Government has major questions to answer on Garda phone scandal – Adams

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has listed a series of major questions the Government needs to answer in relation to the latest Garda phone bugging scandal.

He also repeated Sinn Féin’s position that the “Minister for Justice is in no position to manage the current controversies and pending reports or the radical reform of policing that is required and that he must go.”

Speaking in Dundalk at the launch of Sinn Féin’s candidates for Louth in the forthcoming local elections and that of Midlands North West EU candidate Matt Carthy, Gerry Adams said:

“This Government may feel it has got ‘off the hook’ in relation to the various scandals involving the Minister for Justice following his very belated apology to the Garda whistle blowers.

“But it is far from ‘off the hook’ because the latest revelations open up a series of major questions that this government, particularly Minister Shatter, urgently need to provide answers to.

“They include the following:
•“In the Dáil on May 23rd, 2001, as an opposition TD Alan Shatter asked then Minister for Justice, John O’ Donoghue about allegations that Gardaí in Donegal were bugging conversations between solicitors and clients. Did Minister Shatter establish with the Garda Commissioner, upon taking office, if this practice was true and if it had ceased?
•“Why did the Attorney General go straight to the Taoiseach with the revelations about recordings of phones in Garda Stations without first briefing Minister Shatter?
•“Does Minister Shatter think it was right the Attorney General withheld this information from him despite presumably being aware of the seriousness of the issue?
•“Has Minister Shatter spoken with the Attorney General since Monday on the revelations that were brought to Cabinet on Tuesday and can he provide information on the possible impact the practice of recording phone calls in Garda Stations will have on past and pending court cases?
•“Why did the Attorney General not inform the Department of Justice and Minister Shatter that a working group was being established by the Commissioner to investigate recordings?
•“Was any representative from the Department of Justice appointed to the working group and if not will the Minister explain why this is the case?
•“Did the Attorney General, when made aware of the issue, not seek immediate clarification on the legality of the tapes being made, their content and the possible impact on due process?

“Sinn Féin wants to see real and far-reaching reform of the Gardai, similar to the changes that we helped bring to policing in the North

“There is widespread public support for the Gardaí. It has unique, deep-rooted connections into local communities; connections which the government is actively dismantling through its policy of closing Garda stations.

“But there is a culture at the top of bad administration, lack of accountability and oversight mechanisms and transparency. This culture, evident in other institutions of the state betrays the sacrifice and integrity of rank and file Gardaí.

“No police service, no senior police officer and no Garda Commissioner should be solely accountable to a politician no matter who that is.

“The Garda Commissioner should be fully accountable to an independent Garda Authority.

“Citizens deserve a modern 21st century, accountable policing service. The work of building such a service cannot happen with the current Justice Minister at the helm. He should now step aside.”

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