Tag Archives: PULSE

This afternoon.

On RTÉ’s News at One.

RTÉ’s Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds reported that two senior members of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors are not attending the group’s annual conference which began in Cavan today.

Mr Reynolds said the decision of AGSI’s vice president Paul Wallace and its deputy general secretary Antoinette Cunningham not to attend followed the news that one of its members if being investigated by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

He told Claire Byrne on RTÉ’s News At One:

“The allegation is that the member engaged in prohibitive spare time activities – specifically, engaged in outside security work, which is not permitted under the Garda code.

“Two protected disclosures have been put in, in relation to this. It’s being investigated by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“And the allegation also contains claims that false alarms were set off at a business and these were responded to by gardaí, in squad cars, patrol cars, in emergency fashion, with sirens blaring and lights flashing.

“And then these false alarms were then reported on the Garda PULSE system. So all this is being investigated by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.”

Later, the AGSI’s general secretary John Jacob told Ms Byrne:

“The association issued a press release last night in relation to this matter and they said that they haven’t been formally informed that an investigation of any sort is taking place and that the person involved has not been formally notified of an investigation taking place. But we have to believe the media reports when they say that one is taking place.”

“…The association does not know the details of the allegation.”

Mr Jacob also said the AGSI does not know who the allegation allegedly concerns.


Two senior AGSI members opt out of conference (RTE)

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Do you like comics?

Liam Geraghty writes:

PULSE – Irish Comics Now takes place tonight at 6.30pm in the Mart Firestation Gallery, Rathmines. There’ll be a pop-up comics fair, live performances of comic books and a Q&A.

It takes place as part of the French/Irish Comic Book Festival taking place today and tomorrow. Brought to you by Illustrators Ireland, The Comics Lab and Alliance Francaise. Entry free.

See here for a full programme of events.


“Referencing allegations that a number of Gardaí used the PULSE system to access information about the Dublin North’s 2013 arrest for suspected drink-driving, [former justice minister Alan] Shatter said he had found the incident very worrying.
“What isn’t generally publicly known is that I raised that issue with the Garda authorities and I expressed concern as to how that came about.
“I was subsequently advised… that in excess of 150 members of the force had accessed the PULSE system… some of them seem to think it was some sort of social website that they could look up for gossip purposes.”

Report of Alan Shatter on Newstalk about Clare Daly’s arrest and subsequent outing in the media and the Garda leaks.

Some gardaí were using PULSE as ‘a social website for gossip’, says former Justice Minister Alan Shatter (David Kearns, Irish Independent)

Bonkers writes:

The quote from the Independent suggests that Shatter is saying some 150 Gardai accessed the Pulse system to check details of Clare Daly’s arrest.If he was referring to 150 Gardai then this tops even the amount of civil servants who accessed Dolores McNamaras social welfare files after she won the EuroMillions Lottery.
In that episode I think it was 106 civil servants but the Gardai seem to have outdone them for breach of privacy when it came to Clare Daly and her drink driving arrest….

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Mark Dennehy writes:

So… remember those 1700 firearms that were listed by the Gardai as having been stolen from 2010 to 2014 in all the tabloids of late?  Interesting written question in the Dail on Tuesday this week, saw an infodump of raw data from PULSE regarding those.

Some interesting questions pop up. Why is there a fully automatic rifle listed, when only Gardai and the Defence Forces can own them? Was one stolen from the Gardai in the Eastern Dublin Metropolitan Region in 2011? Why are there 54 replicas listed as real firearms when they can’t shoot bullets? Why are there 266 rounds of ammunition listed as individual firearms in the numbers? Why were 18 telescopes listed as individual firearms? Why are there 29 gun safes, 62 imitation guns and 12 toy guns listed as firearms when under the Firearms Act, those three categories are not legally firearms even within the enormously wide definition of that term in Irish law?

And did anyone think to tell the media that those figures were a wee bit misleading? I don’t remember too many firearms licences being issued for grenades, for example, but there’s one in there. Was a grenade stolen from the Army in Tipperary in 2010?

I’ll be the first to admit that the number of what we think of “guns” that have been stolen is a cause for concern (though strangely, none of proposals the Gardai have made recently have addressed minimum security standards at all). But these figures, they’re… well, they raise some rather pointy questions about the quality of the data in PULSE, and it’s that data that the Gardai are basing their proposals on, and that raises questions over the proposals as well, obviously.  Actually, now that I think about it, those 266 rounds of ammunition – the second largest chunk in the pie – are also not legally firearms even under our hilariously wide definition of “firearm”…



No one can stop them.

They can’t stop themselves.

The garda report on the penalty points system has found six senior gardaí continued to cancel penalty points in breach of policy and outside their own areas despite directions from the commissioner that the practice was to cease.

RTÉ News has also learned the report identifies nine cases where senior officers cancelled points and seven more instances where points were cancelled on questionable grounds even after the Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan introduced new procedures last June.

Report shows continued breaches on penalty points (RTÉ)


[Top: Caroline Dunne in an interview broadcast on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night and, above, Garda whistleblower John Wilson’s 2011 complaint about the profiling of children on the Garda PULSE system]

Irish Examiner journalist, Michael Clifford; former Irish Independent journalist, Gemma O’Doherty; Fianna Fáil TD, Sean Fleming; and Pavee Point co-director, Martin Collins appeared on TV3’s Tonight With Vincent Browne last night.

They discussed the matter of Traveller children being placed on PULSE and being given criminal intelligence numbers – some allegedly as young as 16 days old.

It followed Ms O’Doherty’s story in The Sunday Times in which she told how the two children of Caroline Dunne, a Traveller who lives in Cork, were placed on the PULSE system after Ms Dunne went to a garda station to get passport forms signed in 2011.

Ms Dunne’s children, Francis and Mary, were aged two and one at the time. Ms Dunne first learned about her children being on PULSE when Ms O’Doherty told her at the weekend.

During last night’s show, Vincent played a video interview between Ms Dunne and Lisa-Marie Berry.

Caroline Dunne: “When I got told this, I’ll be honest with you, I couldn’t believe it. I was more in shock than anything else. The person, like, the person that informed me, she actually had to repeat three or four times to me, I did not know what she was on about. This kind of information on this thing about my kids, it just, I was shocked to be honest about it, I was. To think that the guards could do something like this, if you can’t trust the guards, who can you trust? And to put something like this, up on the PULSE system about a baby, my little girl at 13 months old? She was barely walking, barely talking, still in nappies and to put information on the PULSE system about my baby is just totally wrong, it’s a disgrace.”

Lisa-Marie Berry: “How does it make you feel, as a mother?”

Dunne: “It makes me extremely angry, really, really angry to think that someone was spying on my kids, holding information about my kids on the PULSE system. To think that could happen to kids, it’s just a disgrace at this day and age, the 21st century, it’s just not right, it’s not on. And they’re talking about Travellers, discrimination, like this is discrimination against Traveller kids. They’re not going to make it nowhere if this keeps on continuing, it has to stop, it has to be taken down. But can it be taken down?”

Berry: Can you think of any reason why the gardaí would keep such intelligence on your children?

Dunne: “They have no right to put something like that on a PULSE system, no right and that goes for every Traveller child that, every settled child that’s out there, they have no right to do that to them. Whatever anyone else surrounding them or their dad, or anything like that has done in the past, that doesn’t concern my kids, that has nothing got to do with, they’re only kids at the end of the day. Yes they are Traveller kids, whatever, but they’re discriminating them there to be honest about it. If someone say, out of Dublin 4 went into a local garda station to get their family’s passports signed would they be put on the PULSE system? That’s what I would like to know. Why my kids or why any other Traveller child? Why had they to be put on this?”

Berry: “What would you like to happen now?”

Dunne: “For an explanation, to why my two kids have been put on to this PULSE system and can they be taken off it? And I’m calling on a meeting to meet with the Minister for Justice, to meet in the Dáil on Thursday to give me an explanation why this has happened to two kids.”

Later host Vincent Browne read out a statement from the gardaí, saying:

“There is no restriction on the minimum age for recording a person’s details on PULSE. This is due to the fact that persons both adult and children, of all ages, may be subject to garda investigation – either as a victim, a witness, a potential suspect of crime or as an injured party as a result of an accident.”

He added:

“And when you just go through that, they’re saying that it’s legitimate to put the details of a child on PULSE if they are a victim of a crime, well in this instance they weren’t; a witness, well neither of them looked as though they would be witnesses to a crime; a potential suspect of a crime, how could they be potential suspects of a crime?; or as an injured party as a result of an accident, they weren’t that. So what was the reason for it? This is more of the carry-on that goes on.”


Browne: “The Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes said that he could not comment on this particular case as no complaint has been received in relation to the matter. As a consequence, he’s not in a position to assess whether any issues arise from the Data Protection…”

Martin Collins (Pavee Point): “Can I just clarify that. These rumours in relation to the PULSE system have been swirling around now for a number of months, at least three or four months. My organisation, not me personally but my colleagues at Pavee Point actually met GSOC [Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission] and the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office on this very issue. So it has been brought to their attention. We’re awaiting a response.”

Browne: “Was there a complaint made?”

Collins: “Yes.”

Browne: “Are you sure there was a complaint made?”

Collins: “Yes, well I understand, from speaking to my colleagues this evening, that yes, a complaint has been made. There was a discussion certainly with the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office and GSOC but in relation to the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office that was a discussion and then subsequently in, it was indicated to them that yes, an official complaint has been made.”

Browne: “And when you went to GSOC what happened?”

Collins: “Yes well they heard the case, our arguments, and we’re awaiting a response.”

Watch back in full here

Previously: “It Feels Like We’re Being Spied On”

Traveller Children And PULSE

Early Profiling

Fingers On The PULSE

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.”


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

[Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes at the Institute of International European Affairs’ Cybersecurity conference at the Manison House in Dublin last November]

Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes spoke to Richard Crowley on RTÉ News at One, following the publication of his office’s audit of data protection in An Garda Síochána from 2011 to October 2013.

Specifically, Mr Hawkes told how, during his investigation, he found incidences whereby members of Gardaí – not the whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and former Garda John Wilson – accessed the Garda profiles of certain ‘RTÉ celebrities’, passed on information to private investigators and also accessed information in the Department of Social Protection.

Richard Crowley: “This report has just been published, it’s rather long. We haven’t even seen the executive summary, so maybe you could do the job for us and tell us what are your main findings?”

Billy Hawkes: “Well the main findings are that An Gardaí are treating personal data as you would expect a professional police force to do so. They have responded to points, weaknesses we pointed out, particularly inappropriate access by members of the force to data and, even worse, disclosure of it, outside of the force. But it’s quite a comprehensive report, it goes through things like how they deal with CCTV, how they deal with suspects, the system of Garda vetting, how that works, so it’s essentially a comprehensive look at all aspects of how An Garda Síochána carry out their duties because, again, obviously personal data is the lifeblood of An Garda Síochána but it’s particularly important that how they handle it respects all of our rights in relation to the data that they hold, so that was a particular focus of it – that basically that we should be satisfied and everybody else should be satisfied that when they give information to An Garda Síochána, whether voluntarily or compulsory, that we should all be satisfied it would be guarded carefully. Only those who have needed to do so would have access to it and particularly won’t be disclosed outside the force.”

Crowley: “But how many members of the force were abusing the system?”

Hawkes: “Again, that’s, we discovered quite a number of incidences, because we did sample tests where people could not justify why they were accessing the records of certain people, including by the way, personalities within RTÉ, so basically there was a need for action there. We’re also, separately, in a separate investigation, we’re also dealing with under our own powers as data protection, we’re dealing with evidence of more active, as it were, disclosure of information from An Garda Síochána to people who have no right to receive it. But that’s a separate issue.

Crowley: “Ok, are you talking about the two whistleblowers? Those that we call the whistleblowers?”

Hawkes: “No I’m not, I’m talking about something entirely different about disclosure from within An Garda Síochána, not in relation to whistleblowers, it’s people who had basis at all for disclosing information to third parties. So..”

Crowley: “Who? What third parties?”

Hawkins: “No, it would be people like private investigators who try to get information from Garda systems.”

Crowley: “And who tried to, or who did?”

Hawkins: “Succeeded.”

Crowley: “On how many occasions?”

Hawkins: “Again, again, all we can do is based on a sample of what we’re dealing with, of complaints we’re dealing with. There have been such instances but the important point in this…”

Crowley: “But how many?”

Hawkins: “No, again, cause I mean, all I can deal with is the ones we know about.”

Crowley: “Ok, well, how many do you know about?”

Hawkins: “We know, I suppose all we know about would be a handful of those cases because we’re carrying out a detailed investigation into private investigators and their actions at present.”

Crowley: “But you know that, in all of those cases, the information went to specific private investigators and you know who those private investigators are..”

Hawkins: “Yeah at we’re..that particular investigation is in fact continuing. We have by no means reached the end of our investigation because it’s not only access to the Garda data it’s also access to data for example in the Department of Social Protection, so it’s more, it’s part of a broader sweep in terms of inappropriate access.”

Crowley:Can we go back to PULSE. Are guards giving information to the media?”

Hawkins: “Well we don’t…know they do but we’re not talking about that.”

Crowley: “No, I mean from PULSE now. Are they passing information from PULSE onto the media?”

Hawkins: “No, again, that was not the focus of our investigation.”

Crowley: “Well I know it wasn’t the focus but did you come across it?”

Hawkins:I suspect that there were incidences, and I’d be careful of what I’m saying, where that might have been happening. But, again, since I’m speaking to a journalist, I’m not going to elaborate.”

Crowley: “Now the question we’ve asked, a couple of minutes ago was how many members of An Garda Síochána have abused the system?”

Hawkins: “I don’t know that answer to that because all we could do is sample it because we did find enough for An Garda to acknowledge they had an issue here which they have addressed. They have taken disciplinary action against a number of members of the force and they have also issued clearer guidelines. They are now carrying out proactive audits which they were required to do under a code of practice which we approved for An Garda Síochána a few years back so basically we’re recording broad satisfaction with the actions they’re taking but we are going to follow up on an action plan which An Garda Síochána are putting in place to make sure that the recommendations we’ve made, to which they’re committed to, are actually carried out.”

Crowley: “But each time a guard signs on to the PULSE system and accesses specific information about a particular individual does that leave a footprint, do we know that he or she has been there?”

Hawkins: “Yes we do and that’s greatly to the credit of An Garda Síochána, they do have proper auditory rules, so you can know which member has accessed the particular record and…”

Crowley: “So then you should be able to tell me how many gardaí have abused the system surely?”

Hawkins: “No because again the people may have a, obviously the gardaí needs access to the records of people on a daily basis and it’s a question of, for example, if there’s an unusual pattern of access, if there’s no obvious reason of why a garda in one particular region is accessing data from a region other than his own. That’s where issues arise and what the gardaí have committed to is to carry out audits, which they are carrying out, to detect that sort of pattern. They have found cases where it has been happening and they’ve taken disciplinary action. So we want the message to go out, within the organisation, that that should not happen and there’s a high risk you’ll be caught if you actually are inappropriately accessing, or worse, disclosing information, outside An Garda Síochána.”

Crowley: “What were the reasons given for the members accessing information about these, let’s call them, minor celebrities and sports people and others. What was behind it?”

Hawkins: “In many cases, it was just curiosity, so there, if you like, there wasn’t anything sinister about it but nevertheless, whether you’re a celebrity or not, if you report something to An Garda Síochána, you have an expectation that it will be treated seriously, it will only be used for the purpose of whatever you’re reporting, whether it’s a burglary, attack or whatever and that it should not be accessed out of curiosity.”


Crowley: “Are you saying that you find no fault with [Sgt Maurice] McCabe and [former Garda John] Wilson?”

Hawkins: “Oh no, what we’re saying is and I really want to generalise it, because we did in fact specifically support the [Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan] Commissioner in relation to information being disclosed to the Public Accounts Committee. So, basically, our position, and my position as Commissioner, is that having focused heavily, not only in this report but also in our annual report last year on inappropriate access by gardaí to data held on the PULSE system, I had a duty to support the Commissioner when he took the position that once the whistleblowers had discharged, if you like, their moral duty to report malpractice within an gardaí, then there was not a basis for them to continue to access the PULSE system and even less so for disclosing confidential information about people to third parties.”

Listen back here

Read the Data Protection Commissioner report here


You may recall a post from last October in which we posted the letter, above, Garda John Wilson wrote to his senior management in October 2011.

Mr Wilson alleged 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 claimed it could happen if a Garda stopped a car driven by a Traveller, and if there were children present in the car, those children’s names would be placed on PULSE.

Mr Wilson said gardaí were encouraged to do this by senior gardaí.

At the time of posting last October, Mr Wilson had yet to receive a reply from Garda management.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter replied to written questions put to him on the matter by United Left Alliance TD, Clare Daly and Sinn Féin TD, Padraig MacLochlainn, on Tuesday.

Clare Daly: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if a PULSE file was created on a Traveller child when that child was 16 days old; and was this child ascribed a criminal intelligence number separate from a parent or guardian.

Padraig MacLochlainn: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he has taken to confirm whether Traveller children or adults are being assigned separate criminal intelligence PULSE numbers without having committed any criminal conduct; and the action he will take regarding same.

Padraig MacLochlainn: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has established with the Garda Commissioner the veracity of the allegations that 40 Traveller families were entered on the Garda PULSE system, including a baby of 16 days old; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter took the three questions together.

Alan Shatter: “The management of the PULSE system is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. While An Garda Síochána does not comment on individual cases, 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.”


Transcript from Kildarestreet.com

Previously: Early Profiling