Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan at the PAC with then Garda Press Officer Supt Dave Taylor (behind left) and Director of Communications at AGS Andrew McLindon (behind right)
At the Disclosures Tribunal which is examining allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Solicitor Gerard Kean will be the first witness up to give evidence from 10am.
Mr Kean will be followed by Noel Brett, who was the CEO of the Road Safety Authority for eight years until October 2013.
[Readers should note it was reported in 2014 that Mr Brett and AA’s Conor Faughnan were questioned by gardai over their dealings with Sgt McCabe in August 2013].
It’s understood questions put to Mr Kean will centre on events before and after his contribution to RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane Show on Sunday, January 26, 2014.
During the show, Mr Kean emphatically, and repeatedly, alleged that Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson didn’t cooperate with an internal Garda investigation into the quashing of penalty points by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney in 2013.
Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson later sued over the comments.
A transcript of the interview can be read here.
To sum up what the tribunal has heard so far…
As it stands, five people have told the tribunal of specific instances where they claim to have witnessed former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan give a negative briefing about Sgt McCabe.
Mr Callinan denies all the allegations.
Fianna Fail TD and former Public Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness claims Mr Callinan alleged Sgt McCabe “fiddles with kids” after a meeting of the PAC on Thursday, January 23, 2014 – at which Mr Callinan appeared and made his “disgusting” remark – and referred to both Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as “fucking headbangers”.
Although he hasn’t given evidence yet, the tribunal has heard that Supt Dave Taylor has told the tribunal that he also heard Mr Callinan make the “fiddles with kids” comment about Sgt McCabe.
Mr McGuinness also claims that, during a meeting in a car park of Bewley’s Hotel on the Naas Road, Dublin, on Friday, January 24, 2014, Mr Callinan told him that Sgt McCabe sexually abused his children and nieces.
Fine Gael TD John Deasy has told the tribunal that on the way to the PAC meeting – on Thursday, January 23, 2014 – he stopped to get a coffee in the coffee dock close the committee room when he had a brief conversation with Mr Callinan.
He said they chatted after then Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan introduced the two men.
Mr Deasy claims Mr Callinan told him that Sgt McCabe was not to be believed or trusted with anything.
The Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy – whose report into the quashing of penalty points was being discussed at that PAC meeting on that Thursday, January 23, 2014 – is scheduled to give evidence tomorrow.
But the tribunal’s opening statement from last summer shows that Mr McCarthy claims that he also had a short conversation with Mr Callinan outside the committee room and that Mr Callinan “made statements to the effect that Sergeant McCabe was not to be trusted, that he had questions to answer, and that there were allegations of sexual offences against him”.
RTE journalist Philip Boucher Hayes has also not given evidence yet but the tribunal’s opening statement says Mr Boucher Hayes claims that, on December 17, 2013, in RTE, Mr Hayes had a private conversation with Mr Callinan.
This came about after there was a row with RTE producers over whether Mr Boucher Hayes could ask Mr Callinan about the penalty point allegations made by Sgt McCabe on Crimecall.
Mr Boucher Hayes claims Mr Callinan told him Sgt McCabe was not to be trusted and that he was a “troubled individual” with a “lot of psychological issues and psychiatric issues”.
Mr Boucher Hayes claims Mr Callinan said Sgt McCabe was famous in An Garda Siochana for a set of grievances he had against Garda management and that there were other things he could tell Mr Boucher Hayes about him – “horrific things, the worst kind of thing” – but he didn’t elaborate further.
The journalist also alleges that Mr Callinan told him that if he wanted to know about Sgt McCabe or the penalty points issue, to contact Supt Dave Taylor. Mr Boucher Hayes claims, after this, Supt Taylor immediately “buttonholed” him and said: “Now do you understand what the problem with Maurice McCabe and the penalty points is?”
Both the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte have given statements to the tribunal to say what they had heard about Sgt McCabe.
Mr Rabbitte, who is scheduled to give evidence next Monday, has told the tribunal:
“Some time, I think, in 2014, my encounters in 2007 with Maurice McCabe were ventilated in an RTÉ interview. That same evening, in a prearranged meeting with a friend of mine, who is a former garda, he raised with me the content of the interview as it related to Sergeant McCabe. He said that he was unaware that I had any involvement with Sergeant McCabe, but I thought that I should be aware of what was being said ‘on the grapevine’. I took it that he was referring to the Garda grapevine and the matter that he wanted to warn me about was that there were rumours of alleged child abuse against Sergeant McCabe.”
Mr Varadkar has told the tribunal, in a statement:
“With regard to the innuendo and rumours, I was informed of these by Mr. Noel Brett, then CEO of the Road Safety Authority, which fell under my remit as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. I don’t recall the exact detail of the rumours, but I do recall they related to his character and motivation, that he was untrustworthy and had other grievances unrelated to road safety. I specifically recall a rumour about a computer* with evidence of criminality on it being lost by Sergeant McCabe.”
“While I was aware of innuendo and rumours circulating about Sergeant McCabe, I did not believe them to be true and, in any case, they did not take away from the evidence-based case he was making in relation to penalty points having been squared.”
*Sgt McCabe was subject to a disciplinary proceedings after the computer of Cavan priest Fr Michael Molloy – who went on to plead guilty to defilement of a child under 15, defilement of a child under 17, and child pornography – went missing in 2007.
The O’Higgins Commission of Investigation would later find:
“It is difficult to understand why Sergeant McCabe was the only person subjected to disciplinary proceedings for the loss of the computer…He was, quite rightly, exonerated…The commission has been told that disciplinary proceedings are measures of last resort. This makes the use of such proceedings against Sergeant McCabe all the more difficult to understand.“
Yesterday: Enter Gerald