Tag Archives: GSOC



Meanwhile, in yesterday’s Irish Independent…

A leak about leaks written by man who got leak.

Paul Williams reported:

A three-year GSOC investigation into claims by Independent TD Clare Daly that gardaí leaked details of her arrest for suspected drink-driving has been closed after finding no evidence to support the allegation.

The controversial probe was launched after Ms Daly had lodged a complaint alleging that gardaí leaked details of her arrest for suspected drink driving on January 28, 2013 – subsequent tests showed that Ms Daly was below the limit….

Garda cleared of leaking TD arrest details (Irish Independent)

Previously: The Daly What

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Sunday World crime correspondant Nicola Tallant, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd and John Devine, of Transparency International Ireland on TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne last night

Further to the recent reports that GSOC accessed the telephone records of three journalists without their knowledge or consent – and this morning’s reports that 62,000 applications for access to landline, mobile phone and internet records were made over five years, the majority by Gardaí…

Last night’s panel on the Tonight with Vincent Browne show, presented by Michael Clifford of the Irish Examiner, discussed the matter.

On the panel were Sunday World crime correspondant Nicola Tallant, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd and John Devine, of Transparency International Ireland.

They discussed last year’s RTE reports about how Paul Murphy was to be charged, the relationship between some gardaí and some members of the media and Nicola Tallant’s own complaint to GSOC about gardaí allegedly accessing her phone records.

Grab a tay.

Michael Clifford: “You work in the area of crime, what do you think of this story? How it’s being handled?”

Nicola Tallant: “Yeah, you just mentioned there that obviously the fight against crime, when you see it in the courts, obviously surveillance and phone records and all that are vital. I think before 2011, when the powers came to the gardaí, that they could, anyone over Superintendent level could sign off to get anybody’s phone records. It was actually dealt with…”

Clifford: “Chief superintendent, I think…”

Tallant: “Under the Terrorism Act. So that is how it has transferred now, it has gone from, it had been dealt with under the Terrorism Act when it didn’t exactly have to be an act of terrorism that you were investigating but it had to be pretty high up. It’s now transformed to if, it’s a culmination I think of this data protection plus the 2005 Garda Síochána Act which makes it illegal for a member of the guards to pass on leaked information that causes harm. You know, the information cannot just be, it’s not illegal for them just to…”

Clifford: “But any confidential information, and most of which guards would have, when you says causes harm, I don’t think there’s any provision that passing on information has to cause harm. How do you define harm?”

Tallant: “Well they do define the harm actually, in the act, and they define it, it is actually quite, there’s a list of things that are defined as harm and they include collapsing trials, that kind of…”

Clifford: “Reputation?”

Tallant: “There’s a few, you know, identifying a witness who has given information in confidentiality, they’re quite strict actually…”

Clifford: “Yeah.”

Tallant: “And I think it has probably been misused a little bit by guards as a bit of a fishing exercise to see who’s talking to the media.”

Clifford: “And is there not also a question, to be fair, that an awful lot of the information that flows from Garda sources to the media is tittle tattle, is invasive of people and, basically, in terms of any test in the public interest, it doesn’t pass it?”

Tallant: “Well some of it is and some of it is very relevant…”

Clifford: “Some of it is but a lot of it isn’t.”

Tallant: “Well, I mean, what, it depends on what you consider to be tittle tattle, what you consider to be in the public interest…”

Clifford: “I’ll give you an example – Paul Murphy beside you. Paul you’ve the issue whereby there was a leak to the media about the fact that you were going to face prosecution – and we’re not touching  the substance of the prosecution, but just in terms of how that came about. How did that come about?”

Paul Murphy: “Yes, the first I heard that myself and 20 something other people would be charged with false imprisonment and other charges related to the protests last year was on RTE Radio from Paul Reynolds, the crime correspondent. That was when we heard we were going to be charged, then nothing actually happened for weeks and weeks. And then the day before we actually were charged, as far as I remember, I got a call, again from Paul Reynolds,  at 5.55pm,  to say that he was going on Six One, headline news,  and to tell us that we were going to be charged.”

Clifford: “And it’s also, just to put a bit of context on it from recollection. Two days before that first, news report on RTE, I think there was a newspaper report suggesting that you wouldn’t be charged and one could surmise that somebody somewhere felt it might be necessary to get word out there to the contrary and suddenly, it appears in RTE.”

Murphy: “Correct, and that whole experience for me raised a significant question mark over the relationship between the gardaí, or some gardaí, and some journalists and the reality that some journalists act, in some way, as an extension of the Garda Press Office. They give a Garda line on certain stories in exchange for which they get information and I think that’s extremely damaging from the point of view of public debate, from the point of view of our reputation because I think there was a purpose for that being leaked which contradicts the previous story and also to soften opinion for what was a shocking event: the idea that people were being charged with false imprisonment…”

Clifford: “Well it’s conjecture whether that was, yeah, fair enough. John [Devine], what do you think of Paul’s assessment of that relationship?”

John Devine: “Yeah, we’ve pointed out in the wake of the Garda whistleblower controversy that there seems to be two cosy relationships between some journalists and the gardaí. And it’s not something that just affects media in Ireland. Elizabeth Filkin and Lord Leveson in the UK reported on the cosy relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the British press which were subject to investigation by Leveson and found that, in many cases, payments were being made to police officers for information, they were being wined and dined, they…”

Clifford: “I don’t think there’s any evidence whatsoever that that goes on in this jurisdiction..”

Devine: “I’m not, it’s not to say that there’s anything of, to that level, happening here but, at the same time, many of our journalists are dependent on the gardaí, for the information that feeds their stories. And Leveson and Filkin pointed out that this is an incentive for journalists to toe the line, to be uncritical, to not question police decisions and to turn a blind eye to abuses and, in some cases, by…”

Clifford: “What do you think of that Nicola?”

Tallant:There seems to be this kind of myth that is growing all the time, that crime correspondents are just fed a line from gardaí or they go down to headquarters and are given a story. My experience, and I’ve been at it 20 years or more, is that a guard wouldn’t know a story really if it hit them in the face. Now a journalist, a journalist knows a story, a journalist goes after a story and they have various sources of information. A lot of them get information on the ground on stories. People covering a daily beat. We have that body in the suitcase there this week that would be, the daily journalists are following that every day. They’re out on the crime scene.”

Devine: “We do know some crime journalists are favoured and this isn’t an Irish phenomenon, this is in the UK, it’s in the United States, there are some journalists who will have information that their colleagues will not have and that’s by virtue of the fact they’ve nurtured a relationship with their contacts in the police.”

Clifford: “And there is one other dynamic there, Nicola, in terms of GSOC and these phone records. GSOC have been at loggerheads with the gardaí on a number of occasions over the last few years and I think it would be fair to say that, in a number of incidences, reportage of that dispute was skewed very much in favour of the gardaí and against GSOC. And now we’ve a scenario where GSOC have apparently these untrammelled powers and they well be targeting the very journalists they might believe are targeting them, all of course, none of it intentional but I think it would be fair enough to surmise that there will be no love lost there, in those quarters.”

Tallant: “I actually think GSOC have done all of us a favour in journalism by the fact the very fact that they have focused this. They have gone in, they have been given these powers and they’ve gone into it like bulldozers and they have really made it very obvious what they were doing with the phone records. I’ve spoken to some of the journalists who are involved in it and it was just quite astounding how obvious they’ve made it. You see the guards have been doing this for years but they’ve been doing it much sneakier…”

Clifford: “Clare Daly made the point today and it was pretty valid. Us in the media, including myself we didn’t pay a hell of a lot of attention to it until the focus was turned on journalists.”

Tallant: “Well I paid attention to it because I made a complaint actually about my phone, about gardai accessing the records from my phone way back, from 2010, but I made the complaint to GSOC who were very positive about it in the beginning and came back to me just before Christmas to say there wasn’t anything that they could do, the guards couldn’t answer them…”

Related: No widespread snooping on private citizens (RTE)

Earlier: How Many?

Previously: “Come Back When You’re Sober”

Watch back in full here



Almost 62,000 applications for access to landline, mobile phone and internet data were made to companies providing services to the Irish public by State authorities in a five-year period.

An Garda Síochána made almost all of the requests, security sources have told The Irish Times.

…The information received for the five-year period to the end of 2012 has been made available by the Irish authorities to the European Commission. Between 2008 and 2012 the number of applications for data reached 61,823; a rate of more than 1,000 a month. Of those, 98.7 per cent were granted.

… In 2012, half of the requests made by the Garda and other agencies such as GSOC, Defence Forces and Revenue Commissioners related to mobile phone records. The remaining applications for data were split roughly evenly between landlines and internet services.

Majority of 62,000 data requests made by Garda (Irish Times)

Previously: GSOC Snoop Guide

They Snoop To Conquer

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Office of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission on Abbey Street Upper, Dublin

Further to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission accessing journalists’ phone records as part of investigations into alleged leaks to media, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has created a ‘handy guide to phone number snooping powers’.

It explains…

Is GSOC allowed to gain access to this information under Irish law?

Yes. Both the Gardaí and investigators with GSOC can access phone records and other personal information, if it is needed to assist them with an investigation of a possible crime. In this instance, GSOC has the same powers to investigate the Gardaí as the Gardaí would have if they were investigating anyone else on suspicion of an offence.

How? In what circumstances?

The key here is that a Garda who leaks confidential information could be guilty of an offence. Under section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, it is an offence to disclose information received in the course of duties as a Garda if the Garda knows that the information is likely to have a “harmful effect”. This includes, for example, information that is published and relates to the victim of a crime or a witness to a criminal trial, or leads to a serious infringement of a person’s right to privacy (as well as other issues).

The same piece of 2005 legislation (section 98) gives members of GSOC the same powers as Gardaí if they are investigating a potential offence.

And, since 2011, Gardaí have the power to access phone records (Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011).

It follows that, because GSOC investigators are looking at a potential offence – the leaking of confidential information – they also have the power to access personal records, including those of third parties like journalists.

Sounds a bit like Big Brother. Is there no protection for our right to privacy?

Yes there is, but it’s weak.

GSOC investigators would have to get sign off by one of the three members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. That’s all.

How about authorisation from an external body? I thought there was “judicial oversight”?

No, both the Gardaí and GSOC can obtain sign off for these powers without referring to any external body.

A judge does not need to give permission for these records to be obtained.

However, a judge reviews the access requests made by State agencies and gives a report to the Taoiseach, at least every year. The judge can also investigate cases.

Also, if you have reason to think that your data has been requested by the Gardaí, GSOC or other State body, you can make a complaint to the “Complaints Referee”.

Do GSOC and the Gardaí have other powers to gather private information?

Yes, since 1993, the Gardaí have had a lawful power to intercept telephone calls and, since 2009, to engage in hidden surveillance. In 2015, both of these powers were also extended to GSOC investigators.

Again, the privacy safeguards surrounding these activities by GSOC and the Gardaí are weak.

What about protection of journalists’ sources?

A journalist’s right to protect sources or, journalistic privilege, is a key pillar of the freedom of the press. This is protected under Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and has been acknowledged formally as a constitutional principle by the Supreme Court in Mahon Tribunal v Keena and Kennedy. This does not mean that journalists can never be forced to reveal their sources, but any order to do so must be proportionate, and subject to strict oversight, for example by a judge.

What does the ICCL think should happen now?

We agree with the Minister for Justice and Equality that there needs to be a full review of all of these powers. That review must be independent, transparent and use human rights standards around data protection and privacy as key benchmarks. Particular attention should be paid to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights under Article 8 (right to privacy) of the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as relevant case law of the European Court of Justice. The recommendations must be published and acted upon promptly, with a clear implementation schedule.

ICCL release a “handy guide” to the “phone snooping” powers of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and An Garda Síochána (ICCL)

Cabinet to discuss GSOC access of journalists’ phone records (RTE)

Previously: They Snoop To Conquer

Mark Stedman/Rollingnews.ie

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Data gathering.

*dry swallow*

Intelligence Analyst in the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC)


The mobile phone records of two journalists have been accessed without their knowledge or consent as part of a criminal inquiry into a third party.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) scrutinised the phone records of the Dublin-based journalists after a friend of deceased model Katy French lodged complaints about gardaí allegedly leaking information.
The commission was granted Garda-style powers last year to access phone records if required during the investigation of serious offences.

The inquiry into the complaints represents the first time the commission’s use of the new power has emerged publicly. Accessing journalists’ phone records has always been contentious and has traditionally only occurred in exceptional circumstances.

GSOC trawls journalists’ phone records in inquiry (Conor Lally, Irish Times)


Gemma O’Doherty

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is carrying out a criminal investigation, under Section 98 of the Garda Siochana Act, into complaints made by Gemma O’Doherty, arising from her work as a journalist.

Ms O’Doherty has alleged that she’s been subjected to a campaign of harassment, intimidation, surveillance and endangerment of her personal safety since January 2011.

Cases worked on include Fr Niall Molloy, Shane O’Farrell, Shane Tuohey, the wiping of former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan‘s penalty points and summonses not being delivered to Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy, Garda whistleblowers, Limerick’s disappeared, Jim Goonan, Mary Boyle and Traveller children’s names being placed on PULSE.

Ms O’Doherty alleges this campaign began when she first started to publish evidence in relation to the Fr Molloy murder investigation. She believes this Garda action against her is ongoing and that it is being conducted on a covert and unlawful basis.

Ms O’Doherty is alleging that her telephone and email account continue to be interfered with and intercepted unlawfully by members of An Garda Síochána.


mmolloyFr Niall Molloy

Following the publication of the McGinn review of the investigation onto the 1985 violent death of Fr Niall Molloy which highlighted  shortcomings in the initial Garda investigation.

Via Justice for Fr Niall Molloy:

The family of Fr Niall Molloy is taking a case for ‘neglect of duty’ against the Gardai for failing to properly investigate the death of the Roscommon priest 30 years ago.

Relatives of the murdered priest plan to a complain to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) over serious shortcomings in the initial 1985 investigation, which they have described as “botched” and “shambolic”.

The shortcomings were identified by the Garda’s own Serious Crime Review Team, which re-examined the unsolved killing of the 52-year-old cleric between 2010 and 2013.

“We have carefully considered the findings of the McGinn report and the serious shortcomings identified in the initial Garda investigation, which we believe cannot now be ignored by the Garda Ombudsman,” Henry McCourt, a nephew of Fr Molloy’s, said.

“The McGinn report has only confirmed our long held opinion that the initial investigation in 1985 was botched at best and we intend to make a complaint for neglect of duty to the Garda Ombudsman.”

Family members were previously advised that they were outside the permitted time period to make a complaint. This time, however, the family believes that the McGinn findings arm them with certain new facts to take a case against Gardai.

“Based on what the McGinn report has found and other official documentation that has come to our attention we’re going to make a fresh complaint to the Garda Ombudsman, which has some discretion to consider complaints relating to cases that are more than 12 months old,” Bill Maher, another nephew of Fr Molloy’s, said.

“We have no doubt that Gardai did not investigate Fr Niall’s death properly. The shortcomings identified are so basic that we’re left wondering was it pure incompetence on the part of Gardai or has there been a cover-up,” he added.

Mr Maher said that Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan should also clarify comments that the McGinn report would bring “some comfort” to the family.

“We are confounded and deeply upset by the Garda Commissioner’s remarks. How could this report, which shows such flagrant failings in basic policing, bring us any comfort?” Mr Maher said.

Previously: The McGinn Report : A Conclusion

Previously: Fr Molloy on Broadsheet


John Mooney, security correspondent of The Sunday Times

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission released a statement yesterday saying its investigation into the leak of the GSOC ‘bugging’ story to John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, yielded no result.

Of the investigation, led by Mark Connaughton SC, GSOC found:

The report was unable to establish individual responsibility for any disclosure, either on the part of an employee of GSOC or any other party. It concludes that it is difficult to identify what additional information could usefully advance matters, short of obtaining the co-operation of the journalist in question, who declined the invitation.

Further to this, Mr Mooney was interviewed on RTÉ One’s Today With Seán O’Rourke show this morning.

From the interview:

Seán O’Rourke: “The Cooke Report looked at the bugging and it basically dismissed, I think in large measure, a lot of what was suggested by GSOC, about the bugging, whether it happened and so forth.”

Mooney: “But, you could say that, but the one thing I would say about the Cooke Report is that it made no reference to the background to all of this which was, I was just astonished with. I think it also, he, Judge Cooke has subsequently amended the report twice. He misquoted, The Sunday Times wrote a letter to state, the admission that he’d done that. He subsequently amended it a second time in relation to claims that he made about an individual who had communicated with him. But, if you look at the report, Verrimus, the company that did the security audit on GSOC maintain and stand over their findings. I’m not technically qualified in this area to say whether they’re right or wrong but if you talk to them now, they will say they were right. And, in terms of Cooke, and I kind of don’t like to become a player in these things, I would maybe defer to other impartial observers on it. They stated that he showed a remarkable lack of curiosity about some of the findings that he made. For example, he talks about white vans being outside, the Garda Ombudsman’s office, they gave him quite extensive interviews about why they believed they were under surveillance, leaving aside the technical stuff that they had uncovered…”

O’Rourke: “Yes, the core of the thing was, I think or one of the strong elements at least, that there was equipment being used that was only available to State security services. Now that seems to have been largely dismissed.”

Mooney: “What we had actually said, in our original story, is that Government-level technology, which it was. He says that you can buy IMSI catchers but I’ve spoken to a lot of people around the world about this type of technology and those sort of devices really are dependent on the network, whether it’s a 3G or 4G network and all that sort of stuff, so…”

O’Rourke: “Right, John, coming back to this finding now, it seems to have hit a dead end. Seven suspects. Apparently the leaker had to be one of those seven people. They can’t identify who it was, so surely they’re seriously undermined, their credibility is undermined because anybody thinking of having any relations with them or any dealings with them has to be asking him or herself, ‘well, look where is this going to end up, will it be on the front page of The Sunday Times?'”

Mooney: “Well, I’d hope so. My attitude on that is that, how would I put this?…journalists have a job to do. And, in my particular line of work, where we’re dealing with the heavier end of matters, we go to extraordinary lengths to protect people, there’s lots of different…”

O’Rourke: “That’s true, John..”

Mooney: ‘There’s lots of different issues that I, for example, I have not chosen to publish out of national security reasons, where there would be representatives and representations made to us by Garda headquarters, whatever. But we publish a lot of information, we’ve had lots of reports, really since the beginning of the year that were confidential and Government reports on all sorts of matters that have been published and we have quoted word-for-word in the paper. My attitude to this is that, for some reason, people have zoned in on information that we have concerning the activities of the Garda Ombudsman but, I mean, we published the Roma report a couple of weeks ago, we published another GSOC report about a shooting fatality in Lucan which was quite serious, three or four weeks ago…”

O’Rourke: “Yes, but surely an agency like that, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission should be able to carry out its business and give people assurances that, if they cooperate and if they give information, it will not go any further. Now they’re clearly in no position to do that. You just listed a litany of reports that you’ve published. And, fair play to you, that’s your job, right? But you put yourself in a position of somebody who’s been asked to cooperate with that. That agency’s credibility is shot surely?

Mooney: “Well I wouldn’t agree with that assumption because we publish a lot of stories on the basis of very sensitive information that we get from all sorts of agencies. That’s what journalists do. And investigative journalism, that’s what it involves. The only thing that I’m concerned about is producing information that is in the public interest and protecting…”

Talk over each other

O’Rourke: “You can’t be accused of anything, other than doing your job. And that’s accepted but a lot of heads have rolled I suppose in the justice area, apparently as a result of this bugging controversy and other stuff that’s happened. Now Alan Shatter certainly feels aggrieved and he’s actually gone to the High Court so we better be a little bit careful about what we say about the fact that he wasn’t interviewed by Mr Cooke – sorry, sorry, I beg your pardon, by Guerin, I beg your pardon. There’s so many reports, it’s easy to get them confused. But, at the same time though, like do you feel that maybe he, Shatter, and Martin Callinan, to a certain extent, have a right to feel aggrieved at this stage?”

Mooney: “I think Martin Callinan has a right to feel aggrieved over what happened to him which is subject to an investigation by Justice Fennelly. We’ve been highlighting the issues, the constitutional issues, that are raised as a result of the manner in which he was forced to resign. In terms of Alan Shatter, Alan Shatter has some very valid points about Guerin which, I think in time, is going to be shown to be a very flawed report. I think the findings that are made against some senior gardaí are completely flawed and wrong, but in stating that, it should be stated that Alan Shatter mishandled and did the wrong thing in various matters in the Justice portfolio. This isn’t just about GSOC or anything else. This is in relation to whistleblowers and other matters. I think any position that he finds himself now in really is one of his own making. In relation to Marin Callinan, I think Martin Callinan was forced into a position that I think is going to be called into question in a major way quite shortly by Justice Fennelly, that’s an independent reading of it. But, in stating that, Martin Callinan, and people are forgetting this, Martin Callinan was in charge of the guards when there was huge obstruction placed in front of the Garda Ombudsman which is a properly constituted body within this country and he was responsible for that. So, while he may have went for something…”

O’Rourke: “They had it out publicly and privately about the levels of cooperation. Look we’ll leave it there…”

Listen back in full here

Report of a fact-finding investigation into the possible disclosure of confidential information from within GSOC (GSOC)

Previously: ‘They’ve Done Their Damndest To Cover Up’

The Thin Blue Timeline [Updated]


The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has admitted it possesses and uses a controversial cellphone surveillance tool currently at the center of several legal debates across the country. The acknowledgement comes months after an investigative report filed by Sacramento television station KXTV that revealed several law enforcement agencies throughout California had purchased or possessed a cellphone surveillance tool called a “Stingray”.

Sound familiar?

Sacramento Sheriff’s Department Admits Using Stingray Spy Tool (Matthew Keys, The Blot)

Any excuse.

Pic: Extremetech

Previously: Same Sheet Different Day

Put A GSOC In It

“We Are Independent”

‘They’ve Done Their Damndest To Cover Up’

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You may have seen the video footage of John Rooney, 22, which shows him being dragged upside down by gardai, forcing his head to scrape along the ground, outside the US embassy on Saturday during a protest in support of the people of Gaza.

Mr Rooney then began to have an epileptic seizure and friends needed to give him medicine.

The Irish Mirror has since reported that Mr Rooney plans to make a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission over the incident.

Video: GSOC probe to be launched after gardai filmed dragging protester’s head along the ground (Irish Mirror)