Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (339, 340)

Niall Collins

Question:

339. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of times he has authorised phone tapping since he was authorised to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15412/14]

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Niall Collins

Question:

340. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has been requested to authorise phone tapping in any Garda stations in the State; if he had any knowledge of Garda phone recordings in Garda stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15413/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 339 and 340 together.

The Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages (Regulation) Act, 1993 provides for the primary legislative basis in Ireland for the interception of postal packets and telecommunications messages. By reason of the fact that the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Justice and Equality have a role under the 1993 Act in recommending and authorising respectively interceptions applications made by the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Justice and Equality's function in this regard was transferred to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources pursuant to the provisions of the Authorisation of Certain Interceptions (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order 2012. The Minister's role is confined to requests for an authorisation from the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces only.

It has not been the practice for security reasons to provide details of authorisations sought. I should emphasise that the Act is subject to independent judicial oversight by a designated Judge of the High Court and a complaints mechanism whereby any individual who believes they have been the victim of improper use of the legislation may have their complaint investigated by a Complaints Referee. The Designated Judge must submit a report on the operation of the Act to the Taoiseach on an annual basis and this Report is laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.