Fennelly Commission will not widen its remit to include Mc Brearty phone taping concerns

Cllr Frank McBrearty
Cllr Frank McBrearty

The Fennelly Commission has ruled out widening its probe to include allegations that gardaí conducted electronic surveillance on Frank McBrearty Jnr and his legal team.

Lawyers for Mr McBrearty, who received a €1.5m settlement from the State after being wrongly considered a murder suspect, made the allegations in a letter to the commission.

The Irish Independent is reporting this morning that Mr Justice Niall Fennelly has asked Frank
McBrearty Junior, an independent member of Donegal County Council, to make a statement to the inquiry which is investigating revelations that non-999 phone calls were routinely recorded in certain garda stations over a 30-year period.

However, the paper says the judge has ruled out seeking to widen his terms of reference to include many of the Donegal county councillor's allegations. He said it would not be feasible and would greatly enlarge the task of the commission, which has been ongoing for two years.

Although the Morris Tribunal into garda corruption in Donegal was previously informed of the alleged recording of phone calls between prisoners and their solicitors, it did not inquire into the claims.

In their letter to the Fennelly Commission, Mr Mc Brearty's lawyers said he was concerned that phone calls between himself and his legal team may have been intercepted while he was in custody at Letterkenny Garda Station in 1996. He was also concerned that face-to-face conversations may have been recorded.