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Gardai 'have been tapping phones of innocent people'

Gardai 'have been tapping phones of innocent people'

Gardai have tapped the phones of innocent members of the public, according to a report.

Officers routinely bypassed strict protocols to listen in on private conversations for almost a decade, an Independent.ie investigation has found.

It has also been revealed that when the unorthodox activities of garda intelligence were brought to the attention of police authorities, they were ignored.

One decorated detective in the force who raised concerns has told how he felt undermined and was offered a transfer out of garda intelligence.

When he sued the authorities for his treatment the case was settled by the State - only in the past few weeks.

However, the State signed off on a series of secret pay-offs for gardai and officials in a bid to keep a lid on yet another major scandal.

Amongst the activities discovered are:

- An experienced detective in the intelligence section said he felt under pressure to tap phones without the necessary warrants

- Phone taps were put on the wrong people

- Innocent members of the public had their phones tapped when they were confused with criminals

- The phone taps picked up conversations involving politicians

The State ensured that the full extent of the phone tapping scandal was not made public after agreeing an out-of-court settlement with the detective, who repeatedly raised concerns about the legality of the covert surveillance.

It can also be revealed that the six-figure settlement was paid just days after the force was rocked by the Tusla sex abuse file scandal.

Niall O'Connor