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Questions raised over leaking of confidential Garda files

7 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Dáil leader, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin said grave concerns have been raised by what appears to have been the leaking of confidential Garda files to individuals outside the Department of Justice in relation to three individuals, including the head of the Centre for Public Inquiry, Frank Connolly, who Minister McDowell named in a Dáil reply last night.

Deputy Ó Caoláin also described as "an outrageous abuse of Dáil privilege" the allegations made by the Minister last night about the three men in a written reply to a Parliamentary Question from Deputy Finian McGrath.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "Michael McDowell's comments, made in the Dáil last night  through a written reply to a question, are nothing short of an outrageous abuse of Dáil privilege.  That he used a Dáil mechanism to put on record unsubstantiated allegations marks a  very sinister development in his ongoing campaign against the Centre for Public Inquiry.

"More serious though, and a matter which is of grave concern is the question of whether or not the Minister or his department was responsible for the leaking of confidential Garda files to persons outside his Department and who shouldn't have been in possession of or had access to these files or the information contained therein.

"People should be rightly concerned at the increasingly brazen and reckless behaviour of the Minister. This Minister has shown scant regard for due process in the past but this latest development, even for him, is a new low.

"No other Minister in government would be allowed to act with such scant regard for the law. It is time that Michael McDowell was reined in." ENDS

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