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 a Traveller woman who reported to a Garda station to have passport forms signed in respect of her one and two year old children. Following this event, she received information that her children’s details had been placed on the PULSE database.
The placing of the names of Traveller’s children on the PULSE database without good and sufficient reason thus giving them a criminal intelligence number would be a breach of their constitutional rights. If this is in fact what has happened those members of the traveller community may very well have a good cause action against An Garda Siochana for breach of the citizen’s right to equality before the law, family rights and the implied rights to privacy recognised by the Courts.
Minister Alan Shatter said in the Dail in response to questions on the matter that “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.”
Unfortunately this statement in the Dail does not state categorically that members of the Traveller community have not been recorded on the PULSE system by virtue alone of being a Traveller.