Frances Fitzgerald doesn't answer question about when Charlie Flanagan knew about the May 2015 email. Wonder was Charlie's outburst against Alan Kelly last week in the Dail linked to Charlie's knowledge of the email…
Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the email she claims she received on afternoon of May 15, 2015, but can’t remember receiving
At around 7.30pm.
Following questions over who knew what, when, in relation to the legal strategy used by the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and several gardai to discredit Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015…
Readers will recall how claims made at the commission were dropped after Sgt McCabe proved allegations made by the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan and allegations outlined in a five-page letter by the Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, were not true…
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar telephoned Sgt Maurice McCabe.
The call lasted around 15 minutes.
Broadsheet understands Mr Varadkar read out the email above – which Ms Fitzgerald told RTE’s News at One yesterday was sent to her in May 2015 but of which she had no memory – to Sgt McCabe.
It came after Mr Varadkar told the Dail last week that she only became aware of the legal strategy when it became public knowledge – a year later – in May 2016.
This email, Ms Fitzgerald told the Dail last night, came about after the Chief State Solicitor contacted an official in the Attorney General’s office who, in turn, contacted an official in the Department of Justice who, in turn, sent the email to Ms Fitzgerald.
The email suggests that, at the start of the hearings of the O’Higgins commission, the legal counsel for An Garda Siochana raised an allegation “that a serious complaint against Sergeant McCabe (which has had always denied) had not been properly investigated by the Garda Siochana”.
During the News At One, Ms Fitzgerald said this caused a row between the legal counsel for the Garda Commissioner, Colm Smyth SC, and the legal counsel for Sgt McCabe, Michael McDowell SC.
Sgt McCabe told Mr Varadkar during their telephone call that such a claim had never been made, or even mentioned, during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.
He told him that what was at issue at the commission, on May 15, 2015, was the fact he had been accused of wanting the DPP’s directions – in respect of a ‘dry humping’ allegation in 2006 – overturned.
Sgt McCabe explained to Mr Varadkar that, on the afternoon of May 15, 2015, he gave evidence to the commission outlining that he was very satisfied with the DPP directions and had no desire for them to be overturned.
Sgt McCabe also told the Taoiseach that the full transcript of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation can prove a) the contents of the email were never mentioned and b) what was at issue was the claim made by An Garda Siochana that Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions overturned.
Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald gave a statement to the Dail, during which the email she alleges was sent to her on the afternoon of May 15, 2015, was circulated to TDs present.
She also stated that she was aware the Taoiseach had spoken to Sgt McCabe yesterday evening.
However, she never mentioned that Mr Varadkar was told by Sgt McCabe that he said the contents of the email were untrue – even though this was put to her by Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy.
After she made her statement, at around 8.30pm, Mr Murphy asked Ms Fitzgerald, specifically, if she read the email and then forgot about it?
“When the department told me about this email last Thursday, as I’ve said, I didn’t remember that email. I would tend to read all of the emails that come to me. I can only assume that I did read it but I did not remember it when I was speaking to the Taoiseach.
“What I said to the Taoiseach was that I was, I would, I did not know about it, any legal strategy in advance. I wasn’t part of any legal strategy. I had no hand, act or part in any legal strategy. And that I was only aware of all of the details that came out one year later in may 2016.
“That’s what I said to the Taoiseach, that’s what I was referencing when I spoke to him and when he spoke here in the Dail, he was obviously repeating that and what I was referencing was the information that came out in May 2016 which was widely reported in media about tapes, about the Mullingar, about other Garda witnesses that I had no clue, no information about that.
“And that’s what I said to the Taoiseach when I spoke to him and obviously then the email was brought to my attention.”
Mr Murphy then said:
“Maurice McCabe is adamant that the criminal charges that you referred to on the radio and you refer to in the email here were not raised at the O’Higgins Commission. He’s adamant that what was raised at the O’Higgins Commission was in relation to him supposedly, which was false, seeking to get access to information of the DPP’s decision, not criminal charges.
“And he’s adamant that the email is inaccurate. So that begs a very serious question. I mean I trust that this is the email. But if it’s the case and if the transcript proves that the case that these were issues that were not raised in the O’Higgins Commission well then doesn’t it raise more serious questions if a campaign of slander etc was continuing and was being filtered through phone calls and then into emails.”
Ms Fitzgerald replied:
“When you look at, this was referencing a call from a senior official in the office of the Attorney General. Now you’re saying that Sgt McCabe is saying that what is in the email is incorrect. I would, I can only tell you what was in the email.
“I have absolutely no reason to believe that either a senior official from the department of the Attorney General or a senior official in my department would record what they, you know, what’s here, incorrectly, or as part of any campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe. That would be quite an extraordinary allegation to make about a senior official in the Department of the Attorney General.
“Now if you’re saying there’s a discrepancy between Sgt McCabe’s view and what is in this email. Well, we will just have to see what he has to say about it and, as I say, the Taoiseach did have a conversation with him…”
Readers should note that the serious complaint being referred to in the email above is related to an allegation of ‘dry humping’ in 1998 made by a Ms D in December 2006 some 11 months after her father, a guard, Mr D lost his position and was reverted to other duties after Sgt McCabe was involved in a disciplinary process against him in January 2006.
After the DPP investigated Ms D’s complaint, a letter from the DPP’s office was sent to the State solicitor for Cavan Rory Hayden on April 5, 2007, which stated: “Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”
In August, Broadsheet reported how, at the outset of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, in May 2015, Chief Supt Colm Rooney claimed Sgt McCabe had sought a meeting with him in 2007 demanding that the DPP’s directions – in respect of the “dry humping” allegation – be overturned.
The commission was told this was the basis of a grudge held by Sgt McCabe and the reason behind him making complaints about Garda misconduct.
When Chief Supt Rooney made this claim, An Garda Siochana weren’t aware that Sgt McCabe had been verbally, but fully, briefed of the DPP’s directions on the same day they were issued in April 2007.
Sgt McCabe gave evidence on day two of the commission – Friday,May 15, 2015 – in which he explained his knowledge of the DPP’s directions and how he had no desire for them to be overturned as he was very satisfied with them.
This was the first serious blow to the legal strategy employed by An Garda Siochana at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.
This hasn’t been reported elsewhere.
However, last night in the Dail, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace outlined the same chain of events.
Readers will also recall how, also at the outset of the commission, Colm Smyth SC, for the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and An Garda Siochana, said they would argue Sgt McCabe was making complaints about Garda misconduct because of this so-called grudge and that evidence of this would be based on a meeting Sgt McCabe had with two gardai, Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin, in Mullingar in August 2008.
But when this claim was made, the gardai weren’t aware that Sgt McCabe had recorded this meeting. This recording was given to the commission and proved the counsel’s claim to be untrue.
Readers will also recall how, on the same Friday afternoon of May 15, 2015, Sgt McCabe’s legal counsel Michael McDowell called for documentary evidence to be produced to support the claim that Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions overturned.
Over the following weekend, and in response to Mr McDowell’s request, a five-page document compiled by the then Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, was introduced to the commission on Monday, May 18, 2015 – day three of the commission.
This letter, in which it outlined claims of the Mullingar meeting, was contradicted by Sgt McCabe’s tape recording.
Last night, Mr Wallace contended that a meeting must have been held after Mr McDowell made his request for documentary evidence.
He asked Ms Fitzgerald if she knew who attended that meeting or if she knew anything about that meeting.
“I don’t know who attended that meeting. I do know Sgt McCabe, in relation to this allegation, as you will be aware as well, the Charleton Tribunal, at the Disclosures Tribunal, that he said it did not happen, it did not happen, it’s all a horrendous allegation to make and it did not happen. So we’re very clear about his view on this issue that arose.
“But deputy I couldn’t possibly, I’m not going to try and run the tribunal here and different elements of it.”
Mr Wallace then asked if she could confirm a meeting did take place over the weekend before Ms Creedon’s five-page letter was produced.
Ms Fitzgerald replied:
“How would I possibly know whether there had been a meeting in relation to what you’ve outlined or not? I could, I had no role, I do not have any role, I did not have any role in relation to the legal strategy. And I would say deputy if you have that, the queries you have, the questions, if you have information, the place for that to be laid is before the tribunal which is currently sitting and they are investigating in huge detail, under Judge Peter Charleton all of these issues.”
In relation to the claim outlined in the email – that there had been an allegation that a serious complaint against Sgt McCabe hadn’t been investigated properly…
Readers may wish to note that the Disclosures Tribunal has heard how Irish Independent journalist Paul Williams met Ms D at her home on March 8, 2014 and interviewed her.
Part of this interview was recorded on video.
Ms D told Mr Williams she felt her allegation of 2006 wasn’t investigated properly.
Mr Williams was the only journalist to interview Ms D in 2014 – a year after her allegation of ‘dry humping’ was wrongly recorded as an allegation of rape by a counsellor and Tusla in August 2013 and eventually passed up to the Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan in May 2014, completely unbeknownst to Sgt McCabe.
Mr Williams told the tribunal he wasn’t aware of this apparent mistake until February 2017.
During Mr Williams’ interview with Ms D recorded on video, they discussed GSOC and the tribunal heard that, in the video, Paul Williams is recorded asking Ms D:
“Would this involve GSOC or the Guards themselves or who would you like to investigate this? What body are you going to complain to?”
While giving evidence, Mr Williams was asked if he spoke to Ms D about GSOC before videoing the interview and he said: No.
However, Ms D told tribunal:
I recall speaking to Paul Williams and telling him that I was very unhappy with how the investigation of my complaint was handled in 2006. There was a couple of valid reasons I had for this belief, and having explained these reasons to Paul Williams he did suggest to me, and advised me, that if I had a complaint that I wished to follow that GSOC was an avenue I could go down, yes.
On April 29, 2014, Ms D emailed the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) claiming her allegation against Sgt McCabe was not properly investigated.
In her follow-up statement to GSOC on July 3, 2014, Ms D said:
“Paul Williams told me that my case had been known by a few people in senior ranks in the Gardaí and Government for some time.”
In relation to this comment, Mr Williams told the tribunal:
“That, that comment came from the fact, I would have been talking to — when after I interviewed her [Ms D] I contacted [former Head of the Garda Press Office who alleges there was a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe] Dave Taylor, told him what I was looking at, asked him questions. He made a throwaway remark that it was known in the Park, as in the Phoenix Park, and he suggested it was known in government. But it was — it was a passing comment, and I actually reported that back to her, I told her what he told me.”
Ms D’s father also made a statement to GSOC.
When they gave their statements, neither Ms D nor Mr D told GSOC about the “monumental cock-up” by RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy and Tusla in relation to the elevation of a ‘dry humping’ allegation to an allegation of rape.
The Disclosures Tribunal has already heard that, after looking at Ms D’s complaint, GSOC reported, in May 2015:
“GSOC established that Inspector Noel Cunningham carried out appropriate inquiries and uncovered no evidence of any criminality on the part of him in the investigation or any other Gardaí and how the investigation was conducted.”
In addition, Mr McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, told the Disclosures Tribunal, that, after this finding, GSOC sent a “lengthy report” to the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald about the same.
Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald
On RTÉs News At One.
Aine Lawlor interviewed Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald about what she knew, when, in relation to the legal strategy employed by the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan against Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.
During the interview, Ms Fitzgerald said she received an email in May 2015 stating a criminal charge against Sgt McCabe had been raised at the commission and that it had been claimed that this charge hadn’t been properly investigated.
Ms Fitzgerald said she was told a row ensued between the counsel for Sgt McCabe and the counsel for the commissioner at the commission because of this claim.
Ms Fitzgerald said the email was based on information that an officer in the Attorney General’s office gave to a Department of Justice official in a phone call in May 2015.
After the interview, just as Leaders’ Questions began in the Dail, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin told the Dail that just before he entered the Dail chamber…
“I took a phonecall from Maurice McCabe, he’d been on to another deputy. And he is adamant that such an issue was never raised during the O’Higgins inquiry. And he’s taking very serious issue with the remarks of the Tanaiste on the News at One today. And my understanding is that he will be issuing a statement.”
Readers will recall how on May 6, 2014, Sean Guerin SC, after examining allegations of Garda misconduct made by Sgt McCabe, Mr Guerin recommended that a Commission of Investigation be held into the complaints.
This would eventually lead to the setting up of the privately held O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015.
At the outset of the O’Higgins Commission, counsel for the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and An Garda Siochana Colm Smyth SC said it would argue Sgt McCabe was making complaints about Garda misconduct because he had a grudge and that evidence of this would be based on a meeting Sgt McCabe had with two gardai, Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin, in Mullingar in August 2008.
Broadsheet has previously reported how it was also claimed at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation by Chief Supt Colm Rooney that Sgt McCabe had sought a meeting with him in 2007 demanding that the DPP’s directions – in respect of an “dry humping” allegation made by the daughter of a guard previously disciplined by Sgt McCabe in 2006 – be overturned.
The commission was told this was the basis of a grudge held by Sgt McCabe and the reason behind him making complaints about Garda misconduct.
The DPP’s directions were categorically in Sgt McCabe’s favour. They included the line:
“Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”
At the beginning of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, An Garda Siochana weren’t aware that Sgt McCabe had been verbally, but fully, briefed of the DPP’s directions on the same day they were issued in April 2007.
Sgt McCabe gave evidence on day two of the commission – Friday, May 15, 2015 – in which he explained his knowledge of the DPP’s directions and how he had no desire for them to be overturned as he was very satisfied with them.
This hasn’t been reported elsewhere.
Readers will also recall how Broadsheet has previously reported how, on that same Friday afternoon, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, called for documentary evidence to be produced to support the claim that Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions overturned.
Over the following weekend, and in response to Mr McDowell’s request, a five-page document compiled by the then Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, was introduced to the commission on Monday, May 18, 2015 – day three of the commission.
In Ms Creedon’s letter, she stated:
“[In relation to the 2008 meeting in Mullingar] … “Superintendent [Noel] Cunningham was accompanied to this meeting by Sergeant Yvonne Martin. Notes were taken at the meeting and countersigned by Sergeant Martin, and a detailed report of the meeting was prepared by Superintendent Cunningham, and its contents agreed with Sergeant Martin, and forwarded to Chief Superintendent [Colm] Rooney.”
“In the course of this meeting Sergeant McCabe advised Superintendent Cunningham that the only reason he made the complaint against Superintendent [Michael] Clancy was to force him to allow Sergeant McCabe to have the full DPP directions conveyed to him.”
A tape recording of the meeting, produced by Sgt McCabe, contradicted Ms Gleeson’s assertions.
The claim about the grudge and the claim about the grudge being made known at the meeting were dropped by the Garda Commissioner’s legal counsel.
But they were never included in the commission’s final report.
In addition, it’s been claimed by Labour TD Alan Kelly that a phonecall was made from the Commissioner’s office to the secretary general of the Department of Justice Noel Waters on May 15, 2015.
The purpose of that alleged call is unknown.
Last week, Mr Waters announced he’s stepping down from his role in February.
Readers will recall how, after the report of O’Higgins Commission of Investigation was published in May 2016 – which didn’t outline any of the details above, Mick Clifford, in the Irish Examiner, and Katie Hannon, of RTE, reported how Ms O’Sullivan’s legal counsel made the claim about 2008 Mullingar meeting and how Sgt McCabe’s tape recording proved this not to be the case.
There have since been calls to know exactly what the Department of Justice and the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald knew of this legal strategy.
Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dail Ms Fitzgerald learned of the legal strategy when it became public knowledge – which is May 2016.
But last night, Ms Hannon reported on Claire Byrne Live that a Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed to her this week that Ms Fitzgerald was first made aware in May 2015.
Further to this…
From News At One:
Aine Lawlor: “I think, minister, and just to clarify again so we’re not at cross purposes. The questions here are not in relation to whether you’re the person drawing up the strategy. The question is are you the person being informed about what’s going on? There was a row at the tribunal [sic] in May 2015. The O’Higgins Commission was told that evidence would be produced to show that whistleblower Maurice McCabe who had fought so long and so hard to be able to tell his story and suffered so much for it, that he would be shown to be somebody with a grudge.
“We’re told the Department was informed. Who told you then?”
France Fitzgerald: “Let me be clear: what emerged last week from and what the Department were referencing yesterday was that there was a conversation between an official in the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office.The Attorney General’s office officer told an official in the department in a telephone conversation…”
Lawlor: “Was this Noel Waters?”
Fitzgerald: “And that an issue had arisen at the tribunal in relation to the approach that the counsel for An Garda Siochana were taking. And that the counsel for Sgt Maurice McCabe had objected very strongly to that. Because it was raising an issue about a criminal, a serious criminal complaint which his counsel felt had nothing to do with the current situation. And this was then put in an email by the official who had taken the phonecall. The Department discovered that email last week and I was informed towards the end of the week, in relation to this. Now when I…can I…”
Talk over each other
Lawlor: “Sorry minister, because you’ve said a fair bit but you still haven’t answered the question: were you, because the department says now, as of last night, you were aware of this. Who told you what in May 2015 about that row?”
Fitzgerald: “What I’ve said to you is that the department discovered an email last week when they were trying to answer various questions that had come in. They found an email that record that details of this conversation that it had been sent to me at that point and that it is..”
Lawlor: “The email was sent to you?”
Fitzgerald: “Let me finish.. that it specifically said in the email that there was no function for me getting involved in a Commission of Investigation and anybody’s evidence before it that it would be actually a criminal act by me if I was to get involved in that. Now when I…”
Lawlor: “Did you read that email Tanaiste?”
Fitzgerald: “When I spoke to the Taoiseach, let me just say this Aine, when I spoke to the Taoiseach what I explained was that all of the information that came out in May 2016, about garda witnesses, about tapes. All of that, that was leaked, I had absolutely no knowledge about any of that until May 2016 and that is what I had said to the Taoiseach and that is what he was commenting on when he spoke in the Dail.”
Lawlor: “Ok, I’ll come onto May 2016 in a minute but let’s just stay with May 2015. There’s this row at the tribunal. There is a conversation between the AG’s office and somebody in your Department, you haven’t told us whom.”
Fitzgerald: “That’s right.”
Lawlor: “And you are sent an email about this. Did you read that email?”
Fitzgerald: “Well I don’t remember that particular email.”
Lawlor: “Do you remember getting information about this?”
Fitzgerald: “One of the reasons that I don’t remember it is because it actually specifically said that I had no function in relation to evidence before a tribunal, given by any party. What I have done and what I…”
Lawlor: “So you don’t remember?”
Fitzgerald: “I don’t remember that particular email but the department found it last Thursday and I, I spoke to the Department and saw what was in it. But the point is that it specifically said I had no role in relation to it. Now what I did do, though Aine, and I think it’s very important to say this is that from the moment I became Minister for Justice I did absolutely everything to make sure that any discussion that I would have with the Garda Commissioner in relation to whistleblowing was about making sure that whistleblowers were protected, supported, that the way they were dealing with it in An Garda Siochana, they brought in Transparency International, my constant focus was to, and any time any thing was raised in the Dail, was to discuss and say you know, you’ve got to look after whistleblowers properly…”
Lawlor: “Tanaiste, given that you couldn’t remember what you had been told in May 2015. Why when Mick Clifford and Katie Hannon reported in May 2016 that actually the State had argued that Maurice McCabe was simply a man with a grudge and if he he hadn’t secretly recorded the conversation with other gardai, that might have stuck. Why did you not have your memory jogged? And speak about that in the Dail in 2016?”
Fitzgerald: “I was not party to what was going on at the O’HIggins Commission. You know the O’Higgins Commission was private and as minister, I remember saying at the time, when there was part information leaked that I couldn’t comment on part information when I didn’t have the full facts and what I said was we’d set up and what I did was set up the Charleton tribunal which is now examining the specifically that legal strategy but I didn’t know about that legal strategy but that commission, that tribunal is examining precisely what the approach was to the evidence and the approach that the gardai took. I meant he Charleton Tribunal which is where, if anybody has any information, or any TD, or any member of the public has information about this issue, it should go to the Charleton Tribunal now which this house set up, and or course the Department of Justice is also part of that those terms of reference.”
Lawlor: “You didn’t know about this, of course, minister, and you can’t remember the email but the fact of the matter is did the penny not drop even in May 2016? That if it were not for the media, if it were not for Maurice McCabe’s own tapes, because he didn’t trust by that stage, at that stage, because of everything he had been through, that man could have been left out to dry and not believed. The O’Higgins Commission may not have said the things you’ve just quoted about. The Charleton Tribunal may never have happened and that would have happened on your watch as minister for justice. Because you weren’t remembering it was the media that were publishing.”
Fitzgerald: “That’s a quite unfair description because what I did, as minister, when I got the Guerin Report, I set up the O’Higgins Commission. Every act I took, in my role as Minister for Justice, was to support whistleblowers and then when this issue about the strategy, the legal strategy which we’ve yet to hear, from the Charleton Tribunal, precisely what that legal strategy was, I have set up a specific term of reference in the Charleton Tribunal.”
Lawlor: “So you were expressing support for Maurice McCabe in the Dail, praising him, but you were also, when the leaks came out instead of saying ‘oh my gosh, yes, I got an email, I remember that now’. You were condemning those leaks as illegal, did you not remember the email you’d been sent at the time, telling you that this was a strategy condemning…”
Fitzgerald: “What I was saying was that it was part of the story and as minister for justice, I couldn’t operate on the basis of leaks that were coming out. And indeed, Aine, it’s very important to remember there’s a tribunal sitting at the moment, to examine specifically the issue of that strategy and whether there was a strategy in place. I cannot assume what that strategy was. What is referenced in the email is an event at the tribunal in relation to a disagreement between two counsel and the details around that. That’s what’s referenced. It’s not about an overall strategy.”
Lawlor: “And you’ve told us in this interview that the Chief State Solicitor’s Office was dealing with the Attorney General on this. Did you have any conversations with the Attorney General…”
Fitzgerald: “The Chief..sorry? The Chief State Solicitor, no, the Attorney General and a department of official that had the conversation that was then reported to me.”
Lawlor: “OK, did you discuss this with the Attorney General?”
Fitzgerald: “No, I didn’t discuss the details of this because it wasn’t my role to be discussing anybody’s strategy at the tribunal.”
Lawlor: “Why? It was fair enough for the State to argue that Maurice McCabe had a grudge?”
Fitzgerald: “But I do not have evidence, I do not have evidence that the State were arguing that Maurice McCabe had a grudge?”
Lawlor: “Well there was a row about it in May 2015 and…isn’t that what we were talking about Tanaiste?”
Fitzgerald: “No, no, the information that was shared from the Attorney’s office at that point was that – about the disagreement between the two counsel down at the tribunal. It was, I…I was not involved…”
Lawlor: “And what were you told they were disagreeing about?”
Fitzgerald: “..in the legal strategy.”
Lawlor: “What were you told they were disagreeing about?”
Fitzgerald: “About the fact that a serious criminal charge which Sgt McCabe had denied had been raised.”
Lawlor: “What kind of criminal charge, did you not ask?”
Fitzgerald: “Well you know, it’s, I, it wasn’t for me to get into the details in relation to it, the criminal charge.”
Lawlor: “You were the minister for justice…”
Ftizgerald: “The criminal charge had been, had, you know, there had been I think subsequently, there has been detail in relation to that but what I was, what was reported to me, the allegation had been that a serious criminal complaint against Sgt McCAbe, which he had always denied had not been properly investigated by the Garda Siochana. That was the allegation.”
Lawlor: “And that’s in the email is it?”
Fitzgerald: “That, that, that is the only detail in relation to the specific of the complaint against the two of them.
Lawlor: “And that’s what the email says, is that right?’
Fitzgerald: “The allegation had been that a serious criminal complaint against Sgt McCabe, which he’d always denied, had not been properly investigated and that was the source of disagreement between the two counsel.”
From top: Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan; former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; and Sgt Maurice McCabe
In The Sunday Times.
John Mooney reported:
“The Disclosures tribunal has been given official notes of conversations between Nóirín O’Sullivan, the former garda commissioner, and senior gardai. They outline the strategy she adopted when dealing with whistleblower Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.”
“The contemporaneous records show O’Sullivan did not instruct lawyers to question McCabe’s integrity. Instead she asked them to question the motivation and credibility of allegations he was making about garda colleagues.”
“Claims that O’Sullivan had instructed lawyers to question McCabe’s integrity were based on selected transcripts from the commission, which were leaked to newspapers.
“It was suggested she was telling lawyers to challenge McCabe’s integrity in private while publicly commending him for speaking out against wrongdoing.
“O’Sullivan’s legal team subsequently clarified that they had been asked to challenge the whistleblower’s “motivation and credibility”.
“It is understood O’Sullivan was interviewed in private session by Charleton’s investigators last week.”
Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and former Minister for Justice and current Tanaiste France Fitzgerald
Further to questions remaining over what former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Department of Justice knew of the legal strategy which was employed against Sgt Maurice McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015…
Because, readers will recall, the legal strategy of the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was outlined at the commission but later dropped after Sgt McCabe proved claims made by the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan, and claims outlined in a five-page letter by the Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, were untrue…
And how nothing of this abandoned strategy was recorded in the commission’s final report…
And how the Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters announced he’s stepping down in February – within hours of the Dail hearing of reports of a phone call from Ms O’Sullivan’s office to Mr Waters on May 15, 2015 – the same day Sgt McCabe delivered his first blow to Ms O’Sullivan’s legal strategy…
Daniel McConnell, in the Irish Examiner, writes:
Dáil chairman, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail, is “considering” a fresh complaint from Labour TD Alan Kelly over information he sought over the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
Mr Ó Fearghail yesterday received new correspondence from Mr Kelly and he is now taking the matter under consideration for adjudication, a spokeswoman for the Oireachtas said.
It centred on questions put to the Department of Justice, by Labour TD Alan Kelly, in relation to what knowledge, if any, the department had about the legal strategy employed by An Garda Siochana at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015.
Readers will recall how at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation – which was set up to examine complaints of Garda malpractice made by Sgt McCabe – legal counsel for former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said it would argue that Sgt McCabe made his complaints because of a grudge and that evidence of this would be based on a particular meeting Sgt McCabe had with two other gardai.
This line of argument was dropped after Sgt McCabe produced a recording of the meeting which proved this was untrue.
Mr Kelly has written to the Department of Justice asking what knowledge the former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald had of this legal strategy.
He’s also written to the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, the now Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about the same.
He’s now calling for Mr Varadkar to make a public statement on the matter.
He also said he believes that, if the Department of Justice was aware, then the terms of reference for the Disclosures Tribunal – which is being overseen by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton and is examining allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe – need to be widened to include the department.
Further to this…
Mr Kelly spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio One this morning in which he reiterated his questions.
From the interview…
Sean O’Rourke: “You lay particular emphasis on contacts between the Commissioner’s office and the office of the Secretary General of the Department of Justice on the 15th of May 2015. Why is that date important?”
Alan Kelly: “It’s very important because this is the day that everything changed in relation to O’Higgins and that Maurice McCabe became aware of a different strategy as regards the Commissioner and their legal strategy to him. And, in relation to the whole aspect of whether he had had motives, different motives…”
O’Rourke: “Yeah, a grudge.”
Kelly: “An agenda or had a grudge in relation certain aspects of the gardai and that’s why he acted in the way in which he did. It was proven to be false…”
Kelly: “If they [Department of Justice] come out and say ‘no, they weren’t aware in any way, shape or form, this dies. Because it’s effectively saying look no they weren’t privy to anything. The issue is this: in the questions and answers that I’ve got back from Minister Flanagan, he doesn’t deny that there were meetings. He doesn’t deny that there was something going on.”
Readers may wish to note that, although it hasn’t been mentioned on RTE, Broadsheet previously reported how, at the outset of the O’Higgins Commission, the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan argued that the reason for this so-called grudge was that Sgt McCabe wanted the directions made by the DPP in 2007 – in respect of a “dry humping” allegation made by the daughter, Ms D, of a guard previously disciplined by Sgt McCabe in 2006 – overturned.
But the DPP’s directions were categorically in Sgt McCabe’s favour.
And what the gardai didn’t know, going into the commission, was that Sgt McCabe had been fully briefed of the DPP’s directions back in 2007 when they were first issued.
These were the DPP’s directions:
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 1st March 2007 together with copy Garda investigation file.
I agree with you and the Guards, that the evidence does not warrant a prosecution. There was no admission. The incident as described by the injured party is vague. It appears that it was only when she was eleven/twelve that she decided that whatever occurred was sexual in nature.
Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault.
Further, the account given to her cousin [redacted] differs in a number of respects to that given to her parents and the Guards.
There is no basis for a prosecution.
And the date Sgt McCabe informed the O’Higgins Commission that he was fully aware of the DPP’s directions, knew they were strongly in his favour and, therefore, had no desire for them to be overturned?
May 15, 2015.
(Readers should note the ‘humping’ allegation mentioned above was revived in 2013 when Ms D went to a counsellor and the counsellor sent a botched referral outlining a much more serious allegation of rape to Tusla.
This botched referral would eventually reach Ms O’Sullivan’s office in May 2014 and the false allegation against Sgt McCabe remained on file in the Commissioner’s office until the Disclosures Tribunal began earlier this year).
Garda Commissioner Noriin O’Sullivan and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald
At the Disclosures Tribunal.
Legal counsel for Sgt Maurice McCabe Michael McDowell SC, while questioning Fiona Ward – a director of counselling with RIAN – claimed he was of the understanding that the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald was informed of “the whole situation” pertaining to Sgt McCabe in 2015.
Mr McDowell made the point as he was asking Ms Ward why “nobody bothered” to tell Sgt McCabe about the allegations that he said led to his reputation being “shredded in private”.
When this was queried by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton, Mr McDowell said he could be wrong but repeated it was his recollection that Ms Fitzgerald was informed in 2015.
Readers will recall that Sgt McCabe was not made aware of the matters until December 29, 2015.
In February of this year, Ms Fitzgerald said she was not aware of the Tusla error and released a statement saying the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone had informed her in January, 2017, that she intended to meet with Sgt McCabe but that Ms Zappone did not inform Ms Fitzgerald of any details in relation to Tusla.
At the same time, Taoiseach Enda Kenny also said that he was also aware of Ms Zappone’s meeting with the McCabes and was also not made aware of the details of their meeting.
Readers will also recall how two protected disclosures were made to Ms Fitzgerald by Sgt McCabe and former head of the Garda Press Office Superintendent Dave Taylor, in relation to the same matter, in October 2016.
Ms Fitzgerald later appointed Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill to investigate the disclosures and Justice O’Neill’s report was given to Ms Fitzgerald in December 2016.
Ms Fitzgerald then announced that it was establishing the current Disclosures Tribunal on February 7, 2017.
The new Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland met for the first time.
At a media briefing, when asked about calls for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to stand down, head of the commission Kathleen O’Toole – who was on the panel which appointed Ms O’Sullivan to Garda Commissioner in 2014 – said:
“I don’t think it would make a difference whether it was Nóirín O’Sullivan or someone else. I think this management team inherited a poison chalice. And I think we need to get beyond the finger-pointing and the name-calling. We want to look to the future.”
Further to this…
During Leaders’ Questions, taken by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace spoke about Ms O’Toole’s comments and, later, revisited the protected disclosure made by whistleblower Garda Nick Keogh.
Readers will recall how Garda Keogh, in May 2014, as a member of the drugs squad in Athlone, made a formal complaint to the then confidential recipient Judge Pat McMahon about a garda in the drugs squad and their alleged involvement in the supply of heroin in Westmeath, Offaly and Longford.
Garda Keogh also claimed a State mobile phone was supplied by a senior garda to a suspended garda whom Garda Keogh alleged had links to the drugs trade in Co Westmeath.
In November 2014, Mr Wallace told the Dail that since Garda Keogh had made his complaint, he had been subjected to constant harassment by senior management, manufactured complaints were made against him, and his activities were monitored. In December 2015, Garda Keogh went on sick leave.
In 2016, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported that an internal investigation found evidence to substantiate “many” of Garda Keogh’s claims.
However, Garda Keogh still has to see any report of this investigation and it’s understood none has been published.
In addition, Mr Mooney reported that the DPP toldGarda Headquarters that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those implicated, but that a senior garda and a drugs squad garda in Athlone would face disciplinary proceedings.
Readers may also recall how, in January of this year, GSOC requested to oversee the disciplinary investigation of the two gardai but Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan refused GSOC’s request.
From today’s Leaders’ Questions…
Mick Wallace: “Tánaiste, yesterday Kathleen O’Toole confirmed the suspicion of many, that the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is a fig leaf to divert attention away from the crises in Garda management. She said that their task is not to scrutinise the performance of individuals and that Garda management inherited a poison chalice. What she forgot to tell us is that the present commissioner was part of the poison when she got the job in 2014. Why did they appoint someone that was part of the problem?”
“Head of GSOC [Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission] Mary Ellen Ring said last week, I would have thought you could have this commission done and dusted by December the 1st, if they just sat down and read the [Garda] Inspectorate’s reports and that there was no guarantee that the report delivered by the Commission on the Future of Policing in September 2018 would be acted upon.”
“As the head of the Garda Inspectorate Robert Olsen, previous reforms identified had not been implemented. No one, he said, had made the change happen. In the last few weeks, things have got so bad at Garda Headquarters that a decision was made to grant a barrister and junior counsel to both the Commissioner and her most senior Assistant Commissioner, at the expense of the State. They can’t even be in the same room without being lawyered up.”
“As a result of the failure to resolve issues around the complaints made by the same Assistant Commissioner, including interference in the interview process for the Commissioner’s job back in 2014. Despite the expenditure of tens of thousands in consultancy payments to a company to investigate the issue – a job that was never tendered.”
“Interestingly, that same interview panel that trawled the world before deciding that Noirin O’Sullivan was the best person to replace Martin Callinan, involved not only Josephine Feehily, who in her role as head of the Policing Authority has failed to recommend the removal of the Commissioner; Kathleen O’Toole, who yesterday indicated that she wanted to take the heat off Noirin; but also Vivienne Jupp, a former executive of global management consultancy Accenture, a company which benefited from multi-million euro contracts with An Garda Siochana.”
“Vivienne Jupp was also instrumental in establishing Cyril Dunne as Chief Administrative Officer inside An Garda Siochana who was among the first to be made aware of the Templemore scandal.
“Yesterday, the outgoing Taoiseach said if a minister were in charge of a calamity, like that in the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement, they’d be immediately sacked. Tanaiste, you might find yourself heading up a different department in a few weeks time, the present commissioner has given more than enough proof that she is not the person to bring An Garda Siochana forward.”
“Minister, Tanaiste, this might be your last few weeks in justice, would you not consider doing what needs to be done in the best interests of An Garda Siochana because the legislation allows for you to remove the commissioner when it is in the best interests of An Garda Siochana and it certainly would be.”
“The house that is known as An Garda Siochana is falling down around her ears. While scandals, which can only be described as white collar crime continue to escalate around Templemore, at the other end of the scale, the plot thickens around the Garda involvement in the heroin trade in Athlone.
“On the 19th of May, 2017, presiding Circuit Court judge Keelan Johnson expressed his displeasure, annoyance and frustration at being seriously misled by a garda. The judge outlined, in public, in open court, that, on the 7th of June, 2016, while sentencing a woman on drug offences, committed on the 2nd of June, 2015, a garda purposefully, and deliberately misled him and the court.”
“The same drugs operation, for which other gardai have been found to have had an involvement in, as a result of the protected disclosure of Garda Nick Keogh three years ago, yet, nobody’s been arrested, nobody’s been charged, three years later. Why? Because some of Noirin’s inner circle are being protected.”
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke about the late Dara Quigley and her question was responded to by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
Mick Barry, of the Solidarity-People Before Profit party, also spoke about Dara and Fine Gael’s Minister of State for Mental Health Helen McEntee responded to him.
Mary Lou McDonald: “Tánaiste, yesterday, the Taoiseach indicated that you would be more than happy, in fact delighted, it seemed, to come before the House and make a statement on the matters surrounding Templemore and some of the issues that we touched on and Leaders’ Questions. You also indicated that you would be quite happy to take questions in that regard. So I want to know, when you propose to do that.
“And can I also say, Tánaiste, when you take to your feet on that occasion, I would like you also to shed some light on the case of Dara Quigley. A young woman who died by suicide on April 12. She had been detained by gardaí some days previously, under the Mental Health Act. She had been walking naked on a Dublin street when detained and Garda CCTV footage of this detention was posted on Facebook. A really deplorable and revolting turn of events and something that has brought great hardship to her family and clearly brought very, very great distress to Dara. So we mark her passing and when we talk about Garda culture and reform and accountability, I suppose this the rawest end, the sharpest end of deplorable, a deplorable culture of humiliation and disregard for human beings.”
“So, Tánaiste, I hope that you will, as the Taoiseach promised, come before the House, make your statement, take questions and I hope also that you might shed some light on the accountability that will be held for the life of Dara Quigley.”
Frances Fitzgerald: “Well, in relation to the individual case that you mention, deputy. Everybody would be totally disturbed and appalled by the story that has been reported in the media and actions are following on from that. As you know, that has been reported, there is an investigation and there is a GSOC inquiry but, just to say, of course our thoughts are with, are with that young woman’s family, given the appalling and very, very sad sequence of events. No doubt, the business committee can discuss the question of ministers appearing before the Dáil and, certainly, I want to make the point that, I don’t want to cut across in any way the work that the Public Accounts Committee is doing in relation to Templemore.”
Mick Barry: “There has been media comment on the circumstances leading up to the death of the journalist and blogger Dara Quigley. Very serious questions have been raised about the Garda Síochána and their treatment of the most vulnerable in society. I want to leave those questions for another day.”
“Today, I want to ask you a question on dual diagnosis. Dara suffered and struggled with both addiction and mental health problems. She received help from many agencies but what was available was not sufficient. A particular problem was the lack of dual diagnosis services for psychiatric and addiction problems are treated together in a professional and properly funded manner. My question to the Tánaiste: does she see a legislative pathway to addressing this problem?”
Helen McEntee: “Just to join you in offering my condolences to her family and to her friends. This is, you know, it’s an absolutely terrible situation and it’s deplorable what has happened consequently since. The issue of dual diagnosis is something that we haven’t dealt with in the past and we know that in a significant number of suicides, there is a link between drug or alcohol use as well. We’re currently developing a clinical programme on the issue of dual diagnosis.”
“We’ve appointed a national clinical lead who will be working to develop a programme which means that if somebody is suffering from either a drug or alcohol problem that is leading on to a mental health problem, that there will be a clear clinical pathway for our doctors and nurses within our acute hospitals but also in our primary care settings so there’s work well underway and we’d be hoping to continue that into the year.”