Tag Archives: Katie Hannon

Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan attends the tribunal on January 24

At the Disclosures Tribunal. Judge Peter Charleton has repeatedly made the point that transcripts of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation show that nobody explicitly put to Sgt Maurice McCabe at the commission “did you sexually abuse a child?”.

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, has agreed with this as many times as Judge Charleton has raised it.

The context for this is that a woman, referred to as Ms D, made an allegation against Sgt McCabe in December 2006 which was found to have no foundation by the DPP in April 2007.

Judge Charleton described the DPP’s directions “as close to an exoneration as anyone could get”.

Ms D’s allegation of ‘dry humping’ was incorrectly conflated into a rape allegation after she went to see a counsellor in August 2013 in what the tribunal was told was a clerical error.

It was further conflated when it was sent to An Garda Siochana and the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan in May 2014 – even though gardai involved in sending the false rape allegation up the chain of command knew the original 2006 allegation had nothing to do with rape.

Fast forward to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, between May and December 2015 – which was tasked with looking at complaints about policing in Cavan and Monaghan – and we know “gross falsehoods”, in the words of Mr McDowell, or “factual inaccuracies”, in the words of former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, were levelled against Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins inquiry – which mainly centred on the DPP’s directions in respect of Ms D’s 2006 complaint.

The falsehoods/inaccuracies committed to paper followed Colm Smyth SC, for Ms O’Sullivan and other senior gardai, telling the commission that his instructions were “to challenge the integrity” of Sgt McCabe – something he would later, in November 2015, say was a “error”.

Judge O’Higgins put it to Mr Smyth on May 15, 2015: “One can suggest to a witness that his evidence shouldn’t be believed because of something, but an attack on somebody’s credibility, on his motivation or integrity, is something that really doesn’t form part of this inquiry. It would be necessary, I think, for you to go further and say that the complaints and the actions of Sergeant McCabe on your instructions were motivated by — his motivation was dishonest or wrong. In other words, that he made these allegations not in good faith but because he was motivated by malice or some such motive and that impinges on his integrity. If those are your instructions from the Commissioner, so be it. ”

Mr Smyth replied: “So be it. That is the position, Judge.”

The aforementioned falsehoods/inaccuracies were raised in evidence at the outset of the commission, committed to paper in the form of a 20-paragraph letter submitted on behalf of the Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon to the commission on May 18, 2015, and, in some cases, committed to paper again when written submissions were later made to the commission on June 11, 2015.

One of the falsehoods/inaccuracies was an allegation that Sgt McCabe was angry with the DPP and that he wanted the DPP’s directions challenged.

This was made before the O’Higgins Commission heard that Sgt McCabe had been briefed fully of the DPP’s directions and was very satisfied with them.

Another falsehood/inaccuracy was in the CSS letter which referred to a meeting Supt Noel Cunningham had with Sgt McCabe.

Supt Cunningham was accompanied at the meeting, in Mullingar in August 2008, by Sgt Yvonne Martin.

Of this meeting, the CSS letter – about which Sgt Martin was never consulted – stated:

“Having been appointed to investigate Sergeant McCabe’s complaint against Superintendent Clancy, now Superintendent Noel Cunningham, having attempted on a number of occasions to meet with Sergeant McCabe, eventually met with Sergeant McCabe by appointment on the 25th August 2008 in Mullingar Garda Station, to receive details of his formal complaint. Superintendent 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 Rooney. In the course of this meeting Sergeant McCabe advised Superintendent Cunningham that the only reason he made the complaints against Superintendent Clancy was to force him to allow sergeant McCabe to have the full DPP directions conveyed to him.

What actually happened was, the tribunal has heard, Sgt McCabe was asked, in February 2008, by Supt Michael Clancy, to write a report about matters pertaining to the D family after two public confrontations with Mrs D and Ms D in October 2007 and that Supt Clancy suggested he would try to get the DPP’s directions to the D family.

There was no complaint made against Supt Clancy and there was no threat of force either.

And, finally, the submissions – about which Sgt Martin was also never consulted – stated:

Sergeant McCabe then made a series of complaints against other officers in Bailieboro Station, including Superintendent Clancy against whom he alleged a lack of support. Chief Superintendent Rooney appointed Superintendent Cunningham to investigate these complaints. Superintendent Cunningham attempted to meet Sergeant McCabe to discuss the complaints and finally did so on 25th August 2008. On this occasion, Superintendent Cunningham was accompanied by Sergeant Martin.

It is understood that Superintendent Cunningham will give evidence that Sergeant McCabe said at that meeting that the complaint which he had made alleging lack of support, as referred to in the preceding paragraph, was a bid by him to have the full DPP directions conveyed to him and the complaining party. This is recorded in a report of the meeting prepared jointly by Sergeant Martin and Superintendent Cunningham.”

The submissions repeat the incorrect claim from the CSS letter and say Supt Cunningham will give evidence to that effect but this doesn’t occur.

It should be noted the CSS letter was delivered on May 18, the submissions were submitted on June 11 and Sgt McCabe’s transcript of the Mullingar meeting was circulated to the legal parties at O’Higgins on June 19.

Then, on June 24, the matter of any force being applied by Sgt McCabe was dropped.

In respect of these gross falsehoods/factual inaccuracies, Mr McDowell has been firm that Sgt McCabe believes that by raising the Ms D allegation – in terms of the DPP’s directions on the same – that this was a strategy deployed to discredit Sgt McCabe at the commission.

Specifically, Mr McDowell has told the tribunal: “..we believe and we say, and Sergeant McCabe is adamant on this, that it was dragged back in in a collateral way to embarrass him, to query his motives, to make him — to demean him in the eyes of the Commission…”

Ms O’Sullivan has maintained that what occurred with the three matters about the DPP directions referred to above were merely mistakes or errors – and that this was her understanding in 2015.

Further to this…

Last Thursday…

Judge Peter Charleton posed the question: “What are we here for?”.

He was speaking about the term of reference E which specifcally states:

To investigate whether the false allegations of sexual abuse or any other unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by Commissioner O’Sullivan to discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe at the Commission of Investigation into Certain Matters in the Cavan/Monaghan district under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice Kevin O’Higgins.

Yesterday, in the Sunday Business Post

In respect of the question posed by Judge Charleton last week, Katie Hannon wrote:

“He [Charleton] had been hearing submissions from counsel for the former Garda commissioner’s legal team at the O’Higgins Commission, who made the case that this module had come about “entirely on the basis of leaks of false information” that fake allegations of sexual abuse were relied on to discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.

It would indeed be a major outrage if two months of a tribunal had been wasted in investigating an erroneous leak. But the reality is that the leaks that caused such public disquiet at the time never suggested that McCabe had been accused of child sexual abuse before the commission.

“Indeed when Frances Fitzgerald was in the witness box the chairman asked her, as the minister who had presided over the drafting of this term of reference, “Where did the notion that anybody had made false allegations of sexual abuse and put them to Sergeant McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission ever come from?”

“Fitzgerald responded: “Well, it’s very hard to say exactly where it arose. But it seemed to be . . . it seemed to be an innuendo that, you know, was around, and that . . . in terms of, I think there may have been, there may have been some media coverage in relation to it.”

“If such media reports exist, this correspondent has not been able to find them. At the time the leaks emerged from the O’Higgins Commission, it had never been publicly reported that McCabe had been the subject of a false child abuse allegation.

“That only came into the public domain nine months later [in February 2017] when the Tusla file and the unfounded Ms D allegation emerged.

Until then, the leaks suggested that McCabe’s motivation had been challenged on the basis that he had admitted to making allegations of garda malpractice because he had a grievance against a senior officer.

After the Tusla revelations, journalists were in a position to report that this alleged grievance was in relation to the handling of the DPP directions relating to the Ms D case by a senior officer.

The question raised by the leaks was whether the Garda commissioner was stating that she fully supported McCabe in public while challenging his motives behind the closed doors of the O’Higgins inquiry.

“Justice Charleton’s question to the former minister is a pertinent one: why did the Department of Justice ask the tribunal to inquire into an allegation that had never been made?

“Counsel for McCabe, Michael McDowell, told the tribunal this week that his client had been accused by Nóirín O’Sullivan of being a “disaffected” sergeant on the basis of a number of false premises advanced by her legal team before Justice O’Higgins.

“He [Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe] contends that the D case was introduced at the commission in a peripheral way in a bid to discredit his client.

“That McCabe was accused of angrily demanding to have the DPP directions relating to this case changed to completely exonerate him, in circumstances where McCabe was “thrilled” with the DPP’s directions.

“That McCabe was accused of having admitted in a meeting to an improper motive for making his allegations of garda malpractice because he was trying to force the hand of a senior officer to have those directions given to the D family.

That while a report and notes of this meeting were produced which didn’t mention this confession, it was only after McCabe produced a verbatim transcript of the entire meeting that this charge was dropped.


The term of reference E hasn’t been the only matter blamed on media reports.

Readers will recall how when Ms O’Sullivan gave evidence at the tribunal she, similarly to Ms Fitzgerald, also blamed supposed false leaks or “distorted truths” in the media for deciding to refer both Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) in May 2016.

And in the same way that Judge Charleton has asked why the Department of Justice asked him to inquire into an allegation that had never been made – it could be asked: why did Noirin O’Sullivan ask GSOC to inquire into an allegation that she believed was just a mistake?

The decision to refer Supt Cunningham and Sgt Martin to GSOC came very shortly after reports about the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation by Mick Clifford, of the Irish Examiner and Katie Hannon, of RTE, on Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13, 2016.

Readers will recall that, prior to the publication of his article in the Irish Examiner on May 13, Mr Clifford sent the following press query to An Garda Siochana:

“We at the paper understand that the counsel for the Commissioner, on instruction, told Mr. O’Higgins that it would be the Commissioner’s case in the inquiry that Maurice McCabe had acted out of malice. This submission took place in the early days of evidence hearing. We also understand that Mr. O’Higgins was told that evidence to that effect would be produced but ultimately never was. In relation to that, we are just asking if Commissioner O’Sullivan wished to comment on the above assertions.”

In response to his press query, Mr Clifford, the tribunal heard, was told that because of the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, Ms O’Sullivan couldn’t comment.

Of the May 13, 2016 article, Ms O’Sullivan told the tribunal it:

“.. published a particular line, and erroneous facts in terms of the O’Higgins Commission and proceedings at the O’Higgins Commission, which started what I can only describe as a vortex.”

Over the next two weeks there were swirling communications between Ms O’Sullivan, Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, and Ken O’Leary, from the Department of Justice, about both the Commissioner and the Minister for Justice’s response to the matter – but Ms O’Sullivan was adamant in her evidence to the tribunal that this wasn’t a co-ordinated response.

In addition, on Monday, May 16, 2016, Ms Fitzgerald and Ms O’Sullivan met and, according to the agenda of the meeting, they specifically discussed what happened at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, and Mr Clifford’s articles about the same.

The tribunal heard Ms O’Sullivan said of this meeitng:

I made it very clear to the Tánaiste at that meeting that what we were dealing with was a report in a newspaper which did not factually portray what had actually transpired at the O’Higgins Commission, and most certainly did not portray my position or my view.

“And on the basis of that, I felt very strongly, as I said earlier here, that it had become a very political issue, and that I, as a public servant and as Commissioner of An Garda Síochána was being put into a position where my role and the statutory position was being politicised in a way that was unacceptable to me. And I outlined to — insofar as I could, because even in my conversations with the Tánaiste, I was also very conscious of section 11 and the proceedings being private.

“But I outlined as broadly and as fully as I could within the constraints of that what the position was, and what had actually transpired at the proceedings and particularly my position in relation to Sergeant McCabe.”

The tribunal also heard that, two days later, on May 18, 2016, Ms O’Sullivan’s liaison officer at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation Chief Supt Fergus Healy was called into Garda HQ for a meeting to discuss what happened at O’Higgins.

In his evidence, he referred to being “grilled”.

On the same day, CS Healy created a report on the matter for Garda HQ which was also to be part of a briefing for the minister.

In it, CS Healy wrote about the meeting in Mullingar Garda station on August 25, 2008 – and repeated the so-called “error”.

Mr Healy wrote:

Inspector Cunningham was accompanied to this meeting by Sergeant Martin. Inspector Cunningham advised counsel that an ancillary but important issue arose at the meeting in that Sergeant McCabe advised Inspector Cunningham that the only reason he made the complaint against Superintendent Clancy was to force him to allow Sergeant McCabe to have the full DPP directions in respect of said investigation conveyed to him. Notes were taken.”

This was an initial draft and didn’t get sent.

In his final report, CS Healy wrote:

In the course of consultations, it transpired that the then-Inspector Cunningham had conducted an investigation wherein Sergeant McCabe had been involved. A meeting was held in Mullingar Garda Station with Inspector Cunningham and Sergeant McCabe by appointment on the 25th August 2008. Inspector Cunningham was accompanied to the meeting by Sergeant Yvonne Martin.

An ancillary but important issue arose at the meeting in Sergeant McCabe advised Inspector Cunningham that the only reason he made the complaint to Superintendent Cunningham was to force him to allow Sergeant McCabe to have full DPP directions in respect of the said investigation conveyed to him. 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 Rooney.

“In this regard and during the course of proceedings in pursuit of the truth and establishing the facts, while being fair and balanced to all witnesses, a submission was made by counsel for the Garda Commissioner to introduce to the Commission of Investigation the reasoning for Sergeant McCabe’s complaints in the first instance. Counsel for the Garda Commissioner was requested by the Commission of Investigation to set out a chronology of the issues pursued to assist the Commission of Investigation in establishing the facts.

“This request was complied with on 18th May 2015 when a document [CSS letter] was provided to the Commission of Investigation which included references to the meeting in Mullingar and ancillary matters recorded by Inspector Cunningham and agreed by Sergeant Martin arising at that meeting.

“The Commission of Investigation instructed counsel for the Garda Commissioner to provide to Sergeant McCabe’s counsel, Mr. McDowell, with a copy of the document. Following further discussions, the Commission of Investigation proceedings adjourned.

“It transpired that the Commission of Investigation had been provided with [as read] Sergeant McCabe with a tape recording of the meeting in Mullingar on 25th August 2008. The Commission of Investigation got a tape transcribed but declined to allow matters arising in relation to the ancillary issue concerning Sergeant McCabe to be discussed at the hearings.

“A discussion ensued as to what were the exact instructions of the Garda Commissioner. A heated exchange took place at the Commission of Investigation in this regard. Arising from the document provided to the Commission of Investigation, counsel for Sergeant McCabe argued that Sergeant McCabe’s character was under attack.

“The proceedings adjourned to confirm instructions. Counsel sought instructions as to tab B. Consequently, the Commissioner’s instructions were confirmed in line with those advised at the commencement of the Commission of Investigation and there the matter rested. However, on day 29, 4th November 2015, Judge O’Higgins sought clarification on the Commissioner’s instructions.

“Mr Colm Smyth, for the Garda Commissioner, clarified the position, which is contained in the transcript of day 29 of the hearings. It must be noted that counsel for the Garda Commissioner had no control of witnesses called to give evidence at the Commission of Investigation. That was a power that was laid solely within the remit of the Commission of Investigation. In addition, permission had to be obtained from the Commission of Investigation to cross-examine witnesses.”

Then the following day, May 19, 2016, it was decided that Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin would be referred to GSOC.

This decision was made at a meeting of the same day which was attended by Frances Fitzgerald, Frances Fitzgerald’s advisor Marion Mannion, Secretary General at the Department of Justice Noel Waters, Ken O’Leary, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and Deputy Commissioner John Twomey.

In a note of the meeting – which was given to the tribunal the day before it discussed it – it’s noted:

— said that the most appropriate place to allegation that two officers lied is GSOC

The tribunal heard, from Ms O’Sullivan, that it was Deputy Commissioner John Twomey who said this.

On May 20, 2016 the Garda Press Office made Ms O’Sullivan aware of further press queries from The Sunday Times, The Irish Examiner and Irish Independent, in relation to her instructions at the O’Higgins Commission .

On May 21, 2016 Ken O’Leary, from the Department of Justice, was emailing Ms O’Sullivan a draft letter from Ms O’Sullivan which was to be sent to the Department of Justice.

Later on May 21, 2016, the tribunal heard that Supt Noel Cunningham wrote to Ms O’Sullivan about the press matters, however the letter wasn’t read out to the tribunal.

Asked about this letter, Ms O’Sullivan said:

“Superintendent Cunningham was quite understandably upset and distraught at some of the material that had appeared in the public domain, which was a misrepresentation of his position also.”

It’s not known if or how Ms O’Sullivan responded to this correspondence from Supt Cunningham.

On May 22 and May 23, 2016, there were further drafts sent from Mr O’Leary to Ms O’Sullivan in relation to the report which was to be sent to Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald and to form the basis of her second public statement on the matter.

On May 24, 2016 Deputy Commissioner Twomey sent the draft again to Ms O”Sullivan with comments from Terry Prone. This time the draft was referred to as Last Chance Saloon.

Later that night, at 10.50pm, Mr Twomey sent what turned out to be the final version of the draft to Ms Prone, for her “comments and expertise”.

This letter – which eventually gave rise to Ms O’Sullivan second statement on the matter – was eventually sent to Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald on May 25, 2016.

It contained the line:

There has been a suggestion in recent reportage that two senior officers had sought to misrepresent before the Commission the contents of a meeting they had with a sergeant in Mullingar in 2008. In those circumstances and in order to resolve any public disquiet, misplaced or otherwise, which may arise, and in the interests of fairness to all involved we requested, pursuant to your powers within the Garda Síochána Act, that you refer that aspect to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission for the purposes of investigating it in the public interest.”

Of this letter, Ms O’Sullivan said:

This was a very important letter. I saw it probably as one of the most important letters that I had been required to write in my career, and I very much felt that my, my reputation, but also my position as Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, was very much dependent on it. It was very important that the Tánaiste would be as fully informed, as I said, as possible, and it was very important that we got the factual accuracy right.”

Ms O’Sullivan’s public statement – which was borne out of the letter to Ms Fitzgerald – was published on May 26, 2016.

It was through this statement that the public were told, for the first time, that Supt Cunningham and Sgt Martin – in respect of the the matter concerning the Mullingar meeting – were being referred to GSOC.

Given that Ms O’Sullivan told the tribunal that she understood the three matters pertaining to the DPPs directions to be simply errors, some might find it confusing that she went ahead and referred the two gardai to GSOC.

When questioned about the decision to refer both Supt Cunningham and Sgt Martin to GSOC, Kathleen Leader, BL for the tribunal, had the following exchange with Ms O’Sullivan, before Judge Charleton pressed Ms O’Sullivan further.

Leader: “Just finally, Ms O’Sullivan, in relation to the GSOC referral arising out of the O’Higgins Commission, did Chief Superintendent Healy not ever tell you that Sergeant Martin didn’t attend at the Commission, never gave evidence at the Commission, and he, in fact, had one telephone call whereupon he asked her was she available to give evidence?

O’Sullivan: “I don’t believe that we ever discussed it in detail, but the purpose of the referral was in the public interest, to ensure — so the allegation that was in the public domain was the fact that two members of An Garda Síochána, and we now know that Sergeant Martin actually, I note that she has corresponded with the Tribunal, but two members of An Garda Síochána had intended to perjure themselves at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, and my understanding is, that was the issue that we were referring to GSOC, along with, separately, some other issues that had been raised to us by another party who was in attendance at the Commission.”

Leader:But I think the issue was that people had perjured themselves, so do you not think maybe it was a bit severe to send Sergeant Martin to GSOC, via the Minister, when nobody had actually spoken to her about her evidence to the O’Higgins Commission?”

O’Sullivan: “Chairman, I am not aware that anybody was found to have perjured themselves at the O’Higgins Commission. That was certainly never brought to my attention.”

Leader: “The charge was in the public domain at that time?”

O’Sullivan: “Oh, yes, the charge in the public domain —

Leader: “Yes.”

O’Sullivan: “– was that — well, Chairman, if I can explain it like this: GSOC were set up to have independent oversight of investigating serious issues in relation to members of An Garda Síochána. I think I have attempted to explain to the Tribunal the position I found myself in at this time, nobody was going to accept my word that this was the case, and that was the fact of what I was facing to deal with, the appropriate mechanism to have these matters dealt with, in fairness to both Superintendent Cunningham and Sergeant Martin, to have their names cleared, so to speak.”


Charleton: “I mean, how could she be committing perjury as she had never even given evidence? I mean, it seems — I know that’s been reported, but newspapers — sorry, I beg your pardon, the paper won’t refuse ink, but, I mean, why compound that, is the question by Ms Leader?

O’Sullivan:It was completely erroneous, Chairman, but this was what was in the public domain and this was what was causing the political and public disquiet and this was what had been erroneously reported in a number of media outlets and this was what was in the public and political mind, and, as I say, the position I found myself in, if I were to say that Sergeant Martin, for example, hadn’t done something, actually I don’t think anybody was within the frame of mind.”

Charleton:If you had said she had never given evidence, I would imagine people might well have believed you.

O’Sullivan: “Not necessarily, Chairman, the position that we found ourselves in —

Charleton: “Well, then the second thing was, if you actually read her statement, and this has come up a number of times, but, well, you know, she may well have her rights, but this statement which she gave, which could perhaps have been, to use the now very popular word, deployed at the O’Higgins Commission, was completely backing up Sergeant McCabe

O’Sullivan: “Oh, completely.”

Charleton: ” — in relation to the Mullingar meeting, in the event that there was a misunderstanding about that.”

O’Sullivan: “Yes, completely, Chairman, and I think the unfortunate situation that everybody found themselves in, the erroneous facts and the distorted truths that were put into the public domain led to a situation which was completely unfair to everybody involved in this process from the outset…”


If it was Ms O’Sullivan’s belief that what the O’Higgins Commission was told about the Mullingar meeting was just an error, why did Ms O’Sullivan refer Supt Cunningham and Sgt Martin to GSOC?

Why didn’t she inform those present at the meeting on May 19 that, rather than a lie, it was simply a mistake?

Judge Charleton commented recently about the decision to refer the two gardai to GSOC, saying:

“That is something that I won’t understand until my dying day, particularly Sergeant Martin.”

Why did the Department of Justice ask the tribunal to inquire into an allegation it knew had never been made against Sergeant Maurice McCabe? (Katie Hannon, Sunday Business Post)

Previously: Disclosure Tribunal: Anomalies

mauriceScreen Shot 2017-03-01 at 12.01.13

From top: Maurice McCabe; Katie Hannon and David McCullagh on Prime Time last night

Last night.

On RTÉ’s Prime Time.

Prime Time‘s political correspondent Katie Hannon gave a further update on the allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe which are now being investigated by the Disclosures Tribunal, headed by Mr Justice Peter Charleton, of the Supreme Court.

Readers will recall how, in her original Prime Time report on the matter, on February 9, 2017, Ms Hannon explained the sequence of events that led to Sgt McCabe becoming the subject of a false allegation of child abuse in a Tusla file, due to a “clerical error”.

In her February 9 report, Ms Hannon reported that an email from May 2014 indicated the counsellor – after realising she made the serious error in a referral letter about Sgt McCabe to Tusla –

believed that the local superintendent, the superintendent in the relevant district, had been asked to meet the Garda Commissioner in relation to this case. And there was some anxiety that this superintendent hadn’t been brought up to date about the error in the file and it had to be sent to him immediately”

The Garda press office told Prime Time that Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan had no meeting with the superintendent in question in May, 2014 and did not request such a meeting.

Further to this, and having seen this email, Francesca Comyn, of The Sunday Business Post reported, on February 12, that the email from the counsellor to Tusla stated:

I had another call in relation to the retrospective report which as you are aware contains a clerical error. I was informed that the superintendent in the jurisdiction referred to in the report was not yet aware of the clerical error and has been asked to meet with the Garda Commissioner in relation to the case.”

Further to this…

From last night’s (2 mins and 25 second) report from Katie Hannon on Prime Time

David McCullagh: “The Disclosures Tribunal into allegations there was a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe is under way but it will be some time before public hearings commence. Before that, our political correspondent Katie Hannon joins us to clear up one key issue in relation to the revelation of a Tusla file containing false allegations of a serious sexual assault. Katie, what’s tonight’s story all about?”

Katie Hannon: “There’s two terms of reference, within the 16 terms of reference that Peter Charleton is going to be looking at, at this tribunal. One is to inquire whether this Tusla file was  knowingly used by senior members of An Garda Siochana to  discredit Sgt McCabe and another of the terms asks what the former and current Garda Commissioners [Martin Callinan and Noirin O’Sullivan] knew about these matters.”

“So, go back to that Tusla file. Questions have already been raised. I discussed it in this studio about an email that was in that file released to the McCabes which seemed to indicate that the Garda Commissioner had asked for a meeting way back in May 2014 – in relation to what was in that file. Now, we put this to the Garda Commissioner at the time and  she told us she had not requested that meeting, that meeting did not happen.”

McCullagh: “So, do we know what that email actually referred to?”

Hannon: “So, we now can say what that meeting, what that email referred to. I’ve now learned that the “commissioner” referred to in that email was actually the assistant commissioner for the northern region at the time, the former commissioner Kieran Kenny. According to an informed source, assistant commissioner Kenny met with the superintendent, the relevant superintendent that month, in May 2014 and, crucially, he sent a full report of this meeting to Garda Headquarters.

So, basically, the upshot of this is that we now know that, two and a half years ago, Garda Headquarters were made aware that there was this allegation of child rape recorded by Tusla against Sgt Maurice McCabe and also that it had been subsequently withdrawn and described as a clerical error.”

And the questions that will be raised, presumably at the tribunal will be: what did they do on foot of that? We know, for a fact, that they did not contact Maurice McCabe. In fact, I understand that Sgt McCabe has yet to have any contact from Garda Headquarters even since this whole story broke a short time ago. We asked the Garda Press Office about this, they said they were precluded from commenting because the tribunal is now up and running. We asked the Justice Minister [Frances Fitzgerald] if she’d been briefed about it and, again, she declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate because the tribunal has now commenced.”


In addition to reports of contact being made between the gardai and the counsellor after the discovery of the error, in May 2014, it has also been reported that there was at least an attempt by a Tusla social worker to contact a garda just after the false allegation/error was initially communicated by the counsellor to Tusla in August 2013.

Following an allegation made against Sgt McCabe in 2006, a file was sent to  the DPP – with the recommendation that there was no grounds for a prosecution – and that the DPP directed that no prosecution should be taken, with the observation that it was doubtful the allegations should constitute a crime at all.

In her original report on the matter, on February 9, Ms Hannon reported that, within days of the counsellor notifying Tusla of the false allegation – presumably without realising her referral contained a mistake/false allegation – a Tusla social worker contacted the garda who investigated the original 2006 complaint made against Sgt McCabe, to request a meeting.

However, it’s not known if that meeting took place.

Watch back in full here

Previously: Pasted In Error

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Katie Hannon and David McCullough on last night’s RTE Prime Time

Further to last week’s Prime Time in which Prime Time‘s political correspondent Katie Hannon outlined the sequence of events concerning how a false allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe ended up being circulated by Tusla.

Last night.

Ms Hannon had further information, after speaking with the solicitor of the woman at the centre of the original allegation made in 2006; and after speaking with someone who has seen the Tusla referral document which contained the false abuse allegation.

The new information, as presented by Ms Hannon, means there are now conflicting accounts of how events unfolded – as put forward by the HSE, and subsequently the Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil, Tusla, the Gardaí, and the solicitor for the woman at the centre of the original 2006 allegation.

The interview…

David McCullough: “Now, lest we forget all this political turmoil is the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe and the revelation last week by our political correspondent Katie Hannon of the false sex abuse allegations made against him. As Katie told us, last week, those allegations in 2013 arose after a counsellor said she pasted the allegation from another file in error. Katie joins me now. There is a tribunal of inquiry to look into this and related matters. But, in advance of that, the department of justice has written to the Garda Commissioner posing six questions that the McCabes want answered, relating to: when the Gardai first learned about the allegations, about contacts between gardai and the supposed victim and contacts between gardai and the counsellor. And Katie, you have some new information about this?”

Katie Hannon: “Yes. Of course, a huge amount of focus has focussed on this referral from this counsellor that had this, what was described as this clerical error, this cut and paste error. Now, I’ve spoken with somebody who’s actually seen this document. We haven’t seen this document because it wasn’t released to the McCabes in the Tusla file because it had been retrieved because of data protection by the counselling service.”

“But, according to my source, what the counsellor is now telling the management there is that: what actually happened there was not a cut and paste error. She was actually using the template of a previous referral and typing over it, with this new McCabe referral and failed to delete some information referring to the previous referral. So it wasn’t a ‘pasting in’ error, it was a ‘failure to delete’ error. And she says that she just simply did not notice that before she sent on the referral [to Tusla].”

“Now, according to the person that I was talking to, who has seen it, it should have been obvious to anyone looking at it that there was a mistake in it because, I’m told, there actually was the names of two alleged abusers on the file that went over. Like the phrase that was used to me was: it would have jumped off the page. So, why that happened in Tusla when were then using this document to create the other files, the referrals, the files on the [McCabe] children, that’s the question that remains now.”

McCullough: “There’s been a lot of focus on how this error was ultimately discovered.”

Hannon: “Yes, and I’ve confirmed today that the girl at the centre of this, who made the original allegation back in 2006, she has given an account of how this happened that does not tally with the account that the Health Minister Simon Harris put on the Dáil record this week.”

McCullough: “And in what way is it different?”

Hannon: “Well, first of all, Minister Harris told the Dail that, and he was using information that he got from the HSE, he said that the girl had contacted the counsellor to say that the allegation of digital rape was incorrect, that she had never made it and that’s how the mistake came to light. That’s what the Dáil was told.”

“But I spoke to the girl’s solicitor today and he tells me that that is not the case. He says that, this is the sequence of events: the girl’s mother made the initial appointment, for her, with this counsellor. She attended just once. She had no idea that a referral had gone to Tusla as a result of this one counselling session, until many months later, her family were contacted by the guards and they were asked to attend to the Garda station about this allegation. Her parents went to the Garda station, looked at this, were presented with the allegation and said immediately: this is not our daughter’s allegation, this was never made.”

“And according to the girl’s solicitor, this was the last that she had to do with it, that she, whoever contacted the counsellor, it wasn’t her.”

“And also, what this does is it raises questions about when the gardai first were aware of this mistake. We know that Tusla sent them the file in early May. According to this account, from this girl’s solicitor, the guards were informed that it was incorrect, there was a mistake in it, by the 4th or 5th of May and that’s not what the rest of the files show…”

McCullough: “What does the Tusla file say?”

Hannon: “Yeah, the Tusla file says that the first contact with the garda was the original investigating guard that investigated the 2006 complaint – that was done back in August 2013. We don’t know what came of that, if the meeting took place. We know that Tusla contacted the guards with the referral in early May. We know that they were told about the referral, from the counsellor, on the 14th of May [2014] and then they say, the file says they contacted the guards one or two days after that.”

McCullough: “Ok, so very, very briefly, we already have conflicting accounts here?”

Hannon: “We do, we’ve two serious conflicts. We’ve a conflict between the account that the minister [for health] gave the Dail this week to what the client says as regards when we found out about the error and there are other conflicts about when the guards knew about it in the first place and when the guards knew this second allegation was a mistake. So, you know, the attempt or demand for the answers to these six questions might be trickier I think than we think.”

McCullough: “Hence, the tribunal, ok, Katie, thank you very much.”

Watch back in full here

Previously: Pasted In Error

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Last night.

On RTÉ One’s Prime Time.

Reporter Katie Hannon (top) outlined the sequence of events that lead to Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe being falsely accused of sexually abusing a child – a false allegation that was circulated by Tusla.

Ms Hannon explained:

January 2006: Sgt Maurice McCabe made a serious complaint against a colleague which resulted in a sanction being imposed on that colleague – according to a document prepared for the O’Higgins’ Commission of Investigation in 2016 by the chief state solicitor’s office.

December 2006: This colleague made a complaint about Sgt McCabe on behalf of his daughter. The daughter subsequently made a statement in which she alleged that about ten years previously, when she was around six years old, she had been playing hide and seek with Maurice McCabe and his two eldest children at their home. She said when Sgt McCabe found her, he tickled her and pressed up against her in an inappropriate manner. The allegation was investigated and a file was sent to the DPP with the recommendation that there was no grounds for a prosecution. The DPP directed that no prosecution should be taken – with the observation that it was doubtful the allegations should constitute a crime at all.

August, 2013: A counsellor notified Tusla that a client she was counselling had disclosed that she had experienced one incident of sexual abuse during childhood by Sgt McCabe. This client was supposedly the same girl who made the statement in 2006. But details of the alleged abuse had changed. According to the counsellor’s report, it was said to have involved digital penetration – vaginal and anal. Within days of being told about the allegation, a social worker contacted the original investigating garda to request a meeting about the case. It’s not known if the meeting took place. But a formal Garda notification form, setting out the detail of the allegation, was not sent to the superintendent in charge in the relevant district until May 2 – eight months later. Sgt McCabe was not told that the Tusla files containing an allegation that he had abused a child.

Supt Dave Taylor, former head of the Garda Press Office, would later (in May/June 2016) tell Sgt McCabe that he was told to spread this allegations through texts, etc., to gardai, journalists and others. In a protected disclosure, he said he was told to do this by senior Garda management and that the then deputy Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was kept fully briefed of the campaign at all times – a claim she has rejected.

January, 2014: The then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, accompanied by the then deputy Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, during which Mr Callinan made the infamous ‘disgusting’ comment about Garda whistleblowers Maurice McCabe and John Wilson.

Shortly after this, Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness, who was then chair of the Public Accounts Committee, claims he was privately contacted by Mr Callinan and met him in a car park on the Naas Road. During their conversation, Mr Callinan told Mr McGuinness that Sgt McCabe could not be trusted.

March 25, 2014: Mr Callinan resigned from his position as Garda Commissioner.

April 2014: Tusla opened separate files on Sgt McCabe’s four children – all of which included the allegation that Sgt McCabe was alleged to have abused a six-year-old girl and that the abuse involved both vaginal and anal penetration.

May 14, 2014: The counsellor contacted Tusla to say she had made an administrative error in her report to Tusla. In turn, a Tusla email states: ‘The line that ‘this abuse involves digital penetration, both vaginal and anal’ is an error and should not be in the referral. It is, in fact, a line from another referral on another adult that has been pasted in error. The counsellor has apologised and is sending us an amended report asap’.

Within minutes of receiving this report, the social worker released an instruction that the garda notification be amended immediately and the relevant superintendent be notified of the same. The amended garda notification was sent to the relevant superintendent in charge, saying that an earlier report from this counsellor contained an administrative error. The notification said there had been an allegation of a single incident of sexual abuse, stating: ‘At the time of the incident, both the girl and the alleged were fully clothed and the incident involved inappropriate contact’.

An email indicates that, within days of the ‘error’ being discovered, the counsellor believed that the local superintendent of the relevant district had been asked to meet the Garda Commissioner in relation to this case. And there was some anxiety that this superintendent hadn’t been brought up to date about the error in the file and it had to be sent to him immediately. In a statement from the Garda Press Office to Prime Time about this, saying, “Commissioner O’Sullivan had no meeting with the superintendent in question in May, 2014 and did not request such a meeting. No such meeting has ever taken place between Commissioner O’Sullivan and that superintendent.”

December 29, 2015: A child protection social worker wrote to Sgt McCabe saying Tusla was investigating an allegation of abuse against him from the 1990s and that the abuse included digital penetration. He was invited to a meeting to discuss the allegations. It was the first time Sgt McCabe had heard of the allegation. He responded, via his solicitor, stating the allegation was ‘wholly untrue’ and set out the circumstances behind the original, entirely different, allegation and the DPP’s finding that it was doubtful the allegations constituted a crime at all.

June 20, 2016: The same social worker from Tusla responded, stating the agency was obliged to assess the allegations but conceded ‘I apologise that a mistake was made in my previous correspondence. I can confirm to you that no allegation of digital penetration had been made in relation to your client.’

January 10, 2017: After requesting copies of every Tusla records about him and his family, Sgt McCabe received a thick file of the various, incorrect notifications to the gardai.

The files also show that the girl who made the statement in 2006 had told Tusla that she did not wish to – last August –  to pursue the matter any further.

January 27, 2017: The chief operations officer of Tusla wrote to the Secretary General of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs acknowledging that ‘mistakes were made in the management of this matter’ and saying that he had ‘instituted a case review internal to Tusla’. It also stated: ‘I regret that the management of this case did not reach the high standard we have set for the service and it is out intention to issue a full formal apology to Mr McCabe for the failings’. The McCabe family are still awaiting this apology.

Watch back in full here

Maurice McCabe: False sex abuse claim by Tusla destroyed my family (Michael Clifford, Irish Examiner)

Previously: Unspeakable Allegations

The Thin Blue Timeline [Updated]


Meanwhile, readers will recall how on Wednesday, the terms of reference for the commission of investigation into claims of an orchestrated smear campaign against Sgt McCabe within the gardai and with the knowledge of Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, were published.

These terms of reference state that the commission of investigation must look at the circulation of an allegation of criminal misconduct made against Sgt McCabe by Supt Dave Taylor and to find out what former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan knew about it and when they knew about it.

However, there is no mention of the allegation itself being investigated.

It’s also emerged that the terms of reference were published after Sgt Maurice McCabe met with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone two weeks ago. Tusla is under Ms Zappone’s remit.

This morning, Sean Costello, solicitor for Sgt Maurice McCabe, spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTE One and they had the following exchange:

Sean O’Rourke: “Has sergeant McCabe met Minister Zappone?”

Sean Costello: “I believe that he has.”

O’Rourke: “Well I suppose the answer suggests you were not at that meeting.”

Costello: “No.”

O’Rourke: “Right. Do you know anything about it or how he got on?”

Costello: “I’m afraid I don’t.”

O’Rourke: “Or when it took place?”

Costello: “It would have been close to two weeks ago.”

O’Rourke: “Was he in anyway assured or reassured by her?”

Costello: “Well I think that, after the meeting, he was happy that he had been met by the minister but yes, it was a case of the minister receiving the information that was being given by Maurice and Lorraine McCabe in relation to the matters that transpired once they received the Tusla file [in January 2017].”


Listen back here


Irish Water protesters outside the GPO in Dublin on June 20, 2015

This morning, the Irish Independent‘s environment editor Paul Melia reports that Irish Water will need approximately €300million from the State to make up the cost of suspending water charges.

He also reported that Irish Water is to rerun its public information campaign to “convince” people to pay.

Mr Melia spoke to Katie Hannon earlier on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show.

From their discussion.

Katie Hannon: “According to documents seen by the Irish Independent, as the phrase goes, the Government has been informed that Irish Water is going to require almost €300million to compensate for the suspension of water charges. The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government said the shortfall would be made up for in 2016 but haven’t announced their intentions for the next two years. Additionally, Irish Water believes that it is going to have to launch an enormous and costly campaign to convince the public of the need to pay for water services if charges are re-introduced after March of next year when the current period of suspension will have run its course. Paul Melia, environment correspondent for the Irish Independent has been writing about this and he joins me on the line now. Paul, welcome.”

Paul Melia: “Thank you.”

Hannon: “Almost €300million is what you’re saying the cost will be upfront. Can you break that figure down for me?”

Melia: “Certainly, these are financial projections that were provided by Irish Water to the department in June and what they’re saying is that, for 2016, there’s going to be a revenue shortfall of €123million or so. Now this figure isn’t new, we know this figure and that’s basically because charges are going to be suspended, have been suspended for the second half of the year. So, Irish Water says this is the cash shortfall we’re going to have. Now, the Government has said that they will make up that difference and, you might recall, there was a water conservation grant last year which cost €110million. This shortfall of €123million – there’s a gap there of somewhere of €13million, up to €20million that the Exchequer will be able for this year. So that’s all been addressed and sorted out. There’s no funding issue for this year. Where it gets interesting is that Irish Water has come up with two scenarios. A scenario if billing returns next year and a scenario of no billing returns. And what they have said to the department is: if billing resumes from the second quarter of next year, which is expected, or sorry, that’s when a decision will be made, there will still be a revenue shortfall of about €125million now this is because there will be no billing for the first three months, so there’s about €65million or so missing there. And then, also, the balance is made up of they believe that people just won’t pay, that they’re going to have to go back and re-engage with householders and say to them: ‘look, we’re Irish Water, this is the job that we have to do and this is how we have to pay for it’. So, their public information campaign starts all over again.”

Hannon: “And tell me Paul, before I let you go any further, remind people how much has already been spent on convincing people that they need to pay for water?”

Melia: “Well I mean there’s been two, certainly in May, there was a report, Irish Water had spent about €350,000 on outside public relations, this was on top of their fully-staffed press office which I think has three people in it. And then there was an expensive advertising campaign last year as well which talked about basically how water came from the clouds to the tap essentially, that cost about €650,000 or so. So there’s about €1million all in, there’s probably more than that. But that’s certainly, more or less, what’s been spent to date. So, they’re talking about rerunning a lot of that stuff again. If the charges come back in…

Hannon: “Of course, just to stop you there again, ‘if’ is a very big if there, isn’t it? Because certainly the political temperature would indicate that that is a very big if.”

Melia: “It certainly is. I mean I think more than 100 TDs in the Dáil are opposed to water charges in any way shape or form and this expert commission that the Government has established, that’s meant to look at the long-term funding model for Irish Water, in other words, how will the day-to-day operations, which cost in or around €1billion a year, plus the capital expenditure programme be funded. They’re due to report back at the end of March of next year. And then they will recommendations with the Dáil committee. That Dáil committee then will examine that and it will make recommendations to the Dáil itself and it will be put to a vote. So TDs will ultimately decide whether or not domestic water charges are reintroduced or whether they’re abolished permanently. As you said, the political temperature at this stage certainly is that they’re not going to be reintroduced.

Listen back in full here

Irish Water needs €300m to make up for loss of charges (Irish Independent)


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RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds on RTÉ’s Six One earlier this evening

Earlier this evening.

RTÉ crime correspondent Paul Reynolds reported that he obtained new documents in relation to the exchanges between Garda Commissioner’s senior counsel Colm Smyth and Judge Kevin O’Higgins during the Commission of Investigation into Sgt Maurice McCabe’s complaints.

Mr Reynolds reported that the documents show Mr Smyth told the judge he was instructed, by the Commissioner, to challenge the ‘motivation and credibility’ of Sgt Maurice McCabe.

This, Mr Reynolds reported, was because Ms O’Sullivan had to consider the welfare of all of the gardai not just Sgt McCabe.

Grab a tay.

Mary Wilson: “Paul Reynolds, what’s going on?”

Paul Reynolds: “Well. OK. This controversy began last week when it was reported that the Garda Commissioner’s legal team was going to claim that Sgt Maurice McCabe was motivated by malice. This was in marked contrast to the Commissioner’s public statements in support of the Garda whistleblower.”

“Now we have seen documents today which show that, early in the Commission’s hearings, the Commissioner’s senior counsel said that, quote, his instructions from the Commissioner were to challenge the integrity of Sgt Maurice McCabe. Now the judge put that issue to one side, so if you can think of that as an earlier hearing.”

Wilson: “OK.”

Reynolds: “And that was brought up later in the proceedings in the hearings of the Commission. In fact, just before the Garda Commissioner was due to give evidence. Now. The Garda Commissioner came in to give evidence and the judge sought clarification on this issue.”

“Now the Commissioner’s senior counsel then told Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins that, quote, my instructions at all times were to challenge the motivation and credibility of Sgt Maurice McCabe.”

Senior counsel Colm Smyth also said that it was on an error on my part when he said, earlier, that his instructions had been to challenge the integrity of Sgt McCabe.

“So he said that he made a mistake at the earlier hearing when he said he was challenging his integrity. But he said they were going to challenge Sgt McCabe’s motivation and credibility.”

“But, specifically, they were going to challenge his motivation and credibility in relation to his allegations of corruption and malpractice. Now you know that, sorry, we know that Sgt McCabe made serious allegations of corruption against five senior officers including the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.”

“So, the Garda Commissioner’s legal team was going to challenge his motivation and credibility in relation to this. Senior counsel for the Garda Commissioner told the judge that Sgt McCabe had, quote, alleged corruption on the grand scale against the five senior officers and that he had been invited to withdraw the allegations of corruption against Martin Callinan but he had refused to do so.”

“Now, as we know, the commission’s report came out last week and found there was no evidence to substantiate any of the allegations of corruption against any of the gardaí and not a scintilla of evidence to support Sgt McCabe’s allegations of corruption against the Commissioner.”

“So the Garda Commissioner’s senior counsel also pointed out the reason why he was challenging the motivation and credibility of Sgt McCabe on these points, he said he was doing this on behalf of Nóirín O’Sullivan because she had to consider the welfare of all of the gardai not just Sgt McCabe. She had a concern for his welfare and his concerns, but she also had a concern for the other officers, the other officers against whom the allegations were made. They were also under her control and, quote, that she had to hold the balance.”

Wilson: “Ok, a lot of detail there, Paul, if we pick our way through it, I take it you’ve had sight of certain material. We know that other material that other reporters had sight of has made its way into the newspapers.”

“At this stage, without challenging the rights and wrongs of either sets of documents that you’ve all seen and what they say or don’t say, how is this going to be all cleared up, once and for all? Does it require the commission chairman to come out and make a clear statement?”

“Because we’re talking here, not about the evidence, if I’m correct, but about the case that’s being set out by the lawyers. A lawyer would come into a courtroom or before a commission and say, the case I’m going to make is this, they set out their stall.”

“So does it require the commission chairman to make a statement, to clarify it for once and for all, or does it require the lawyers to come out and clarify for once and for all about what went on?”

Reynolds: “Well, these documents are essentially clarification documents and they do tend to clarify it because if you look, just to go further, in relation to that allegation of malice – and that’s the one that’s been subsuming people and politicians over the last week – Colm Smyth, the senior counsel for the Garda Commissioner told the judge that the Commissioner never claimed that Sgt McCabe was motivated by malice and he said, ‘I never used the words mala fides’. He said, ‘those were the words that in the first instance came from Mr McDowell’, that’s Michael McDowell, senior counsel who was representing Maurice McCabe, his legal representative.”

“He also said that the word ‘malice’ was introduced, or the words mala fides were introduced by yourself, the judge, in interpreting what my instructions were. So he said that the Garda, that he never used the word malice or mala fides and neither did…he never used them on behalf of the Commissioner, the words were used by the judge and by Michael McDowell, who was representing Maurice McCabe.”

Wilson: “But then, sorry, Paul, just to be clear. Colm Smyth we’re talking about here, the senior counsel, what was he going in to clarify when he went back before the commission then?”

Reynolds: “You see what happened was, at this later hearing, the judge read a transcript to Colm Smyth from the earlier hearing. And at the earlier hearing the word ‘malice’ was used twice by the judge when he put the transcript, the earlier transcript to the senior counsel, and the senior counsel.”

“And the senior counsel in the transcript of the earlier hearing replied, ‘so be it, that is the position judge’. However the issue had been left to one side so this later hearing clarifies that when the judge reads the transcript back to Colm Smyth and he says, the senior counsel on behalf of the Garda Commissioner, he clarifies this by saying, ‘I never used the words mala fides’ and after he clarifies it, the senior counsel for the Commission, Sean Gillane stands up and says, ‘let me clarify this’ and he says, quote, “no case was being made that Sgt McCabe either lacks integrity or acted mala fides in bringing his complaints”.”

Wilson: “OK”

Reynolds: “So he clarifies it and the judge accepts this and he says, oh, this clarifies the position, and the judge’s final word in the exchange is, ‘good, well that is clarified’ so the judge accepts the bona fides of Colm Smyth acting on behalf of the Garda Commissioner and accepts the clarification and Noirin O’Sullivan then gives her evidence.”

Right so.

Listen back in full here

Previously: No Absence Of Malice


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Katie Hannon and David McCullagh on RTÉ’s Prime Time tonight

Meanwhile, also earlier tonight, journalist Katie Hannon revealed sections of transcripts from the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in May and November, on RTÉ’s Prime Time.

The following are the sections reported by Ms Hannon:

Colm Smyth SC: “I have instructions from the Commissioner, Judge. This is an inquiry dealing with allegations of malpractice and corruption on a grand scale by members of An Garda Siochana.”

Judge Kevin O’Higgins: “No. This part of the inquiry…”

Smyth: “I appreciate that but my instructions are to challenge the integrity of Sgt McCabe and his motivation.”

O’Higgins: “The integrity?”

Smyth: “His motivation and his credibility in mounting these allegations of corruption and malpractice.”

O’Higgins: “…An attack on somebody’s credibility and his motivation or integrity is something that really doesn’t form part of this inquiry. It would be necessary for you to go further and say that the complaints and the actions of Sgt McCabe were motivated by… that is motivation was dishonest or wrong.”

O’Higgins: “…In other words that he made these allegations not in good faith but because he was motivated by malice, by some such motive and that impinges on his integrity. If those are your instructions from the Commissioner, so be it.”

Smyth: “So be it. That is the position judge.”

O’Higgins: “Those are your…”

Smyth: “Yes. As the evidence will demonstrate judge…[later] this isn’t something I’m pulling out of the sky, judge, I mean I can only acting on instructions.


O’Higgins: “But you are attacking his motivation and you are attacking his integrity?”

Smyth: “Right the way through.”

O’Higgins: “Full stop.”

Smyth: “Yes. Full stop.”


Smyth: “My instructions are reconfirmed.”

O’Higgins: “Very good. Your instructions as I understand them are that Sgt McCabe acted as he did for improper motives.”

Smyth: “Yeah.”

O’Higgins: “Okay and that his integrity is being challenged in that respect.”

Smyth: “In that respect.”

O’Higgins: “Okay, fine. So be it.”

Later in November, on the day Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is due to give evidence – by which time Sgt McCabe had produced a transcript of his meeting in Mullingar with two gardaí

Smyth: “As far as the Commissioner was concerned at all stages I had instructions to challenge Sgt McCabe in relation to motivation and credibility.”

O’Higgins: “And integrity?”

Smyth: “No. There was no mention of integrity.”


Smyth: “…that is an error on my part.”

O’Higgins: “Well that is the clarification I sought. So the position now is that his motive is under attack, credibility is under attack from the Commissioner. But not his integrity.”

Smyth: “Just to be clear about it. The credibility in so far as he made these allegations of corruption and malpractice. There is no question about that.”


Smyth: “Judge, the Commissioner has a duty of care to all members. She wasn’t acquiescing. She has to hold the balance between, on the one part she has Sgt McCabe who she has a concern for and his welfare and on the other hand she has a concern for the Superintendents who are under her control. She has to hold the balance. She cannot come down on the side of Sgt McCabe and say I agree with everything he says without challenge.”

Watch Prime Time back in full here

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From RTÉ’s Prime Time last night

You may recall the independent review panel set up by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in July 2014, following the publication of the Guerin Report which looked at allegations made by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

The purpose of the panel is to investigate allegations of Garda misconduct, crime and cover-up and to ascertain if further investigations are needed.

Some of the cases involve the deaths of individuals.

Last night, on Prime Time, political correspondent for RTÉ’s Current Affairs Department Katie Hannon presented a report on the work of the panel.

She explained:

320 cases were ultimately accepted for review. 17 months later, 152 families have received a response to their complaints. The Justice Department would not confirm what was in those responses, saying the minister will issue a comprehensive statement when the process is complete. However, we know that, of the first 120 cases reviewed, the panel recommended that no further action was warranted in 105 cases. Just nine cases were referred to GSOC for investigation while the minister sought a report from the Garda Commissioner in six other cases.”

During her report, Ms Hannon also looked closely at six cases – the deaths of Patrick Nugent, 23, who died in February 1984; Adrian Moynihan, aged 23, who died in March 2001; Shane Tuohey, 23, who died in February 2002; Catherine Davis, 35, who died June 2007; John Kelly, 24, who died October 2008; and Shane O’Farrell, 23, who died August 2011.

The families of all these people are not satisfied with the review panel.

In her report, Ms Hannon tried to find out exactly what information the review panel is reviewing.

It wasn’t an easy task, as Ms Hannon discovered.

Ms Hannon explained that, in July 2015, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald had told the Dáil that the panel has access to information from the gardaí and GSOC.

On foot of this, Ms Hannon said, some families contacted GSOC to ask if it had made files pertaining to their cases available to the review panel.

But GSOC responded saying it didn’t because,

The independent review mechanism is a non-statutory mechanism and, as such, it is not entitled to request or receive from GSOC files and documentation relating to complaints made to GSOC.”

In turn, Ms Hannon asked the Justice Department if the panel had the authority to access the Garda files.

The department responded by saying,

The Gardaí fully co-operated with requests for information in connections with the cases referred to the panel.”

Ms Hannon asked again, repeatedly, if the panel had access to the Garda files.

She reported:

A spokesman for the minister declined to say and pressed he would only repeat the Gardaí fully co-operated with requests for information.”

Furthermore, Ms Hannon explained that, also in July 2015, Minister Fitzgerald told the Dáil that the panel had asked for additional information from the families. Ms Fitzgerald told the Dáil that further information was given by families in more than 200 cases.

However, the Justice4All group says it’s not aware that the panel asked any family for further information.

In fact, Ms Hannon reported, the family of Shane Tuohey were turned away when they tried to give the panel further information. The new information was based on CCTV tapes that turned up after the family was originally told they were missing.

The panel told the family,

“The examination of any evidence in the context of a criminal investigation is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner.

It should also be noted that the panel did not hear any oral evidence.

Watch back in full here

Previously: The Thin Blue Timeline [Updated]

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From top: A cartoon by Wendy Shea which was the subject of Ireland’s only blasphemy case ever taken, cartoonist Wendy Shea; writer and chair of Atheist Ireland, Michael Nugent; and Eamon de Valera kissing the ring of then Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid

Last night on Prime Time, RTÉ’s political correspondent for the current affairs department, Katie Hannon, recalled how, 19 years ago, a cartoon by Wendy Shea was the source of the only blasphemy case ever taken in Ireland.

Her illustration – of the then three Government party leaders, Prionsias De Rossa, of Democratic Left; Ruairi Quinn, of Labour; and John Bruton, of Fine Gael, waving goodbye to a priest who appears to be giving out communion – accompanied an article in the Sunday Independent about the divorce referendum.

A carpenter from Harold’s Cross in Dublin sued the Sunday Independent for blasphemous libel and the case went to the Supreme Court.

During Prime Time, Mr Nugent told Ms Hannon:

“In 1937, the new constitution made blasphemy an offence that’s in accordance with law and that punishment was put in place by Charles Haughey in 1961 in the Defamation Act, which made blasphemy an offence for which you could be jailed, in fact. During that, he refused to define what blasphemy was and he was challenged to say, well what does the offence consist of. And he said ‘blasphemy is what everyone knows that it is’. But that turned out to be the flaw in the law because the only time that it was tested in court, the courts found that it was unenforceable precisely because there was no definition of the offence.”

In 2009, former Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, then defined blasphemy in the Defamation Act 2009, thus making it enforceable.

Mr Nugent continued:

“There hasn’t been a case taken but there has been what’s called the chilling effect of self-censorship that media outlets will be concerned about, possibly running into a €25,000 fine which they can’t afford. I know that I’ve been told, before several live interviews, ‘make sure you don’t say anything blasphemous’. I know several comedy writers who have had sketches dropped from shows. Ireland is the only state to have passed a new blasphemy law in the 21s century and the Islamic states of the United Nations, in trying to spread their blasphemy laws and anti-[inaudible] laws throughout the world have cited the wording of the Irish law as best practice for what they want implemented internationally.”

The Constitutional Convention has recommended the removal of blasphemy from the constitution and the Government has announced that a referendum should take place. However, a Justice Department spokesperson told Ms Hannon:

“The referendum will take place at an appropriate date to be decided by Government after the necessary further consultations have been completed and the required legislation has been prepared.”

Watch back in full here from 16.04