Green Party TD Patrick Costello has said that Ireland needs to follow the lead of other countries and stop using Hikvision security cameras in Leinster House.
The cameras, which are manufactured in China, have already been linked to security risks in the United Kingdom, the United States and by Australia and banned from use in government buildings in Australia, Mr Costello told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
When asked if the cameras were in sensitive areas in Leinster House, such as the rooms in which party meetings take place, he said they were used inside and outside and were “quite visible in lots of corridors.
“I don't know if they're in party rooms, but certainly they're broadly used, are widely used as they are in the country, but they're widely used throughout the Leinster House complex.”
Mr Costello said he thought the Hikvision cameras had been removed in the UK, the US, Denmark and Australia because of concerns around security leaks.
“I think we need to look at this in the context of the Government making a decision that mobile phones will no longer be allowed into cabinet meetings because of security concerns. So all these things are very real."
When countries like the UK, the United States and Australia “who know a thing or two about spying and espionage, are flagging these things as a security risk, we've got to start.”
Because it was specifically Hikvision cameras that had been linked to security risks by those countries, Mr Costello said he was asking for a review of the security around these cameras. “As I say, countries that know a lot about espionage are highlighting these cameras as a security risk. We are using them widely.”
The links between Hikvision and the Chinese State were part of the reason for his call, he said. “It's the link to the Chinese state and the link to the Chinese military.
“As I say, these three countries have banned them for good reason. And we need to at the very least be asking why are they buying them? What are they not telling us? What did they know that we don't? Well, let me because it's not just about Ireland. Ireland is a member of the European Union. This is about spying in the European Union as a whole.”
A statement from the Chinese manufacturer claimed that Hikvision cameras are compliant with the applicable Irish laws and regulations and are subject to strict security requirements. In response, Mr Costello said that GDPR regulations needed to be effective, and he said did not believe that was the case.
“I think the Data Protection Commission has to pull up their socks there because that is a shield for the citizen against an unwarranted intrusion. We have three countries who know a thing or two about spying, who are claiming there are security issues here.
“This is something we need to look at, regardless of what is said. This is something that we need to assess for ourselves.”