AS the controversy surrounding the garda telephone recordings plays out nationally, Clare’s chief garda superintendent said he is “110% satisfied” no calls” were recorded between solicitors and their clients in Clare garda stations.
Speaking to The Clare Champion, Chief Supt John Kerin said Ennis Garda Station is the only station that was equipped with phone recording facilities, up to their decommissioning late last year. He said while 999 calls continue to be recorded, the only phones which had recording capabilities prior to November 2013 were located in the first floor communications office at Ennis.
“The public or prisoners don’t make calls from the communications office. Any calls made by a prisoner to a solicitor would have been made to one of the downstairs offices and none of those had recording facilities. I’m 110% satisfied that no calls were ever recorded between solicitors and people who were detained,” he said.
He said while anyone who dialed into or out of the communications office phoneline were recorded, if they were transferred to another department, or phone within the station, the recording would have ceased. The phones subject to recording were clearly marked in the communications office, he added.
“My technical people have been carrying out examinations and reports to me over the last few days and I’m satisfied from what they tell me that, apart from the communications room in Ennis, no other garda phones were involved in recording.
“The phones with the recording were always marked. Everyone that ever worked in the communications rooms knew that those calls were recorded. From my perspective it was a quality control issue. From time to time people would have phoned to say they made a call one day and no guard ever called them back. Or there might have been an issue with the caller and the receiver. I would have got my technician to go back check the tapes see what was the context of the calls.
They were never utilised for anything other than that. From time to time prosecutions would arise from nuisance calls made on the 999 line but that is a separate issue. That recording is still going on,” he said.
He stressed any concerns people have about the confidentiality of their calls is misplaced, as although calls were recorded “the content of those calls were never outlined to any third party”.
Chief Supt Kerin said he is aware that a commission of enquiry has been set up but he has received no confirmation that Clare is to be subjected to the enquiry as of yet.
“I’m conscious that my division and my station in Ennis may be subject to this enquiry and may be subject to scrutiny by outside independent people and I don’t have an objection to that. I will certainly facilitate any such investigation or enquiry that will be going on,” he said.
After writing to the Clare Law Association about the matter, Chief Supt Kerin said he is happy to discuss any concerns local solicitors have with regards to the issue.
Newly appointed president of Clare Law Association, William Cahir, said he is happy with the confirmation given that people under arrest who contacted their solicitors on telephones located in ground floor offices at Ennis Garda Station were not recorded.