Limerick solicitor hits out at ‘vitriolic attack’ by councillor over CCTV

Donal O'Regan

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Donal O'Regan

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donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

Limerick solicitor hits out at ‘vitriolic attack’ by councillor over CCTV

PROMINENT Newcastle West solicitor Rossa McMahon has responded to comments made about him at a meeting of the Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district.

Mr McMahon said he was surprised to read Cllr Noel Gleeson’s “vitriolic attack on me”.

A story on the meeting appeared in last week’s Leader on the council’s half a million euro state-of-the-art CCTV project.

Fourteen communities were picked for the high spec CCTV cameras. They have been rolled out to Abbeyfeale, Adare,  Askeaton, Caherconlish, Castleconnell, Cappamore, Croom,  Foynes, Kilmallock, Murroe, Newcastle West, Pallasgreen, Patrickswell and Rathkeale. None are operational.

Cllr Gerald Mitchell asked what impact GDPR will have on CCTV monitoring proposals. The reply read out at the meeting was the council was awaiting “legal advice”.

During the debate, Cllr Noel Gleeson said he was very “disappointed” that the new CCTV cameras weren’t working.

“A Newcastle West solicitor has created mayhem. What are his motives? He will be defending people who can’t be defended. He has a vested interest in this. I think it is disgusting,” said Cllr Gleeson. The Cappamore councillor was referring to Mr McMahon who has written to gardai and the Data Protection Commissioner about the CCTV cameras.

Mr McMahon said he was taken aback by the accusation that “I am blocking CCTV in Limerick so that I can profit from the crime that he imagines will flourish without the cameras rolling”.

“Cllr Gleeson's comments are wrong on many levels. He ignores that I live and work in Newcastle West and, as a citizen, I am entitled to ask the council questions about a scheme like this. 

“I do not know about Cappamore but in Newcastle West we have one of the biggest policing centres in the region and we are very well served by the many members of An Garda Síochána here.

"The council’s report to justify a CCTV scheme showed a drop in crime of over 22% in Newcastle West over the time period they surveyed so I do not understand what benefit expensive surveillance systems will bring to the town.

“Crime is being used as a smokescreen to introduce this ‘Smart CCTV’ system, which raises significant legal issues. This is not standard CCTV - the council envisages a system of constant surveillance and tracking which can monitor licence plates, faces, patterns and more. The acting garda commissioner has confirmed to me that the authorisation the council obtained for the scheme does not cover all the intended uses that have been publicised,” wrote Mr McMahon.

The real scandal, he said, is the council, on the eve of GDPR coming into effect, decided to spend over half a million euro installing a massive surveillance system “without appearing to have any evidence that it is necessary, that it will be effective or that it will even be legal”.