PSNI ‘tapped phone’ of Aontú leader
PSNI ‘tapped phone’ of Aontú leader


Aontú leader Peadar Tóibin has said he believes that his phone calls to a journalist in the north of Ireland may have been secretly recorded by the PSNI police.

While questions over PSNI snooping on journalists, lawyers and others have recently been raised, it is believed Mr Tóibin is the first politician, north or south, to publicly indicate they too have been targeted.

Details of the incident emerged during questions in the Dublin parliament on Tuesday.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Tóibin told Taoiseach Simon Harris that he believes two conversations with a journalist were covertly recorded by the PSNI

In recent months the force has been embroiled in a spy scandal after it emerged that the force has been carrying out covert surveillance on journalists and lawyers it considered to be “trouble makers”.

It emerged last month that the PSNI made 823 applications for communications data for journalists and lawyers between January 2011 and March this year.

PSNI chief constable Jon Boutcher recently announced a “review” into their use of surveillance against journalists, lawyers and non-governmental organisations.

It has now been believed that the PSNI operation also includes political representatives in the 26 Counties.

During Tuesday’s Dail sitting Mr Tóibin revealed that he believes phone calls between him and a journalist in the north, who works for the Belfast-based Irish News, were recorded.

“On two occasions when I was talking to a journalist in the north of Ireland the phone calls dropped and immediately after the phone calls dropped a recording of my phone calls...played back to me, which made me believe there was a malfunction of the recording of those phone calls by somebody,” he said.

Addressing the Taoiseach, he asked that PSNI snooping be raised with the next British government.

“Is it good enough that the PSNI record any phone calls of journalists in the north of Ireland and is it good enough that they were potentially recording phone calls by a member of this Dáil here as well?” he said.

“After 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement is this not a threat to the functioning of a democracy in the north of Ireland?

“Will you raise this and ask the incoming Secretary of State for the north of Ireland to investigate this practice by the PSNI?”

In response Mr Harris said he has “no knowledge of the matter” adding that “obviously they are very serious matters”.

“What I am happy to do though if the deputy wishes to correspond with me on the matter I am happy to raise it,” he said.

In a response, the PSNI said that the review currently underway should “provide assurance” to Mr Tóibín that current practices are “lawful and proportionate.”

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