According to this morning’s Irish Times newspaper, Thurles Garda Station, here in Co Tipperary was one of twenty named Garda stations which were upgraded with digital logging / recording equipment, following a contract which was first agreed to go to tender in 2008.
It is understood that Senior Garda officials launched the tender to install this technology, same which now leads to the contentious debate being currently raised regarding the recording and storage of digital data at named Garda Stations throughout Ireland.
Originally the specifications sought a new, quote “digital logging recording system” that would be compatible with the older analog and digital communications systems then in use throughout the Garda force and stipulated that this new infrastructure must record communications; including 999 calls among others, while also ensuring the storage of same to facilitate “instant playback.”
This 2008 tender also stipulated that any company which won this contract must supply and install all software and hardware for any accepted system and also fully train Garda personnel in the use of same. The contract again stipulated that winners of the contract should also provide computers and any necessary accessories, latter capable of backing up archive material, thus allowing for the playback and the copying where deemed necessary of certain identified recordings.
While a time frame for the archiving of such data was not stipulated, other recording technology for Garda call centres have in the past remained archived for some 6½ years before being for the most part destroyed.
It has just been announced this morning that Garda Commissioner Mr Martin Callinan has resigned his post in the wake of the recent ‘Garda Whistleblower’ controversy.
It is understood the Commissioner informed the Minister for Justice, Mr Alan Shatter of his decision taken, this morning.
The Commissioner, who was to remain in his present position for at least another 14 months stated that he had taken the decision for “family reasons”.
Mr Callinan has been at the centre of controversy in recent weeks after he stated “Frankly, I find it quite disgusting,” latter in reference to the activities of whistle-blowers Garda Mr John Wilson and Garda Sergeant Mr Maurice McCabe.
Last week, Minister for Transport Mr Leo Varadkar called on Mr Martin Callinan to remove these remarks from the record, latter which he had made at a recent Public Accounts Committee hearing, causing enormous friction within present coalition Government circles.
The power to terminate motorists penalty points in the future may possibly be taken out of the hands of senior Garda officers and centralised here at the Garda Fixed Charge processing office in Thurles, Co Tipperary.
According to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, a much stricter system is to be set up by the Garda Inspectorate, latter who were established eight years ago to review Garda procedures and recommend and oversee policing reform.
Under this new system Garda officers, with the rank of Superintendent and higher, would no longer have discretion to cancel points in cases where legitimate reasons for infringements had been made known or where motorists complained of certain errors.
Future approaches on the points system would be sent to the Thurles Co Tipperary office and would be logged and regularly audited, especially with regard to all reasons for any future cancellation decisions that might be taken.
New legislation will now be required to provide for any future such reforms, but the old Latin question still remains; “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? which roughly translated from Latin to English means; “Who will guard the guards themselves?”
Gardaí have arrested twelve people as part of their investigations targeting a specific organised crime gang involved in burglaries in the South East of Ireland. These arrests follow organised raids on dozens of houses and flats across several counties today, including Co Tipperary.
Thearrests are understood to have taken place as a result of “Operation Munster,” latter set up to target organised criminals suspected of carrying out burglaries in Ireland’s south east region.
In all, Gardaí raided over 40 properties across Co Tipperary and the neighbouring counties of Kilkennyand Waterford. Gardaí were backed up by armed members of the Regional Support Unit and Customs officers and seized property stolen which included jewellery, cash, electronic equipment and other items of value.
Also as part of the lead up to today’s operation a number of bank accounts, held by known gang members involved in crime, have been now frozen. It is also understood that Gardaí in recent days have recovered eight shotguns possibly stolen in the Clonmel area of Tipperary.
Of the 12 persons arrested (nine men and three women), two have been released without charge and two have been arrested on warrants and transferred to prison, while the remaining eight are currently being detained and questioned at various Garda stations under section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act.
A Tipperary dairy farmer, who stands accused of assault, may face even more serious charges, according to a Gardaí Sergeant attending Tipperary District Court.
Mr Pat Quirke with an address at Breanshamore has been charged with assault causing harm to Mrs Mary Lowry, a widowed mother of three and the former partner of Mr Bobby Ryan, whose remains were located in a disused slurry tank last year.
The 44 year old is also accused of burglary and the handling of stolen goods at Fawnagown, on December 3rd, 2012.
As stated, the alleged victim of this accused assault was the former partner of Mr Bobby Ryan, latter a father of two, who had been missing since June 3rd, 2011, having left his home shortly after 6:00am to go to work at Killough Quarry, close to Thurles.
Mr Bobbie Ryan was subsequently located by the now accused, who alerted Gardaí, following his discovery of human remains at Fawnagowen in April of last year. The accused had been leasing farmland from Mrs Lowry, whose husband Martin had died previously in 2007.
The hearing has now been adjourned until next May, while Gardaí await the directions of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the matter.