just another one. This in itself is good enough for dismissal

  3. les rock

    And another thing. I’m sure Google could find every email account for her , if she used a gmail account

  4. Demos

    I have a friend who set this contract up (allegedly) and allegedly it provides a secure delete facility for phones And their data.

    Google data is a different matter but it can be kept safe from prying eyes by encryption and of course the key is on the “missing” phone….

    Information security (like any advanced technology) can be used for good or ill.

  5. Sheik Yahbouti

    Hold on, I thought the Canadians were our friends – what have they done to deserve Ms O’Sullivan? Is this some sort of tit-for-tat revenge, given that we have been sent their ‘problem gal’?

    Canada has provided refuge and a very good life to tens of thousands of us, we should think long and hard before taking this step. :-D

  6. Goosey Lucy

    LADS!! Great news!! I found yer phones- they were in the last place you’d look, don’t ya know! – shoved in the back of a junk drawer in my living room along with a bunch of old chargers and a tatty, dog -eared copy of The Prince

  7. Goosey Lucy

    How can Garda sources say that the phones are “unlikely to be found”, unless they know where they are?! I mean, saying they may prove difficult to find is one thing, but is it just me, or does “unlikely to be found” not imply a greater knowledge of the chain of ownership.
    (It’s obvious that they are deliberately missing, but I find it curious that they would use a turn of phrase that almost implies this)
    Maybe I’m reading into that phrase too much …,

    1. realPolithicks

      They’re “unlikely to be found” because they don’t want to find them.

  8. nellyb

    Can Kevin Vickers take and rehab our politicians and the rest of pub serv mgmt? I can’t afford to keep their inept @r$e$ on my payroll.

  9. Listrade

    Should also add little bit on losing phones. There would always be a record. First thing given that so many senior management seem to have lost their phones there would need to be a record for the insurance. Probably only for the telecom provider, but at least some record.

    Disposal of old phones is an issue, but also recorded. You don’t just dump phones in the bin. It’s WEEE waste, so it would have to have been collected and disposed of. That would probably be through a charity, but you’d still get a receipt. Would only state quantities, but would at least prove the transfer happened. I think that record must be kept for 5 years.

    Also handsets have unique identifiers aside from their sim. Ways and means of seeing of those handsets are still active.

    I read that the handsets are passed reused within the gardai, so they may not be lost, just used by someone else. And it’s that transfer they have no record of.

  10. nellyb

    “There would always be a record. First thing given that so many senior management seem to have lost their phones there would need to be a record for the insurance.” – you are assuming that someone WANTS to get to the bottom of it. Statistically it’s not likely the case. And you can do fupp all about that attitude, sir.

    1. Listrade

      True, but that doesn’t mean that a clear bunch of bovine effluvia is accepted without challenge.

      I mean it’s not as if we live in the crazy future where I get a new phone, log in with my ID and all my text messages, phone logs, emails, photos, phone settings suddenly appear on the new phone. As if Apple or Google have all that backed up and available with a warrant.

  11. Noel Lynch

    As all these missing phones, were government issue. One would think that a paper trail of the lost property would have been kept somewhere. My opinion would be that, failure to find such paperwork would mean that the phones were destroyed. Someone needs to find a different job or retire.

Comments are closed.

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