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EU Court ruling highlights Britain’s spying agenda – Ó Snodaigh

2 July, 2008 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD


Responding the ruling at the European Court of Human Rights against the British State for invasion of privacy both here and in Britain Sinn Féin Human Rights Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD called for an apology from the British government and for a legally enforceable confirmation that the blanket interception of communications between the citizens of Ireland and Britain is at an end.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Today's ruling shows what many of us have known for a long time - that Britain has been invading the privacy of and spying on Irish Citizens for many years in the name of security.

"The British Ministry of Defence's broad power to intercept and store en masse any telephone, fax, email and data communications between Britain and Ireland has been found by the European Court of Human Rights to amount to a breach of a fundamental human right. It also undoubtedly had political and economic implications.

"The time period concerned includes the run up to the Good Friday Agreement when Irish government Ministers' sensitive communications would have been vulnerable to interception. The British power of interception was, according to the European Court of Human Rights ruling, 'virtually unlimited' and they may also have intercepted commercially sensitive data putting them in a position to undermine the economy of our small state.

"Brian Cowen must raise this issue with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the earliest opportunity. He must demand an apology from the British Government and a legally enforceable confirmation that the blanket interception of communications between the citizens of Ireland and Britain is at an end.

"Today's ruling also has important implications for Irish law. Current blanket data retention laws and the absence of any legislation or statutory guidelines governing Garda surveillance, either in person or by audio/visual electronic devices or recorders, means that invasions of privacy in this state will not pass the legal test established by this ruling. There is an urgent need for new human rights-compliant legislation." ENDS

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