“It would be a question of the utmost public concern if an undercover officer were effectively permitted to operate without justification, authorisation or oversight in Ireland.”
The Garda Ombudsman has recommended disciplinary action be taken against one of five gardaí whose comments about two female Corrib gas protesters were recorded after the women were arrested.
The report into the incident at Aughoos, Erris, Co Mayo, in March of last year has exonerated three other gardaí.
A garda sergeant whom the report states talked about raping the women has since retired and is not subject to disciplinary proceedings.
The comments were recorded digitally on a non-removable hard drive housed inside a camcorder, which the protesters made public when the device was returned to them.
Three of the five gardaí were exonerated in the inquiry, two others were found to have made comments for which they should be disciplined.
One is a garda who described the Rossport Solidarity Camp as "that crusty camp" and inferred they may be carrying some type of disease.
The other is a sergeant who used the word rape, but told investigators he heard the word used at the scene while the women were being arrested.
He has now retired and is no longer subject to disciplinary procedures.
The report also states that when a solicitor for one of the women approached the Ombudsman and suggested that files on the camcorder relating to her studies be deleted, he was informed that any interference in an exhibit central to a criminal investigation was unacceptable.
GSOC was later notified that academic staff at Maynooth University had deleted files from the device and only then was the camcorder handed over.
The report states the potential evidential value of what had been deleted from the device was not known and attempts were made to retrieve all files including those that had been deleted.
The deleted files could not be retrieved.
One of the two women arrested by the gardaí has criticised the Ombudsman and the gardaí following the publication of today's report into the incident.
In a statement issued by the Shell to Sea campaign, Jerrie Ann Sullivan said possible minor discipline for any one garda was not an appropriate response.
She accused the Garda Ombudsman and the gardaí of undermining the people who made the recording public and of reacting aggressively after she brought this incident to light.
She states this was very troubling for her, her family and her academic supervisors.
In a statement this afternoon, NUI Maynooth said it "complied fully with its obligations in relation to this investigation".
Kieran Fitzgerald of the Garda Ombudsman Commission said that from early on, it was clear that three garda members in the jeep were not participants in the conversation in any major way.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Fitzgerald said the function of GSOC had ended when it gave the book of evidence over to the disciplinary process of garda management.