[Sinn Fein]

15th May 2003

McDowell telephone bugging response contrary to public interest

Sinn Fein TD for Louth Arthur Morgan TD has described the response from the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell to his question asking if TDs or Senators phones are being bugged as `unacceptable' and `absolutely contrary to the public interest'.

Deputy Morgan said: ``The answer I received from the Minister for Justice today is both unacceptable and contradictory. It would seem more worthy of some British MoD wordsmith. According to the response it is the Ministers view that it would not be in the public interest to reveal whether or not the telephonelines of members of the Oireachtas were being bugged. This crazy line ofthinking runs absolutely contrary to the public interest. Of course it is inthe publics interest to know if their private telephone conversations with theirpublic representatives are being listened to or not.

``What we are dealing with here is often very private and personal matters. It is not good enough for Michael McDowell to hide behind veil of semi-legalistic mumbo jumbo to disguise what appears to be a betrayal of people's fundamental rights.

``We need clarity on this issue- either the phones of members of this House are being bugged or not. And if they are to what ends is it being done. It's very simple and in no way runs contrary to the public interest.

``After all the revelations of the past week and the exposure of ongoing operations from Britain's dirty tricks department I think the Minister must immediately assure the Irish public that he and his Government aren't up to the same sort of tricks.''

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