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Judge Cooke’s GSOC report is “An exercise in smoke and mirrors” says ICCL

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Tuesday June 10, 2014 23:37author by iccl - Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)author email walter.jayawardene at iccl dot ieauthor phone 353 1 799 4503 Report this post to the editors

Jun 10 2014 - ICCL Press Release, for immediate release

Ireland’s human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has described the 65-page Cooke report into the possible bugging of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), released by the Government late this evening (10 June 2014), as “an exercise in smoke and mirrors”.

ICCL Press Release, for immediate release

22:00, Tuesday 10 June 2014

Ireland’s human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has described the 65-page Cooke report into the possible bugging of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), released by the Government late this evening (10 June 2014), as “an exercise in smoke and mirrors”.

Speaking shortly after the release of the report and an appearance by Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald TD on RTÉ’s Primetime, ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:

Constrained by the terms of reference accorded to him by Government, Judge Cooke has found precisely what it seems to have been preordained that he would find: that it is impossible to rule out categorically all possibility of covert surveillance.”

“What is striking, however, is that the Judge appears to have made absolutely no independent investigative attempt to establish objectively whether or not surveillance of GSOC by An Garda Síochána had been sought or authorised. It seems that not a single member of An Garda Síochána or the Defence Forces was interviewed; no examination of the records kept of the use of surveillance equipment by police or military intelligence services took place, nor were the “oversight” activities of the “designated judges” under the relevant legislation subject to any form of review”, Mr Kelly continued.

“The Judge’s exclusive focus on whether or not GSOC’s levels of suspicion regarding surveillance were well-founded entirely side-steps the core question of whether or not any agency of the state sought or obtained permission to engage in surveillance of our independent police complaints authority. A report that merely revisits a range of more or less plausible explanations for communications anomalies, without even attempting to compare them with information readily available to the police and military intelligence services, can only be qualified as an exercise in smoke and mirrors”, Mr Kelly concluded.


Walter Jayawardene
Communications Manager
Irish Council for Civil Liberties


The redacted text of Judge Cooke’s review is available at this link:

author by Tpublication date Thu Jun 12, 2014 18:13Report this post to the editors

The WSM has produced quite a length response to the report.

They write:

Wednesday morning Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice and Equality and replacement for Alan Shatter after he was forced to resign, is lauding the report as an exoneration of the Gardaí. The 64-page report claims that “evidence does not support the proposition that actual surveillance…took place and much less that it was carried out by members of the Garda Síochána.” Yet there are a number of revelations in the report that raise serious questions as to its ability to speak to the bugging issue in a definitive manner.

Firstly, the supposed evidence considered in the report is questionable if not vague. BH Consulting are named as the sole security firm offering “technical advice” to Cooke. The consultancy firm was brought on board, it would appear, after an unsolicited letter from the company director Brian Honan, detailing his experience in technological surveillance, was delivered to Cooke by the Taoiseach. It is not clear the extent of Honan's contribution, or whether his services were paid for by the state or acquired on a voluntary basis.

Furthermore, BH Consulting only appears to have expertise in “informations and communications security.” So while they have knowledge of internet security it is certainly not obvious whether they have any expertise in counter-surveillance, which is what is needed to answer the question of whether GSOC was being bugged by An Garda Síochána.


The Cooke report offers no clear evidence that the Gardaí are not implicated in the surveillance of GSOC, and much like the Rits report initiated by Shatter, is being used as a finger-pointing exercise directed at GSOC who are clearly the only body under investigation. The findings of the Cooke report means business as usual: a lack of transparency by the state and its judicial arm. Thus any calls for accountability in policing are shrouded in the scrapping between GSOC, the Gardaí and the Justice Department over nothing more than window-dressing.

See link below for the full text.

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