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Undercover policing: secret Garda report on Mark Kennedy's activities in Ireland: Information Commissioner's decision
19.4.17
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On 13 April 2017 the Irish Office of the Information Commissioner published a decision ordering the Department of Justice and Equality to release a 2011 report by An Garda Síochána (Ireland's police force) on the activities of exposed undercover police officer Mark Kennedy. A subsequent article in The Times, based on the report, said that it shows "the gardaí defended having a relationship with international police forces that allowed spies to work here and defended keeping such arrangements a secret from the government."

The decision: Office of the Information Commissioner: Ms X and The Department of Justice and Equality (FOI Act 2014) (pdf):

"As indicated above, and as stated by the Commissioner in Case 120291 (Mr. X and The Department of Justice and Equality), available at www.oic.ie, the FOI Act does not exempt Garda reports to the Department as a class. If the record at issue in this case truly contained confidential details about arrangements made for intelligence-gathering co-operation with other police services or other information about such "sensitive operational matters", I would find merit to the Department's claims for exemption under section 32(1)(a)(i) and (iii), provided the measures concerned were shown to be lawful. However, having regard to the contents of the report and the Minister's own statements before the Dáil, I find no basis for concluding that the Department's expectation of harm is reasonable. I am therefore not satisfied that section 32(1)(a)(i) or (iii) applies."

The decision is also available on the website of the Office of the Information Commissioner (link).

See: Ministers kept in the dark over British spy (The Times, link):

"The report on Mark Kennedy... reveals that the gardaí defended having a relationship with international police forces that allowed spies to work here and defended keeping such arrangements a secret from the government.

(...)

The Irish government has not planned an inquiry into Mr Kennedy’s practices here.

Gardaí knew that Mr Kennedy was in Ireland “on a number of occasions” under his alias between 2004 and 2006.

(...)

“I am aware of suggestions in the media that Mr Kennedy was here with the consent of An Garda Síochána and that there was a relationship between him and the gardaí,” Mr Callinan wrote in the report on March 23, 2011. He did not deny that Mr Kennedy had been operating with the consent of the force but went on to tell ministers that it might be “helpful” to explain the background of using undercover agents from other jurisdictions.

“The use of such agents/police officers from other jurisdictions is a recognised and necessary tactic in the special circumstances where external activists with a track record of violence and whose identities are unknown to local police seek to shape and control violent protest actions,” Mr Calllinan wrote.

He claimed that the right of gardaí to enter into such arrangements was “vital” for national security interests and refused to tell the government if the national police force had a confidential arrangement with the Metropolitan Police allowing undercover British officers to work here."

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