The Sunday Times on March 20th featured an article by journalist Gemma O Doherty about the recording of Traveller children on the Garda PULSE database. The article highlighted the story of Traveller woman Caroline Dunne who reported to a Garda station to have passport forms signed in respect of her one and two year old children. Following this event, Ms Dunne received information that her children’s details had been consigned to the PULSE database.
There have been rumours surrounding these types of recordings for many weeks but this article is the first one featuring a confirmed report. Several TDs had raised the issue in Dáil Éireann over the past few weeks. Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter TD had responded to several written questions, transcripts of which are below:
(These transcripts come care of www.kildarestreet.com.)
Clare Daly: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if a PULSE file was created on a Traveller child when that child was 16 days old; and was this child ascribed a criminal intelligence number separate from a parent or guardian.
Padraig MacLochlainn: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he has taken to confirm whether Traveller children or adults are being assigned separate criminal intelligence PULSE numbers without having committed any criminal conduct; and the action he will take regarding same.
Padraig MacLochlainn: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has established with the Garda Commissioner the veracity of the allegations that 40 Traveller families were entered on the Garda PULSE system, including a baby of 16 days old; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter took the three questions together.
Alan Shatter: “The management of the PULSE system is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. While An Garda Síochána does not comment on individual cases, I am informed by the Commissioner that PULSE does not solely capture information on offenders, but is also used to store information on Garda interactions with individuals, whether adults or children, such as victims of crime, persons injured in road traffic accidents and child welfare incidents.
All persons are subject to the same PULSE recording policy and procedures.
I have also been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda Síochána does not engage in ethnic profiling, and specifically that it does not engage in data gathering or data mining based upon discriminatory profiling in respect of race, colour, language, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin, ethnicity or membership of the Traveller community.”
Today, March 27th, news outlets are reporting that Minister Shatter states there is no racial profiling in An Garda Síochána.
Pavee Point’s Co Director Martin Collins appeared on the Vincent Browne show in relation to these and other whistleblower issues immediately before the resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. On the programme, Martin spoke about the reality of ethnic profiling and called for the immediate removal of Traveller children recorded for no purpose on the PULSE database.