Tapping of phone calls undermines our justice system, says Chambers

Lisa Chambers, Fianna Fáil Local Election candidate, says current revelations that phone calls going through Garda stations may have been taped only serves to further undermine people's trust in our justice system, and she says, the inquiry into the tapes is going to cost the tax payer dearly.

"There has been so much controversy of late with the penalty points scandal, the possible bugging of GSOC, and now revelations that phone calls were being recorded at Garda stations across the country. These revelations are having a negative impact on the level of trust people have in our justice system. It is very unfair to our gardai working on the ground as their jobs are being undermined by the actions of a few in the hierarchy," says Chambers

"Unfortunately Castlebar Garda Station has been named as one of those stations affected and this could have some legal implications for cases dealt with here in Mayo where Castlebar Garda Station is concerned. Citizens have a constitutional right to a trial conducted in accordance with the law. Part of our rights include the right to consult with a solicitor in private and your correspondence with your solicitor is privileged, meaning it is just between the two of you. Often when a person is detained in a Garda station they will consult with a solicitor over the phone, just practicalities. It would not be a good thing if it were found that these calls were being recorded as it is a clear breach of the individual’s rights." says Chambers

She went on to say, "somewhere in the region of 1.7 million minutes of tape has to be reviewed nationally and it won't be until this review is complete that we will know the full impact of the tapes and what they contain. I don't envisage a huge number of cases being affected but the review will be time consuming and costly for the tax payer," she continued.

"Another possible effect is in relation to recent tribunals such as the Smithwick Tribunal, which reported last December. If discovery was sought from the State and they failed to provide telephone call recordings relating to any of the tribunal witnesses, this could be an issue, as the State would have had to swear an affidavit saying they handed everything over. This may have implications for the tribunal's findings. We won't know until the review of the tapes is complete.”

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