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GSOC: If it wasn’t An Garda Siochana who was responsible, who was? And was it criminal?

Tue 11 February 2014, 4:46pm

So, in the south there’s a big row. [Another one? - Ed] Yes. This time it is over the alleged infiltration of the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) office’s wifi system. Reports are thin on what actually happened, all the GSOC says on the matter is that there were ‘three technical and electronic anomalies’ when a check was run by a English tech specialist firm last September.

There are suspicions that someone was trying to hack into the wifi system, but when the investigation concluded in December, it was decided that the anomalies “could not be conclusively explained and raised concerns among the investigation team in terms of the integrity of GSOC’s communications security”.

All kinds of interesting rows have broken out since. But the most intriguing question is: who was it who tried to break into the Police Ombudsman’s wifi system?

In terms of the governance structures in place, it looks like they had two options. One, tell the cops and ask them to investigate. They didn’t, apparently because they were worried about the possible involvement in the case. So then option two arises, which would have been to take it to the minister.

They didn’t do that either. None of this reeks of a surfeit of trust between the GSOC and either arm of the state. But with all the speculation over who was obliged to say what to whom, it’s worth coming back to that questions again:

Who was it who tried to break into the Police Ombudsman’s wifi system?

The Gardai for their part posited four questions in response:

1) The nature and extent of the anomalies identified by the UK security consultancy?
2) Do these anomalies amount to a security breach and is a criminal offence suspected?
3) The basis for the suspicion of Garda misconduct?
4) Whether any matters identified now require investigation by An Garda Síochána?

So if it happened, and it was criminal but not the cops, then who exactly was it?

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Comments (17)

  1. sherdy (profile) says:

    So an arm of the Irish state finds that some (presumably outside) agency infiltrated the Garda’s wifi system – and they bring in a British security company to investigate!
    How could any British security group be considered an honest broker when it comes to a spying matter? Are they not aware of actions by Brits over the years, with GCHQ passing over information to the Americans, among others?
    And did anyone vet the bona fides of this security company to be sure that any work they did on the Irish system would not include more sophisticated bugging work?
    It certainly would not inspire confidence for the future.

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  2. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    ROTFLMAO.

    I wondered how long before it was blamed on “Brit Spooks”, less than half an hour and the first comment. Get a life guys, youse are up there with David Ike.

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  3. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    There’s only one Drumlin…

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  4. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    Allow me to join you DR in the laughter.

    For information it was not the “Garda’s wifi system”. The system in question belonged to the Garda Ombudsman Commission.

    A worrying aspect of this incident is the GSOC’s apparent reticence to bring the matter to the attention of the police. It suggests a rather unhealthy relationship between the GSOC and AGS.

    At one time PONI alienated the police in NI with a ludicrously suspicious approach, and some would say a biased one at that.

    Allowing such a poisonous relationship to form makes the work of the Ombudsman’s office more difficult. The organisations shouldn’t be buddy-buddy but allowing negativity to fester will not help the Ombudsman to effectively deliver on investigations of alleged Garda malpractice.

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  5. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Sherdy,

    If I had any hand, act or part in you getting it so badly wrong, #MyBad! Best start from what you know rather than what doublethink you know! :-)

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  6. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Sherdy

    I am sure that the brits have a deep interest in Garda actions in fixing speeding tickets for Ministers and what Garden is illicitly shagging whoever.

    However when you awake from the immediate sectarian lunge you might think about some tabloid newspapers for example or the IRA (they haven’t gone away you know) who once bugged Dail Eireann

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  7. megatron (profile) says:

    Given the information at hand and an examination of incentives and motives for all sides, it seems overwhelmingly likely that GSOC was bugged and the Gardai (officially or unofficially) were responsible.

    The rest is spin (skilfully done it must be said)

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  8. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    So whatever the evidence, the Guards did it?

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  9. megatron (profile) says:

    PS it is interesting that Mick’s title implies acceptance of the position that Gardai were not involved.

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  10. megatron (profile) says:

    Obviously not Mick which is why I said overwhelmingly likely rather than certain.

    Simply put the Guards had a motive that others did not have. According to respectable journalist who broke story only a state agency had the capability to do this.

    So it’s either the Brits, the Americans or the Gardai. I like a conspiracy as much as the next guy but obvious answer tends to be right most of the time.

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  11. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Who are these others of whom you speak so authoritatively?

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  12. megatron (profile) says:

    In that sentence others is meant to be any humanoid life form on planet earth (or group of same) who is not a member of the Gardaí with the ability to carry out the surveillance.

    We are all dealing with unknown here Mick so apologies if I was coming across as speaking authoritatively. I would put the probabilities as follows:

    Probabiltity Bugging took place: 90%
    Probability Gardaí were culpable: 80%

    What say you?

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  13. IRA well versed in surveillance. Dare say republican groups well capable. While we’re on outside possibilities, there’s one. Pick up a bit of tattle, bit of scandal, be ready or even instigate a bit of a news story, take a lead, embarrass mainstream political parties. After all, some did it (maybe still do it) in the North.

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  14. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Morph, it needs some form of inquiry. Something very wrong here.

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  15. sean treacy (profile) says:

    The fact that it was discovered probably points to the involvement of that southern phenomenon known as “the thick Guard “

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  16. IrelandNorth (profile) says:

    The response from Án Gárda Síochána na h’Éireann (ÁGSÉ) to the Ombudsman’s Office since the latter establishment has been ‘guarded’ from the outset. The question being, can the guards guard the guards any better than the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC)/Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) could have constabularised or ploliced themselves. The fact that Engliish accented Simon O’Brien of G-SOC went outside the jurisdiction to GB for its security sweep infers lack of trust in the ÁGSÉ. And who exactly has access to the unredacted edition of their consultants report. And why? The more centralised a police force the more it runs the risk of getting too big for its bureaucratic boots. The county constabularies in both England and Wales, (and to a lesser extent in Scotland), is safer for democracy. ÁGSÉ should be quartered into provincial police forces to reciprocate Patton’s Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) evolution into Police Service of N Ireland (PSNI). And with an increased proportion of reserves.

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  17. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    For good or ill the trend in policing is to centralise. The regional police forces in Scotland ceased to be in 2013 and are now one organisation – Police Scotland.

    If the question is quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Why not then ask who guards those guarding the guards? (Perhaps that’s the role of the spooks as the paranoid here seem to suggest :) )

    Effective oversight of the police is achievable. It has little to do with the size of the force in question. However mutual suspicion between the cops and their oversight organisation will kill the possibility of getting a positive outcome.

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