Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Telephone Tapping.


asked the Minister for Justice if he will set up an all-party committee to examine the procedure by which telephone-tapping is carried out in this country, and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The answer to the question is no. I consider that, having regard to all the circumstances, the present procedure is appropriate and adequate.

Is the Minister aware that it is common practice in other EEC countries to have such committees?

I am aware of the publicity given to this subject in other countries and of decisions made by other governments, and one government in particular, in this area.

If the Minister will not consider setting up an all-party committee, will he consider setting up a judicial committee?

I can tell the Deputy that, having regard to all the circumstances, I consider the present procedure to be appropriate and adequate.

Is the Minister quite happy that there have not been any abuses in this area.

I am quite happy that there have not been any abuses whatever.

Or likely to be?

I am happy that there are not likely to be any abuses in this area.

Does the Minister not agree that in the public interest it would be helpful to have some kind of all-party approach so that all of us could be assured that the basic powers involved were not open to abuse?

That appears to be the original question.

Does the Minister accept that the present situation, for example, would allow him to issue a warrant in respect of tapping the phone of a Cabinet colleague who would not be aware of it? Does he consider that to be a healthy procedure?

I am sure the Deputy understands that it is on the written request of the Garda Commissioner that the Minister for Justice issues a warrant to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs to effect a telephone tapping.

Does the Minister accept that perhaps a new way could be found to protect the public interest? I am saying this without attaching any innuendo to the question. Is it not a fact that ultimately the Minister is responsible to the public? He takes advice from the people who request the warrant but the buck stops with him.

That is part of my responsibility and I can assure the House I am very conscious of that fact. I am quite satisfied that the present procedure, the same procedure put into operation and operated by my predecessors, is perfectly adequate and appropriate.

Is the Minister telling the House that he has guaranteed control over the tapping of telephones? Is he telling the House that the control he has in this matter and the procedure he has mentioned are adequate to prevent the tapping of telephones?

Has the Minister some secret system that other countries fighting this problem have not got? Will the Minister not acknowledge that this is a worldwide threat?

I am quite satisfied about this matter.

Does the Minister recall the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in considering the case of German Federal law? Does he appreciate that there is a strong likelihood that the present situation obtaining here is in breach of that court ruling?

In answer to the question put by Deputy Deasy, I can assure the House, having considered all the circumstances, that the present procedure is appropriate and adequate.

Is it legal?

I have answered the question.

The Minister has not answered my question.