Monday, 10 February 2014


GSOC Ireland under High-Tech Surveillance

In any other democracy this would be a massive story. Someone is using tightly-controlled military-grade technology to spy on the Garda Ombudsman. It can only be another arm of the Gardai or PDF acting illegally, because use of such devices is supposed to be authorised by a judge and only for organised crime and anti-terrorism purposes; or agents of a hostile foreign state with helpers within Ireland. Expect the story to be quietly buried by the corrupt Dublin media prostitutes.

GSOC hired a security consultancy to investigate if its headquarters in Abbey Street, Dublin  and its internal communications system were bugged The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) was targeted as part of a sophisticated surveillance operation which used “government-level technology” to hack into its emails, wi-fi and phone systems.The espionage was uncovered last year after GSOC hired a British security consultancy to investigate whether its headquarters in Abbey Street, Dublin, and its internal communications system were bugged.

The consultants, among them former counter-surveillance specialists with Britain’s GCHQ spying agency, found a speaker phone on the upper floor of the GSOC building was bugged. The room was regularly used to hold case conferences on sensitive investigations. A test of the line confirmed the phone was being used to eavesdrop on meetings, according to sources. The investigation also found that those responsible for the surveillance had compromised GSOC’s wi-fi network in order to steal emails, data, confidential reports and possibly eavesdrop on mobile phone calls.

The British Sunday Times reported yesterday, that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) had to seek assistance from a British security consultancy without the knowledge of Irish Government minister Shatter and the government to investigate GSOC's suspicion that they were being spied on is remarkable. That it is also reported that their phones were bugged, emails hacked and wifi compromised is disturbing and will be of immense public concern.

The Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight said he will be contacting the GSOC to establish their position on what has taken place. Our committee were to have them before us soon to discuss their perspectives on the levels of cooperation from An Garda Síochána with their investigations and we will now need urgent answers on this very serious report too.”

Dealings between the gardai and GSOC have seldom been straightforward and there has been friction not least over the issue of access to criminal intelligence gathered by members of the force. There were clashes between the force and its watchdog over the level of co-operation provided by the gardai. Last year, Commissioner Martin Callinan rejected claims by the Ombudsman that the force was in need of a culture change and said he was satisfied that none of its informants was being run "off the books". Rank and file gardai have also expressed dissatisfaction with GSOC.
An editorial in the Garda Representative Association magazine, 'Garda Review' was unusually strident in its criticism. The association told the Ombudsman Commission last summer that it did not have the confidence of members at the coalface. "Trust is hard earned and easily lost and while the GSOC continues to fail to prosecute those who make vexatious and malicious complaints against members, this will not improve," the GRA editorial stated. GSOC was set up with the mission of providing an efficient, fair and independent oversight of policing in Ireland.
in 2005, GSOC was given powers to also investigate matters where no complaint has been made but where it appears that a garda may have committed an offence or behaved in a way that would justify disciplinary proceedings.The three commissioners are: former Police Commander with the London.Met, Simon O'Brien; former civil servant and former Director of Consumer Affairs, Carmel Foley; and former RTE journalist Kieran FitzGerald. They oversee a management team of four who deal with day-to-day operations at GSOC.

Watchdog accused of implying Garda complicity in ‘bugging’

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan seeks answers over Garda Ombudsman statement

Simon O’Brien, chairman of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, arrives for a meeting with Alan Shatter at the Department of Justice yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
Simon O’Brien, chairman of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, arrives for a meeting with Alan Shatter at the Department of Justice yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has challenged the Garda Ombudsman Commission’s account of suspected bugging incidents at its headquarters, and demanded clarification.
Mr Callinan last night accused GSOC of implying there was Garda complicity in the suspected bugging.
The commissioner’s intervention followed a statement from GSOC in which the Garda watchdog expressed regret at its failure to inform the Garda and the Department of Justice about the matter.
“I have read very carefully the contents of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s statement this evening and note in particular the assertion that there was no evidence of Garda misconduct,” said Mr Callinan.
“It is a cause of grave concern that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s statement contains a clear indication that An Garda Síochána was in some way suspected of complicity in this matter, despite GSOC’s overall finding that the existence of technical and electronic anomalies could not be conclusively explained.”

Basis for suspicion
He added that he was seeking clarification from GSOC on the nature and extent of the anomalies identified by a UK security consultancy; whether these anomalies amounted to a security breach; whether a criminal offence is suspected; and the basis for the suspicion of Garda misconduct.
Mr Callinan asked whether any matters required investigation by the Garda.
Senior officers at Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, last night said the suggestion by GSOC that the Garda force had been suspected of the bugging would have a “devastating” impact on their already troubled relationship.
“It’s difficult to see how the relationship is workable after this. It’s pretty incredible really,” said one source.
Others believed the position of GSOC chairman Simon O’Brien was untenable: “Mentioning the gardaí as a suspect for this was a big, big surprise.”
Earlier, GSOC expressed regret at its failure to inform the Department of Justice and the Garda about the suspected bugging of its headquarters. It followed a meeting between the GSOC chairman and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.
The commission said it had consulted security experts twice since the body started its work in 2007.
“A security sweep of GSOC’s offices was conducted on the evenings of September 23rd- 27th, 2013. This was conducted by a specialist UK security firm that had been recommended,” said the statement.

Cost of checks
The cost of the security checks was just under €18,000.
“The investigation was completed on December 17th, 2013. It confirmed the existence of three technical and electronic anomalies. These could not be conclusively explained and raised concerns among the investigation team in terms of the integrity of GSOC’s communications security.
“However, GSOC is satisfied that its databases were not compromised. Since the investigation concluded, we have been working to review and enhance our security systems in the light of what the investigation revealed. There was no evidence of Garda misconduct.”
It also said it did not report the matter to other parties because it “did not wish to point fingers unnecessarily and we did not believe that widespread reporting would be conducive to public confidence”. GSOC now regretted this decision, its statement added.
Mr Shatter will report to the Cabinet this morning and the issue may be raised afterwards in the Dáil
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