422. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she is aware of a surveillance programme within An Garda Síochána named Operation Mizen; if she sanctioned its formation; if she has received a report on its operation; the number of persons who are the subject of this surveillance; if public representatives at local authority or Oireachtas level are subject to this surveillance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34300/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am informed by the Garda authorities that Operation Mizen was established by An Garda Síochána as a National Co-ordination Office to provide appropriate policing responses to maintain public order and to ensure the safety of all involved in protests against water charges. This is entirely a Garda operational matter and, accordingly, there is no question of my authority being sought for its establishment.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that one avenue used by Gardaí in the pursuit of this objective is the use of open source information. This is information that is generally and publicly available on the internet and social media platforms. I am further informed that Operation Mizen does not engage in technical surveillance or lawful interception and no public representative or member of the public is subject to such surveillance by Operation Mizen.
The Deputy will wish to note that the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009 provides the legislative basis for covert surveillance activities. Authorisations under the 2009 Act are granted by a Judge of the District Court on application by a superior officer of An Garda Síochána or the Revenue Commissioners or the Defence Forces. As Minister for Justice and Equality I have no role in that process.
The 2009 Act makes provision for independent judicial oversight of its operation by a serving Judge of the High Court who is designated for this purpose. Mr. Justice Robert Eager is the Designated Judge under the 2009 Act. The Designated Judge reports at least annually to the Taoiseach on the operation of the legislation and these reports are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Act also provide for a complaints mechanism whereby an individual who believes he or she has been the subject of an authorisation under the relevant provisions of the Act may apply to the independent Complaints Referee for an investigation into the matter. The Complaints Referee is Judge John Hannan of the Circuit Court who may be contacted at the Office of the Complaints Referee, Áras Uí Dhálaigh, Inns Quay, Dublin 7.