An award-winning journalist from Enniskillen has questioned if the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spied on him during the making of his acclaimed documentary series on former billionaire Sean Quinn.

Enniskillen born journalist Trevor Birney made these comments following allegations that Barry McCaffrey, a journalist who worked for investigative news website, The Detail which is owned by Mr. Birney had his phone monitored and data harvested by the PSNI when he was investigating potential corruption in the police force.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, Mr. Birney said that the full truth on the PSNI accessing the data of journalists will not be realised until there is a “full judicial inquiry” into the PSNI’s behaviour toward the press.

“I think that until there is a full judicial inquiry into the PSNI about its behaviour, that examines everything they were doing since they were established.”

He now wonders if the PSNI spied on him and those who worked on the RTE documentary ‘Quinn Country’, including new Impartial Reporter Editor, Rodney Edwards.

‘Sensitive projects’

He said: “There have been numerous sensitive projects including Seán Quinn, given everything that went on down at the Border but there are other documentaries we have made over the years that have no doubt came to the attention of the PSNI for one reason or another.

“We were dealing with the PSNI around Seán Quinn and we were dealing with incredibly sensitive material given what happened to Kevin Lunney, given the violence, given the anger and given what was going on in the Border. I have no doubt we will look back at that and ask were they monitoring our data at that time.”

Mr. Birney also warned that allegations which came to light in recent days are “the tip of the iceberg”.

“I think Simon Byrne is going to have to step up to the plate here and come absolutely clean and let us know what exactly they [the PSNI] were doing with journalists. Was this a systematic widespread cultural attitude toward journalists that allowed them to go after data at the drop of a hat, that is my concern.

“It is horrific, it is undermining of public confidence in policing, it is undermining of the rights of journalists in Northern Ireland to go about their business without fear of having to look over their shoulder at the PSNI.”