Tag Archives: Maurice McCabe


Tweets last night about the Blogging Unveiled controversy from John Mooney, an investigative journalist with The Sunday Times.

The last line in the second tweet is reference to Mr Mooney and his paper’s role in the Maurice McCabe saga.

And barely-veiled criticism of those who confirmed the source of negative and dishonest briefings about the Garda whistleblower.


Good times.


Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

They Are Laughing At You

From top: Lorraine and Maurice McCabe; Cathal McMahon and John Kierans

Cathal McMahon worked as a crime reporter with the Irish Mirror between July 2012 and June 2014 – roughly the same period of time that Supt Dave Taylor was the head of the Garda Press Office.

He told the Disclosures Tribunal that sometime in early 2014 – and most likely in January or February 2014 – he was told by a source that Sgt Maurice McCabe had been investigated over an allegation of child sex abuse in the Cavan area and that “the allegation was historic in nature”.

Mr McMahon didn’t identify this source to the tribunal.

But he confirmed it was neither Supt Taylor, the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan or the then Deputy Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

He also confirmed it wasn’t any member of An Garda Síochána.

Asked what he did with this information, Mr McMahon said:

“I then contacted Superintendent Dave Taylor, who was at the time the Press Officer, and he confirmed the story as I had given it to him, and the only addition was that he suggested that maybe I should go to Cavan and find further details there.”

Mr McMahon said Supt Taylor – whom he contacted directly by phone – didn’t direct him to go to anyone in particular in Cavan and Mr McMahon didn’t ask him to point to anyone in particular.

He said he was “dubious” about the allegation because “obviously if the allegation was true, it would have been investigated, he may have been brought before the courts”.

He said he wasn’t aware of the outcome of the investigation into Ms D’s complaint and that he and Supt Taylor did not discuss the DPP’s directions regarding Ms Ds complaint.

Mr McMahon said, after speaking with Supt Taylor, he thought the next prudent step was to talk to his editor John Kierans – whom, Mr McMahon said, told him he didn’t feel it was a story worth pursuing. Mr McMahon said he was satisfied with this response.

But the tribunal heard Mr Kierans – in a statement to the tribunal, before he gave evidence – say that he thought Mr McMahon was “disappointed” with this response.

When this was put to Mr McMahon, he said that wasn’t his memory of what happened.

Mr McMahon told the tribunal about his interaction with Supt Taylor in June 2018, after his former editor John Kierans first told the tribunal of the matter in the same month.

Similarly to other journalists, the tribunal wrote to Mr McMahon in March and April 2017 – but “no substantial reply” was received.

When Mr McMahon was asked why he didn’t tell the tribunal about this encounter with Supt Taylor from the outset, Mr McMahon said:

“I sought legal counsel at the time, and I was taken to believe that my evidence didn’t fall within the terms of reference of the Tribunal. I obviously had serious concerns about the protection of sources, as a number of colleagues in other newspapers have raised.

“I didn’t write anything about this story. I never pursued the story outside a very short conversation. I wasn’t negatively briefed about Sergeant McCabe by any of the people mentioned as part of the terms of reference of this Tribunal. And I also wasn’t named by Superintendent Dave Taylor as one of the 11 journalists he said he had negatively briefed.”

Mr McMahon wasn’t named by Supt Taylor when he initially claimed to have negatively briefed nine journalists – Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent; Paul Reynolds, of RTE; John Mooney, of The Sunday Times; Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star; Juno McEnroe, of the Irish Examiner; Cormac O’Keeffe, of the Irish Examiner; Daniel McConnell, of the Irish Examiner; Conor Lally, of The Irish Times and John Burke, of RTE – about Sgt McCabe.

He later added two – Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, and Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun – after the D family told the tribunal that the two journalists had separately called to their house in early 2014 – in an attempt to talk about Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

None of these journalists confirmed Supt Taylor’s claim that he negatively briefed them, and Mr McMahon also told the tribunal that Supt Taylor never negatively briefed him.

But in relation to this position, that he wasn’t negatively briefed by Supt Taylor, Mr McMahon had this exchange with Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal.

Leader: “You say you weren’t negatively briefed about Sergeant McCabe, but at the same time you’re saying you did speak to Superintendent Taylor in relation to the D allegation, as it is referred to here, and he pointed you in a particular direction. Do you consider that negatively briefing?

McMahon: “It was a direction I already knew. He was merely repeating what I had already said to him — in terms of the location of where the allegation had come from.”

Leader: “Right. But, for instance, Superintendent Taylor could say, look, there’s nothing to that and leave it at that, instead of pointing you in a particular direction, maybe — maybe it does actually constitute negative briefing, pointing you in a particular direction, hinting that you should take the story a bit further, do you see that now, with the benefit of hindsight?

McMahon: “I’m not quite sure what you are asking, sorry.”

Judge Peter Charleton then attempted to tease out Ms Leader’s question for Mr McMahon when they had the following exchange:

Charleton: “In other words, counsel’s question, as I understand it, is this: You hear a rumour, then you go to someone who is expected to know whether the rumour
is true or not, but the person then confirms the rumour, and added on to that is, well, what I would take as an invitation to go and look into the matter further and the place you need to look into it is indeed the area you mentioned. That is counsel’s question.”

Leader: “Yes.”

Charleton: “So that –”

McMahon: “Are you asking me if I should have come forward sooner?”

Charleton: “No, I think — I know what counsel is actually asking you is, I suppose, the definition of negative briefing, do you see that as being helpful to Sergeant McCabe or not helpful to Sergeant McCabe? If it was you they were talking about –”

McMahon: “I understand.”

Charleton: “– that there was an historical allegation of sex abuse, that it happened in relation to a child, if they went to your editor and if they asked the question, look, is it true what they say about this fellow, and the editor confirmed it, yes, and furthermore, if you want to find out more, the place to go is Drumcondra, where this thing happened, counsel is asking you how would you feel about that?”

McMahon: “Yes, I understand.”

Leader: “Yes.”

McMahon: “So are you asking me to say if I feel like I should have taken different steps?”

Leader: “Well, no, do you think now, having heard it explained to you in those terms, that that constitutes negative briefing?”

McMahon: “I don’t believe I was negatively briefed.”

It was also put to Mr McMahon by John Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, that because Supt Taylor didn’t set him straight on the Ms D allegation – that that was a form of negative briefing.

Mr McMahon accepted that that was Mr Ferry’s view.

Mr Ferry also told Mr McMahon that Supt Taylor maintained that Mr McMahon was a journalist whom he negatively briefed about Sgt McCabe at crime scenes and during phone conversations.

But Mr McMahon maintained that this was not correct and that they only had the one interaction about Sgt McCabe, referred to above.

Mr Ferry also put it to Mr McMahon that it was Supt Taylor’s case that Mr McMahon didn’t go to Supt Taylor about Sgt McCabe and Ms D but, instead, Supt Taylor briefed Mr McMahon.

Mr McMahon said: “That is simply not true.

And in regards to Mr McMahon’s claim that Supt Taylor directed him to Cavan, Mr Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, said Supt Taylor maintains “he never referred or directed any journalist to travel to Cavan”.

When Mr Kierans gave his evidence to the tribunal, he said he didn’t have much to say in dispute with Mr McMahon.

Recalling the day Mr McMahon told him about the Ms D allegation, which was the first time Mr Kierans heard about the allegation, Mr Kierans said:

“Basically, Cathal got this really good story, came in to us, we had a meeting in the boardroom in the office in Dublin, he said that he had a cracking story about that Sergeant McCabe had been questioned over the abuse of a child. I was quite shocked, you know. In our world we would have looked at it as one hell of a story, but my antenna was up and I felt that something wasn’t right.

“And it’s one thing for somebody to be questioned by the police, but my view of it was, well, why hadn’t he been charged, you know. And, like, we talked about the story. I don’t really — because it’s four or five years ago, I don’t really remember the full discussion I had with Cathal, to be honest about it, and, you know, I took a decision, you know, I spoke to the news desk about it, some of my executives, and over the next couple of days Cathal said that he’d go to Cavan, and I told him not to, that I wanted to hold off, that I just felt something was wrong here, that I didn’t really believe it.

“My view of it was, you know, this was a very, very serious story, if we are going to run it, the risks to the publication from a defamation point of view would have been absolutely huge, you know, we were talking about millions, making an allegation, if it turned out to be false, against a Garda whistleblower, and also the fact that Sergeant McCabe had been a whistleblower also, you know, I don’t always believe everything that I’m told by governments or by the police. So, for that reason, I kind of decided that we’d back off.

“Now, I didn’t believe the story and I wasn’t going to run it, so I more or less told Cathal to just concentrate on other things, that I wasn’t going to take a risk on it, and I didn’t really believe it in my gut, to be perfectly honest.”

“…And then the other thing that was in my head: Why are the cops telling us this? You know, why are the gardaí telling us that Maurice McCabe has been questioned over a child sex abuse allegation, you know? And the fact that he was a whistleblower, you know, I kind of said there’s something not right here. So again, in my gut, I felt my antenna was up and I walked away from the story. I’m glad I did because it was absolutely totally untrue.”

Mr Kierans told the tribunal that Mr McMahon never told him the identity of his initial source but he did think it was Supt Taylor, however he said he accepted that Mr McMahon had told the tribunal that this wasn’t the case.

Mr Kierans told the tribunal Mr McMahon is an honest individual.

He said:

“I just couldn’t believe that the cops were spinning it, that’s the way I had seen it, that they so easily confirmed — you know, Cathal said that the guards had confirmed it. I can’t remember if I asked him specifically who it was, but I assumed it was Dave Taylor. Like, in fairness to Cathal, he’s a very honest reporter, always has been, he would always tell you the truth, and, as a journalist, he would never, ever put you wrong on a story. He’s a very low-key guy. He’s not one of those guys who wants to be on television every night of the week, and he’s a very honest individual.”

He also reiterated how suspicious he was of what had been confirmed to Mr McMahon, saying:

“It also kind of alarms me as well when the Garda Press Office were confirming a story against an existing member of their own force, right, because normally if a member of the Garda Síochána is in any trouble, they tend to cover it up from one end of the country to another, because they really stand together, the guards.”

Mr Kierans did see Paul Williams’ first article about Sgt McCabe and Ms D in the Irish Independent on April 12, 2014. Asked if he was regretting his decision not to send Mr McMahon to Cavan, Mr Kierans said:

“Absolutely not. I thought they were mad in the head to run it. Because it was anonymous, it was no names, what did it mean? Like, to Joe public, unless people are named, they don’t really know who they are. So you had a garda questioned over an allegation of paedophilia and there was no more detail, you know, so it was all anonymous. And you had quotes from the victim, is my recollection of it.

“So my view is, I didn’t care less, that is their business, and I suspect they’ll probably pay a price for it.

Mr Kierans, like Mr McMahon, didn’t tell the tribunal the information above until he gave a statement to the tribunal in June 2018.

Asked about this delay, he said:

“I like to tell the truth as best I can and I think this Tribunal is really important, I think that the Irish people have a right to know what was going on in the Gardaí at this particular time of our history, and when the investigators initially came into my office and interviewed me and they asked me had we come across any stories in relation to Maurice McCabe, and I didn’t remember any.

“And then subsequent to that, I think it was on the day I was due to come in here to give evidence, I had a phone call with somebody and then it just triggered a memory that I had and I mentioned it to my lawyer and he said, well, you’d better make a new statement to the Tribunal, and this is how it came about that this story that Cathal had, I had completely forgotten about it, and Cathal had been out of my mind because he’d left the Mirror and moved on to other publications, and that’s how it came to be.”

Mr Kierans didn’t tell the tribunal who he had spoken with on the phone.

He also went on to say he believes that when a source waives their privilege, journalistic privilege no longer applies.

He said:

“I think we’ve spent a lifetime cultivating our contacts and we build them up, and especially real confidential informants, it takes a lot of time and trust, and a lot of these people are your best friends and, you know, but if somebody wants — if a contact came to me and wanted to be identified, I would have no problem with it.

“But I have to say and I point out that in 38 years I have never had a contact who came to me, you know. But in this case Mr Taylor has identified himself, so I personally see no problem with it. I think privilege is something that should be cherished and it’s really important for our industry, and equally, I don’t think it should be misused either.”

Mr Kierans also told the tribunal that, after Mr McMahon brought his attention to the Ms D matter, “I would have discovered then over the following two or three weeks that that story had been peddled around town by Superintendent Taylor to a number of other news outlets”.

He latter added:

“I don’t know who he briefed or who he didn’t briefed. All I’m telling you is, my understanding was that that story that we came across was peddled around other newsrooms.”

In response to this, Judge Peter Charleton asked Mr Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, to find out what Supt Taylor’s response was to that claim.

The judge also made a lengthy plea for anyone with information to come forward and suggested there may be consequences for those with information who weren’t coming forward then but may go public in the future.

He said:

The evidence now from Mr Kierans is that this particular story was peddled around the town to at least two or three other newsrooms or news editors by Superintendent Taylor, and I think it is up to him to say whether that happened or not and what the names of those people are. And whereas I am grateful, obviously, to the media, and from time to time I see, because I do read the newspapers and I get both entertainment and instruction from them, perhaps colourful things that I have said in relation to, I don’t know, Kurosawa or anything else like that coming up, but this is a very serious matter.

“I mean, this thing is beginning to come to an end and I would be grateful if the message would go forth through whatever media are present in the room, there is actually a duty on people who actually know something about this to come forward. I made that plea back in February 2017, and here is yet another variation of people not coming forward, perhaps, perhaps suppressing matters, here is a view being expressed in relation to a situation where an individual has completely waived their privilege.

“If people say they have a privilege but they know something, I would much rather know that, than for them to simply, if it is the case, sit in their office blocks and not come to the Tribunal and not communicate.

“There is a website. communicate. There is a phone line. It is manned. It will be manned indeed all day on Saturday. This matter is coming close to an end. And I regard it as not a legal obligation, but much, much more serious than that: a patriotic obligation of people who know something to come forward so that the people of Ireland aren’t left in the daft situation that people who know things in the journalistic profession have not come forward to speak, but, nonetheless, will be able to write articles about what happened to them in the aftermath of the Tribunal report appearing.

“Now, in the event that that happens, the people of Ireland will no doubt take their own view as to the credibility of the persons who do that and that may indeed cause damage to the media outlets who may be involved in this, and I don’t know if they are or not, much worse than any libel action on earth; in other words, people simply stop trusting journalists. And it is important that they do, because journalists fulfil an extremely important function within our society and one which personally I value very highly.”

Mr Ferry later told Judge Charleton that “there’s no other names that he [Supt Taylor] wishes to add to the list”.

Judge Charleton said it wasn’t “a question of wishing. It’s a question of actually assisting in this process”.

Mr Ferry repeated there were no other journalists’ named to be added to Supt Taylor’s list but he confirmed for the judge that Supt Taylor didn’t brief editors or newsrooms directly – he claims he simply told certain journalists.

As Mr Kierans wouldn’t tell the tribunal which newsrooms he believed were “peddled” the matters concerning Sgt McCabe and Ms D, Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal, had the following exchange with Mr Kierans.

Leader: “I just wonder if I could ask you the question in another way. The Tribunal knows that DMG Media [Mail] was aware of this story from the evidence Debbie McCann has given to the Tribunal; the Tribunal also knows that Independent News and Media was aware of the story from evidence given by Mr [Paul] Williams; the Tribunal also knows the Irish Times was aware of the story from Mr [Conor] Lally’s evidence; and there was also, Mr [Michael] O’Toole was aware of the story who I think is The Star?”

Kierans: “Yeah.”

Leader: “The Daily Star?”

Kierans: “Mm-hmm.”

Leader: “And then we have Ms [Eavan] Murray’s evidence from The Sun?”

Kierans: “The Sun.”

Leader: “Are there any other newsrooms that the Tribunal should be aware of?”

Kierans: “Not that I’m aware of, no.”

Leader: “All right. Thank you very much.”

Judge Peter Charleton is due to publish his report in October. He examined allegations made by former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor that he was instructed by former Commissioner Martin Callinan, with the knowledge of then Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, to convey to journalists that an investigation into the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe  was the “root cause” of Sgt McCabe’s whistleblowing. The DPP ruled Ms D’s allegation had no foundation in April 2007 while Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan both deny Supt Taylor’s claims.

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Daily Star

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Sun

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Examiner: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The irish Examiner: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And The Mail Newspapers

 Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTÉ

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

From top: Lorraine and Maurice McCabe; Supt Dave Taylor, Eavan Murray and Fergus O’Shea

Reporters from Ireland’s three main ‘red top’ tabloids gave evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal: Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun; Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star; and Cathal McMahon, formerly of the Irish Mirror.

Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun, gave evidence as she visited the D house in early 2014 and, after the D family told the tribunal about this visit, Supt Dave Taylor confirmed that she was one of the journalists he negatively briefed about Ms D and Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, gave evidence as he was one of the initial nine journalists named by Supt Taylor as having been negatively briefed by him. Mr O’Toole didn’t physically visit the D house in early 2014 but the tribunal heard he did make contact with Mr D via Facebook around that time – according to Mr D.

Cathal McMahon, formerly of the Irish Mirror, also gave evidence after the Irish Mirror‘s editor John Kierans told its investigators that Mr McMahon came to him about the Ms D matter and Sgt McCabe in early 2014.

As Mr McMahon was in the witness box, counsel for Supt Taylor said Mr McMahon was also a journalist whom he negatively briefed. The tribunal heard Supt Taylor didn’t include him in the original list as he was no longer working as a journalist at the time.

Ms Murray, Mr O’Toole and Mr McMahon all deny being negatively briefed by Supt Taylor.

Following on from Mr McMahon’s evidence, the editor of the Irish Mirror John Kierans answered questions in the tribunal while The Irish Sun‘s former deputy head of news Fergus O’Shea also gave evidence, following on from Ms Murray’s evidence.

Eavan Murray started working as a journalist in the Sunday World in Belfast in 2006, after having worked in social services.

She later worked with the Star on Sunday in Dublin, the Irish News of the World, the Irish Daily Mirror and then went back to the Sunday World in Belfast.

In November 2013, she took up a full-time position as a news reporter with the Irish Sun in Dublin and she told the tribunal it wasn’t until early 2014 that she first came in contact with Supt Taylor at a murder scene.

Ms Murray’s first phone contact with Supt Taylor was on February 10, 2014, and the tribunal heard this contact came about because the Irish Sun‘s crime editor Stephen Breen was going on holidays and, while he was away, he suggested she make contact with Supt Taylor in order to be on the Garda Press Office mailing list.

Ms Murray would go on to have extensive contacts with Supt Taylor – especially after he was moved out of the Garda Press Office to the Traffic department in Dublin Castle in June 2014.

The tribunal heard that billing records show Supt Taylor had 11,000 communications with journalists between September 2014 and December 2014 – a quarter (2,800) of these were with Ms Murray; while 190 were with John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, and 17 were with Juno McEnroe, of the Irish Examiner.

Ms Murray remained in regular contact with Supt Taylor until he was arrested and suspended in May 2015, the tribunal heard.

However, these communications are not central to the terms of reference of the Disclosures Tribunal as its chairman Judge Peter Charleton is looking at what occurred during the time period of the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe which, according to the former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Taylor, took place from mid-2013 until the day the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned in March 2014.

[Ms Murray said that from September 2014 onwards her communications with Supt Taylor increased after he asked her for her help with his college work and thesis – which she agreed to. Supt Taylor was studying for a Masters in Political Communication at the time at Dublin City University]

Evidence given to the tribunal via reports from Forensic Science Northern Ireland – which studied the phones, iPads and laptops recovered by the tribunal from Supt Taylor and former Garda Commissioners Martin Callinan and Nóirín O’Sullivan – showed Ms Murray helped Supt Taylor write an essay for his course in November 2014.

The essay was a study of how The Irish Sun versus The Irish Times covered the resignation of Martin Callinan. It included references to Ms Murray’s own reporting on the matter and concluded that The Irish Sun showed “a more balanced and in-depth scrutiny of the government’s role in the issue which was lacking in The Irish Times at times”.]

Supt Taylor’s communications with journalists – before and after he was moved out of the Garda Press Office in June 2014 – were the focus of a Garda criminal investigation and Ms Murray told the tribunal she was “deeply traumatised” by those events.

She also said it was somewhat as a consequence of that experience that she declined to tell the tribunal – after it stated writing to her from March 2017 – about her contacts with Supt Taylor and that she believed she hadn’t been negatively briefed.

The tribunal heard Ms Murray’s consistent reply to the tribunal, when it sent her letters seeking information, was:

“It is my practice as a journalist not to comment on news-gathering activities or sources. I believe that I have certain professional obligations in that regard. I note from your letter that the Tribunal will be considering the issue of journalistic privilege.”

[This is the same response John Mooney, of The Sunday Times – which, along with The Irish Sun, is owned by News Corp – gave to the tribunal when it wrote to him.]

It was put to Ms Murray that if it was the case that she wasn’t negatively briefed, she could have told the tribunal this without infringing on her journalistic privilege. She agreed.

She also said:

“In retrospect, I suppose I probably should have then… I was anxious at the time… I suppose the best way I can explain it, Chairman, it’s kind of counterintuitive to everything…I was deeply traumatised over everything that went on, to be honest…I can only tell you my feelings at the time. I couldn’t believe that I was being dragged into another situation.”


“I was adopting the position just that I felt, you know, a lot of journalists were taking. I mean, as I said before, it’s hugely counterintuitive to you when you’re being asked questions about your contacts with any guard, any source, you know…”

Even when Ms Murray, represented by solicitor Simon McAleese at the time, met with the tribunal’s investigators in October 2017 – at which point the tribunal had been told by the D family that Ms Murray had visited the D house in early 2014 – Ms Murray still “effectively said nothing”, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, told the tribunal.

It also heard an attempt had been made by Ms Murray to give the tribunal’s investigators information “off the record” but the investigators couldn’t accept this – and didn’t hear what this information would have been.

Eitherway, Ms Murray was categorical when she gave evidence that she wasn’t negatively briefed by Supt Taylor in early 2014, saying that, at that time, “I barely knew him at all”.

Ms Murray also claims that she never spoke to Supt Taylor before she visited the D house.

It’s been Supt Taylor’s evidence that he did know she (and separately Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday) was going to call to the D house and that he encouraged them both, separately, to go. Ms Murray told the tribunal Supt Taylor’s evidence on this is “not true”.

Supt Taylor has also told the tribunal that he would have contacted the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to relay to him what the journalists told him [ SuptTaylor].

He also told the tribunal that he confirmed for Ms Murray, and Ms McCann, that it was Mr D’s daughter who made the allegation against Sgt McCabe; and that the two female journalists knew of An Garda Siochana’s attitude towards Sgt McCabe because of “previous briefings”.

Ms Murray said all of Supt Taylor’s claims above were untrue.

But Ms Murray did confirm one claim made by Supt Taylor – that she did speak to him about her visit after it took place.

Until Ms Murray gave evidence, the tribunal was of the understanding that Ms Murray was the second journalist to visit the D house in early 2014 – after Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, and before Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent.

[When Mr Williams gave evidence, he said that when he went to the D house, the D family told him that Ms Murray had already called to the house]

But when Ms Murray gave evidence, she claimed she was at the D house after Mr Williams.

Ms Murray said the reason she believes she was there after Mr Williams is because, according to Ms Murray, Ms D’s parents spoke to her about a video interview Mr Williams had done with Ms D when he first met her on March 8, 2014.

She said:

“…they were quite anxious about the fact that she [Ms D] had done an interview to camera.”

Ms Murray claims she went to the D house prompted by the knowledge that the Irish Independent was going to publish a “huge exclusive” which was to “run over a number of days” about Sgt McCabe, Ms D and a child sex abuse allegation.

She said she first heard about this from the deputy news editor at The Irish Sun at the time, Fergus O’Shea, and that he told her to go to the D house.

Mr O’Shea, who left the Irish Sun in June 2017, told the tribunal he can’t recall sending Ms Murray to the D house.

He told the tribunal, in a statement:

“I remember Ms Murray coming to me and saying there may have been an allegation which was somewhat unclear made against Maurice McCabe and that the alleged victim might be willing to talk to us.”

Mr O’Shea also said he hadn’t heard of any allegation against Sgt McCabe prior to Ms Murray bringing it to his attention.

He also said he brought what Ms Murray said to the then editor Paul Clarkson and that they were wary of the matter as Sgt McCabe was a whistleblower.

Mr O’Shea said, because of a potential defamation case, “we just said leave it alone”. (Ms Murray told the tribunal she was not told not to go to the D house.)

Mr O’Shea said that a number of weeks later, he learned that Ms Murray had gone to the D house in Cavan. But, he said, he didn’t know how that visit came to occur.

He said:

“I mean, I was number two on the news desk, so depending who was working that day, it probably would have come from the person above me or from the editor. I find it hard to believe I would have made that decision on my own.”

Mr O’Shea also said he couldn’t recall ever hearing about the Irish Independent‘s pending articles on Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

He said:

“I can’t see how I would have got that information and I would have no problem sharing it here if I had. I guess there is a possibility that someone in the office got wind of it and in that way it came up and then was decided that she went, that is her recollection, that is fair enough, but it wasn’t through me.”

Ms Murray said:

“I don’t know how they [The Irish Sun] came to know about it, but it wouldn’t be unusual that we would hear that one newspaper has a big story, you know, it wouldn’t be unusual at all. I mean, particularly, I suppose, Paul Williams is a very accomplished and experienced man, he tends to, when he has big stories, they’re massive stories – you know, he had the Anglo tapes and things like that – so you pay attention.

“It wouldn’t be unusual for us to hear that another newspaper had a big story.”

Ms Murray also told the tribunal she never spoke to Mr Williams about his pending articles and that she doesn’t know him “at all”.

[Stephen Rae, then Group Editor of INM, told the tribunal, he was very surprised to learn the Irish Sun had heard about the pending articles in the Irish Independent]

Ms Murray said the purpose of her going up to the D house was to ensure that, if the Irish Independent, did publish a story, then The Irish Sun wouldn’t be wholly behind.

She said she had initially heard about the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe in either January or February of 2014 but she didn’t yet know Ms D’s identity.

The information came to her by way of a conversation with someone about the penalty points controversy and the person with whom Ms Murray was speaking was “sick” of hearing about the penalty points in the news.

Ms Murray also told the tribunal that she felt somewhat sorry for gardai at the time of the penalty points controversy, saying:

“I thought that maybe it was being politicised unfairly in some way. You know, I think I felt that — my job at the time, I was covering courts a huge amount of the time, and I can remember feeling quite sorry for regular guards, thinking that they are being sort of done down constantly by this one issue that I thought there was, you know — that was my feeling at the time.”

In a fresh statement to the tribunal – given just hours before she gave evidence – Ms Murray said the following about the Ms D allegation:

“It was at all relevant times something that was fairly well known in the world of Irish journalism.”

Asked about this, Ms Murray said:

“…the person actually, they didn’t go into a huge amount of detail about it, he just said that there was an allegation in the past about Maurice McCabe, there had been an allegation of sexual assault. But it didn’t go anywhere…”

Ms Murray said the exchange was a “very small interaction”.

She added:

“… my understanding was that this allegation was never proceeded with. I never really thought about it again, to be honest. And then when I heard that the Irish Independent had this rather massive exclusive, I thought that maybe there was something else to it. I thought that maybe there was another branch to it or maybe it had been reinvestigated or maybe it was a different allegation. I just didn’t know.”

Ms Murray said she obtained Ms D’s family name from a journalist but didn’t tell the tribunal their identity.

However, she confirmed it was neither Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, or Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star.

Of this person, she later said:

“This person would have been very good to me, really. I would have trusted his sources, to be honest, Chairman.”

Before setting off for the D house, she obtained the family home’s landline phone number via Directory Enquiries and called the D home, from The Irish Sun‘s Dublin office, and spoke with Mr D.

Ms Murray said:

“I think he said that they had — I don’t know what the exact term was but that Paul Williams, I think, was their preferential choice… Paul Williams being their preferential choice, you know. Somewhat alarmed when I said I was from the Sun.”

Ms Murray said Mr D then called her back, within minutes, and, according to Ms Murray, he “wasn’t hostile to the notion” that she would call to the house.

She added:

“I mean, he knew, he knew, he knew that I was down there to try and find information.”

Ms Murray also said she didn’t know that Ms McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, had been up to the house and she didn’t learn about this until Mrs D told her – on the day she visited.

Of the visit to the D house – during which Ms Murray only met Ms D’s – Ms Murray said:

“…it was unusual in the sense that I was there in the capacity as a journalist, Chairman, but it turned into really a conversation just between three people. As soon as I got to the house, I felt quite guilty, to be honest, because they seemed very weary. I wouldn’t go so — like, they were very, very, very nice, but they just seemed exhausted, and I can remember just feeling quite sorry for them.

“… And I don’t mean that in any kind of a slur on Mr McCabe at all. But I can remember feeling quite guilty. It turned into a conversation just between three individuals and they asked me about my experience as reporting on people that tend to go public with accusations – and, again, I would just like to say I do not in any way mean that as anything against Maurice McCabe – and I gave them a fairly honest answer about that, as much as I could in my experience.

“People that go public about these things, it can seem like a good decision when you’re very young, in your early 20s, but in ten years’ time it may not be such a good decision; like, if you are married and you have children of your own.”

She also said:

“I can remember being somewhat surprised at the minor nature of it [Ms D’s allegation], and the thought crossed my mind that maybe it was worse and she hadn’t been truthful with her parents about that, because I just couldn’t understand how anyone — you couldn’t publish something like that, you could never publish something like that.”

And she said:

“I hope I’m not upsetting anyone by saying this, but my abiding memory is of Mrs D, that she was a very, very nice lady, but she said to me they themselves struggle with the fact that it was such a minor incident had such a massive affect on, allegedly on their daughter, you know, and she asked a child counsellor about it at one stage, why — how can such a minor incident affect someone so much.”

Ms Murray said she has never met Ms D but she did add her on Facebook after she met with her parents. However she said she never actually contacted Ms D.

After her visit to the D house, Ms Murray said the Irish Sun had no interest in the Ms D story and that:

“It was very much a kind of wait and see what the Irish Independent does and we will follow on afterwards. So I told — I did, I told — I can remember saying, look, they’re nice people and everything, I said, but there’s absolutely nothing here that we could ever publish.”

Ms Murray said after her visit, she told Supt Taylor about calling to the D house.

She said, at the time, Supt Taylor was annoyed with the then Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar for stating at a Road Safety Authority event in Dublin Castle that Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson were “distinguished”.

At the same event, Mr Varadkar called on Mr Callinan to withdraw the “disgusting” remark he made in relation to the garda whistleblowers at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee in January 2014.

Mr Varadkar made his “distinguished” comment on March 20, 2014.

When asked about her exchange with Supt Taylor in relation to this, Ms Murray couldn’t explain how or why their conversation went from Mr Varadkar’s “distinguished” comment to her visit to the D house.

She said:

“I have taken advices and I don’t regard this as privileged. It would have been some time after I went up there, I did say to him that I had been up there, I said I’d interviewed that family. I said I thought that they were very nice, the parents, I said, but there’s just absolutely no way you could ever publish something like that. He wasn’t too bothered.”

“… he was somewhat annoyed about comments Leo Varadkar had made, where he had said that the whistleblowers were distinguished, and I said I met that family, I went up to Cavan and met that family, I said. I actually said, do you realise that that was such a very minor allegation?

“…He wasn’t at all — he didn’t — he didn’t seem at all put out that I had no intention to publish.”

“And my recollection is, it was extremely brief and then he moved on to something else.”

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Ms Murray what preceded this exchange with Supt Taylor and asked her why she was discussing the Ms D matter with Supt Taylor at all.

They had this exchange:

McDowell: “Can I ask you, what preceded that? I mean, why were you discussing the allegation at all with him?”

Murray: “He was somewhat exercised by comments made by Leo Varadkar.”

McDowell: “Just hold on a second. The former Commissioner had said that the actions of the whistleblowers were ‘disgusting’.”

Murray: “Mm-hmm.”

McDowell: “And he’s told us that he meant the actions in disclosing information about third parties.”

Murray: “Yes.”

McDowell: “Minister Varadkar says in public: I would use the term ‘distinguished’ rather than ‘disgusting’ –”

Murray: “Yes.”

McDowell: “– referring to the penalty points matter, is that right?”

Murray: “Yes.”

McDowell: “So would you now tell me how, in that context, the allegation of sexual abuse arose in conversation between yourself and Superintendent Taylor?”

Murray: “He was giving out about Leo Varadkar.”

McDowell: “Yeah. And he was criticising, used the word ‘distinguished’ –”

Murray: “He just thought he was causing trouble for Commissioner Callinan.”

McDowell: “Yes. And I’m suggesting to you that the missing link here is that he must have said something to you about the sexual assault because you said –”

Murray: “No, I said to him: You know that allegation, I actually interviewed those people, there was nothing in it.”

McDowell: “How was that relevant to whether he was ‘distinguished’ rather than ‘disgusting’?”

Murray: “I suppose it’s kind of –”

McDowell: “You know that allegation you put to him, isn’t that right? You just said now: I said to him, you know that allegation, I actually interviewed those people, there’s nothing in it.”

Murray: “I said it’s just not something we could ever –”

McDowell:So you must have had some prior conversation about it?


McDowell: “I’m just trying to put sense on it.”

Murray: “Yeah.”

McDowell: “He says, you know, that man Varadkar is completely –”

Murray: “Causing trouble, yeah.”

McDowell: “– goes on and saying that he is distinguished. How do you get from that to a discussion about Ms D’s allegation of sexual assault?

Murray: “I said it to him. I said, I told him.”

McDowell: “You told him what?”

Murray: “That I had been up there to Cavan.”

McDowell: “To do what?”

Murray: “To interview –”

McDowell: “About what?”

Murray: “About this allegation. It was well-known –”

McDowell: “Were you telling him for the first time in all of your dealings that you had –”

Murray: “There hadn’t been a huge amount of dealings with him, though.”

McDowell: “No. But, I mean, the point is, that if you are saying this in response to his suggestion that the word ‘distinguished’ was inappropriate for Sergeant McCabe, it seems to me, and I’m just giving you an opportunity to deal with it, that you must have had a prior discussion –”

Murray:I didn’t.”

McDowell: “– or must have brought up the subject with him of the sexual allegation?”

Murray:I have no recollection of ever bringing that up with him, ever, or him bringing it up with me.”

Later, Ms Murray and Mr McDowell had this exchange:

McDowell: “…but if the conversation was running along that line and that ‘disgusting’ was the better word to apply to him, could that have been a trigger for you mentioning the sexual abuse allegation?

Murray: “Yeah. Yes. Yes, sir. Yes, Chairman. I suppose so.”

The tribunal saw Ms Murray was in phone contact with Supt Taylor on the day of Paul Williams’ first article about Ms D in the Irish Independent on April 12, 2014.

As she had seen the article that day, Ms Murray was asked if this call with Supt Taylor involved a discussion about Mr Williams’ article.

Ms Murray said she didn’t recall it being discussed.

In relation to Mr Williams’ first article, in which Ms D was anonymised and Sgt McCabe, according to Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, was “semi-anonymised”, Ms Murray said:

“Firstly, I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t go, when it didn’t run, and then when it finally did run I thought that was the only way they could have ever ran it.”

After Supt Taylor made a protected disclosure about the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe in September 2016, Ms Murray said she didn’t know it was related to him initially but she thought it sounded like him.

She later got a text from an unnamed friend who told her it was him.

She said she then called Supt Taylor.

Ms Murray told the tribunal:

“I was just kind of like, why are you doing this to yourself, how could you drag yourself into another investigation, kind of, and he was very sort of, trying to get me off the phone as quick as possible.”

She said she was subsequently shocked to learn that she was named by Supt Taylor as someone who had been negatively briefed, by him, about Sgt McCabe.

And she said when she met Supt Taylor on February 14 or 15 of this year, he never told her that he had named her.

She said:

“Out of the blue, a few months ago, I got a text off his wife [Michelle Taylor] asking me for my address and she sent me a present for my baby, but it was unusual in that he was six months old at this stage, and obviously I was curious about the Tribunal, I was — I was sort of in naive hope that maybe I wouldn’t be called, Chairman, to be honest, I was hoping, and I hadn’t heard from you in a long time, so I just was hoping it was just a bad memory, and so I was in Dublin for that week, my mother was in hospital, I used the opportunity to meet with a few people, but one of them being Superintendent Taylor, because, to be honest, my motivation in doing so was to find out just information, you know, I wanted to find out did he name me.

“And he, even though he was sitting across from me in a coffee shop, did not admit that he had given my name to this Tribunal. And I had said — I recall saying, oh, I don’t think they’re going to come looking for me now, I said I think that maybe they don’t really want me, and he said, oh, well, they might, they might, you know. He did not, he didn’t — and do you know, I suppose, the bizarre part was, the letter from yourselves must have actually literally been in the post because I got it just a couple of days later.”

Asked about her concern that Supt Taylor was going to name her, or had named her, Ms Murray said:

My fear was that he would use the fact that the Ds had named me to — named me and Debbie, that he would use that to bolster his own story. And I was correct.

John Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, put it to Ms Murray: “You were part of a smear campaign and you were being used as part of that when you were sent to Cavan?

Ms Murray replied: “I was not.”

They then had this exchange:

Ferry: “You’ve already said you spoke to some person after coming to Dublin, you spoke to Fergus O’Shea, you’ve denied speaking to David Taylor, and you’re saying you didn’t speak to anybody else, so it appears you didn’t carry out any checks and balances?”

Murray: “That’s not true.”

Ferry: “And you headed straight to Cavan on what you said would be a casual run up to Cavan, a nice day out?”

Murray: “I think by going to visit them, the direct source is actually the best kind of checks and balances I could have carried out.”

Ferry: “And I put it to you that the only reason why you would head off on such a mission is that the dogs in the street were talking about the sergeant and you thought there was truth to this allegation that was in the ether about him?”

Murray: “I didn’t.”

Ferry: “And I put to you that the only way that you had a conversation with Superintendent Taylor in around the 20th March referring back to Ms D is because you’d had a previous conversation with him?”

Murray: “I didn’t.”

Ferry: “And finally, I put it to you that the only way that you could have uttered the words as a journalist there was nothing you could ever have published, is because you had been given a very sinister version by the first person you spoke to in Dublin about the story behind Sergeant McCabe?”

Murray: “Okay. We have to disagree.”

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Daily Star

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Examiner: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The irish Examiner: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And The Mail Newspapers

 Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTÉ

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

Lorraine and Maurice McCabe during the Disclosures Tribunal

From top: headline over the February 20, 2017 article containing an interview with Ms D; Kevin O’Sullivan, then editor of the paper, and Conor Lally, the article’s author

This morning/afternoon.

The High Court, Dublin.

“On the 20th Februrary 2017, The Irish Times published an article in its print edition headed “Woman behind alleged complaint about McCabe wants her day before inquiry” and in its online edition headed “When can I get on with the rest of my life? – woman at the centre of the McCabe case“.

The Director of Public Prosecutions determined, after a careful and professional investigation, that no offence of any kind had been disclosed against Sgt McCabe and that there was no basis in fact or law for any prosecution.

Contrary to what was suggested in the articles, the Director of Public Prosecutions did not base his direction on “insufficient evidence”.

The Irish Times fully accepts the DPP’s determination and it was never intended for the article to suggest otherwise.

The Irish Times wishes to apologise to Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife and family for the great hurt and damage caused to them by the publication of this article, and has made appropriate amends to Sgt McCabe.”

A statement read out this afternoon by Cian Ferriter, a barrister acting for the Irish Times as part of a settlement of a defamation case by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

It was an appalling fantasy.

To coin a phrase.

The article in question:

Woman behind alleged complaint about McCabe wants her day before inquiry; Woman, now 24, who made sexual assault claim in 2006, says: ‘I’m sick of saying nothing, of biting my lip and it getting me absolutely nowhere’

By Conor Lally

Eleven years after she made an allegation of sexual assault against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, the woman whose complaint is at the centre of an alleged smear campaign wonders when she can begin the rest of her life.

In 2006, she made an allegation of sexual assault against the Cavan-based garda, which was investigated by An Garda. A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who decided that no further action was necessary.

Struggling with anxiety, depression and other issues in 2013, she was encouraged by her mother to speak to a Health Service Executive (HSE) counsellor, where she spoke about the original allegation but only, she says, when she was asked to do so.

“When she was taking it down, she said something – I don’t know her exact words; she said she’ll have to refer this on,” the woman said. “I remember straight away it got my back up. I was thinking: ‘Refer what on? This has been reported, this has been investigated and the DPP said insufficient evidence. That’s that, there’s nothing going to change, I have accepted that.’

“I remember coming out of the counselling session and I was more annoyed than when I went in; I remember thinking: ‘Stirring up shit for what?’ I knew by her she was going to report it whether I wanted to or not,” the woman said.

Now the 24-year-old college graduate says she wants her day before the Charleton Tribunal of Inquiry: “I would welcome it.” She also wants an apology from the child and family agency Tusla and the HSE over the handling of a counselling session she attended.

“I’m sick of saying nothing, of biting my lip and it getting me absolutely nowhere. We didn’t ask for this; for any of this to be brought up and put into the public [domain],” she told The Irish Times last week.

“We had no choice in this. I don’t want any attention. I want to get my career going, do a bit of travelling around the world and now this is thrown up,” she said, adding that her attitude had hardened watching the media coverage over the past 10 days.

Public statement

The report was made by the counsellor, but the HSE says a cut-and-paste error was subsequently made to it that incorrectly claimed the woman had alleged she had suffered digital penetration by McCabe when she was six years old.

Last week, Maurice McCabe and his wife, Lorraine, in a rare public statement, rejected both the original allegation made against him in 2006 and the subsequent corrupted version that was later included in the HSE/Tusla file.

During the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, established to inquire into McCabe’s allegations about Garda malpractice and incompetence, the couple said: “throughout the proceedings before that commission, Maurice, at the hands of the legal team representing the current [Garda] Commissioner, was cast in the role of culprit and/or defendant, and as a person making those complaints in bad faith and without cause.

“Because the 2004 Act prohibits under pain of criminal law the publication of the actual evidence tendered to such commissions, the public has little or no appreciation of what was done, and attempted to be done, to Maurice in the course of its hearings.

“For example, against the background of the current Tusla controversy, the entirely false allegation made of sexual abuse in 2006 against Maurice was repeatedly the subject of attempts at introduction in the proceedings for the purpose of discrediting his motives and testimony,” the couple said.

Speaking to The Irish Times, the woman was adamant that neither she nor anyone in her family had sought to make her complaint public, had never made the most damaging allegation levelled against McCabe, or had wanted any of it to be used to smear him. “At this point now I want answers and I want an apology,” she said of the Tusla-HSE apparent debacle, “But I want people to start accepting responsibility and to be held accountable.

“I just can’t fathom how this copy-and-paste error happened.

“How could you make that kind of an error? Why would you be copying and pasting anything into a report that you’re meant to be typing up? Where are your notes that you would have been typing from? I just can’t fathom how such a cock-up was made,” she said.

However, the clerical error made in 2013, compounded later by Tusla in 2014 when it followed up on the penetration allegation which should have already been removed from the file, should not now be used against her and her family, including her Garda sergeant father.

Sgt McCabe, she said, was not a well-known Garda whistleblower when the original complaint was made. Despite media reports to the contrary, the woman’s father was not involved in any dispute with McCabe, a Garda colleague, at the time, she said.

Administrative error

Last week, the HSE said an allegation of retrospective abuse was made against McCabe in July 2013, but that “an administrative error” was made a month later by a staff member of the HSE’s National Counselling Service. A corrected report was brought to the attention of Tusla and An Garda in May 2014. Following her 2013 Cavan counselling session, the woman went back to college. There, she went for “two or three” counselling sessions. Later, Tusla contacted her, offering more appointments. It wanted, it said, to review her file because the agency was under new management.

However, Tusla would not disclose specifically what they wanted to discuss, she said. She says she felt “bullied” into agreeing to an appointment date. However, she did not turn up for it because she was living in another part of the country at the time.

She saw little point, she said, in travelling back to Cavan for a review of allegations that she had already made to the Garda years earlier, and that the DPP had decided at the time did not warrant prosecution.

However, she insists that she would have gone to see Tusla officials if they had made it clear that they were investigating the more serious, but erroneous allegation of digital penetration that had by then made its way on to her file.

Nearly a year after she had attended the Cavan counselling session, she and her family became aware the Garda had received correspondence from the HSE which contained the line saying that she had lodged a claim of digital penetration against McCabe.

Her family immediately pointed out to the Garda that no such allegation had even been made. And the family believes it was their pointing out this mistake that resulted in the HSE and Tusla realising their mistake. However, Sgt McCabe says he similarly pointed out the errors.

“I just can’t fathom how such a cock-up was made, and then for Tusla trying to put the blame back on me saying ‘Well, you didn’t want to follow up matters’. They didn’t tell me what it was about.

“If they had told me they messed up, that there was a mishap with my name on it; do you not think I would have come up to sort it out? They never told me. As far as I was concerned, Tusla wanted to review an old case and I thought, ‘For what, to turn my life upside down again?’

“They aren’t accepting responsibility yet; they can apologise to Maurice McCabe, but they can’t apologise to me? I want answers. I’m not going to [accept] ‘Sure look, it was human error.’ No. Someone needs to stand up and start taking responsibility. I’m furious.”

The woman believes some sections of the media have heavily implied that she made a complaint against McCabe in December 2006 because her father was in dispute with him over a disciplinary charge – an allegation she rejects.

According to her account, some 11 months before the allegations were made against Sgt McCabe, her father and a number of other Garda members were off duty and at a funeral gathering in a pub in Co Cavan. There, they learned that a young local man had died by suicide and that his remains had just been found.

Unmarked car

The house where the suicide occurred was less than a mile from the pub where the off-duty gardaí had gathered. They went across the road to the local Garda station and took keys for an unmarked Garda car and drove to the house where the local man had just taken his life.

When they arrived, McCabe was present with two young gardaí, all three in an official capacity.

The young woman’s father and the other off-duty gardaí he was with comforted the family and spent some time with them, she said.

The following morning, the woman claims, it became clear that a local Garda member – not McCabe – had made a complaint about his colleagues taking the unmarked Garda car while off-duty and having been earlier in the pub.

Her family says that Garda member went to Sgt McCabe who then told the men who had taken the car that he had no choice but to take up the complaint. McCabe passed it to his superiors.

The woman’s father was transferred between two units. However, within months he was back where he had been, but in a more senior post, she said. She rejected charges that she had made her complaint against McCabe as an act of retaliation.

She said: “To try and say ‘well, it was your father who put you up to it . . . ‘ It’s horrific to hear that. Why would he have put me through [that]?” Her father “was not a vindictive man”. He had resumed his duties, and got on with his life. He did not lodge her complaint, either, she said.

In December 2006, she said, she had come home one day from school at lunchtime with a friend, following a period “of deep distress”. There, she made allegations to her parents about events she claimed had happened seven years before.

Her father did contact his superiors in the Garda by phone to inform them what his daughter was alleging, she said. However, it was she who made the official complaint.

Two gardaí came to her house the following day. Her parents were not present when the statement was made.

Instead, they absented themselves. A family friend sat with her as she made her allegations. A statement was prepared. Seven months later, the Garda informed her that a file had been sent to the DPP, who subsequently decided against prosecution.

Her family had never got sight of the correspondence from the DPP and so could not comment on the veracity of reports suggesting the complaint outlined may not constitute a criminal offence even if it had taken place, she said.

DPP decision

Three months or so afterwards she was told that the DPP would not prosecute. Then 15 years old, she said she asked her mother to drive her to the town where Sgt McCabe was stationed because she “wanted to see him”. When they arrived they sat in their car.

On seeing McCabe, she says she jumped out of the vehicle and confronted him. She says a Garda member came out of the station to deal with her. “[He] said ‘Look it, calm yourself down. This isn’t doing you any good,'” she said.

“Not once have we been apologised to. Not once have we been contacted by phone, by letter, by anyone to say ‘We are so sorry to have involved you in all of this, to have to put you in the spotlight.’ I don’t want any of this. When am I going to be allowed to get on with my life?” she asked.

Irish Times, February 20, 2017

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times Part 1

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Gemma O’Doherty: They Are Laughing At You


Settles, eh?

Apologised to in open court and awarded ‘appropriate amends’, surely?

Meanwhile…back in the day:

Good times tweets from Conor Lally.

What a complete character he is.

From top: Sgt Maurice McCabe, Michael Clifford, Supt Dave Taylor (right panel) and Tim Vaughan

During the Disclosures Tribunal, the matter of the protection of media sources was discussed at length.

Justice Peter Charleton told the tribunal that he had grown up following the Watergate hearings, which took place in the summer of 1973.

The example of Deep Throat, Bob Woodward’s source for his and fellow reporter Carl Bernstein’s exposés in The Washington Post, was cited throughout by the judge and also many of the witnesses.

However, often for opposing reasons.

Deep Throat (Mark Felt) divulged his role in 2012, freeing the two reporters to confirm his identity.

Former Garda Press Officer Supt Dave Taylor, who said he negatively briefed journalists at the behest of senior gardai, has sought similar confirmation from his alleged former sources.

In fact, it is claimed, to not do so was and is causing him untold damage.

One witness, who said there was no exceptions to when a source’s identity could be revealed or confirmed ,was asked:

Did Woodward and Bernstein get it wrong?

Another witness, a newspaper editor, actually used Mr Felt as an example to explain why he wouldn’t discuss anything about anybody.

He said:

 “Bob Woodward said that he agreed with Mark Felt that the only way that Mark Felt would never be identified as a possible source in the future was to ensure that he would tell no one that they knew each other in any way or that Bob Woodward knew anybody in the FBI.”

Tim Vaughan, former editor of the Irish Examiner, who said he too had followed the Watergate saga growing up, told the tribunal

It isn’t the source’s right to erode the journalist’s right to protect their source.

During Mr Vaughan’s editorship of the Irish Examiner, which ended in 2016, Michael Clifford was the newspaper’s ‘special correspondent’.

Mr Clifford confirmed that Supt. Dave Taylor was a source of his.

But there was a problem

While Mark Felt’s motives to help remove a president (a grievance over a lost promotion among them) were never entirely pure, he was at least attempting to help establish the truth.

Supt Taylor’s motivation for turning against his bosses and his actions since then are simply unfathomable.

He is, to put it mildly, no Deep Throat.

Mr Clifford gave evidence about a week after three of his colleagues – political correspondent Juno McEnroe, security correspondent Cormac O’Keeffe and political editor Daniel McConnell – gave evidence. (full report in part 1 here)

Mr Clifford, who wrote the book A Force For Justice – The Maurice McCabe Story which was published last September, was named by  Supt Taylor – along with RTÉ Prime Time’s Katie Hannon – as being a journalist whom he didn’t negatively brief about Garda whistleblower Sgt McCabe.

Specifically, Supt Taylor said Mr Clifford and Ms Hannon were “clearly writing articles and programmes that were sympathetic to Sergeant McCabe”.

Mr Clifford began writing about Sgt McCabe – without naming him – in May 2013, after an internal Garda investigation into the penalty points controversy had been published by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony.

The following year, in 2014, he heard about a rumour concerning Sgt McCabe on three different occasions.

Interestingly, unlike other previous witnesses who had heard the rumour and satisfied themselves it wasn’t true, Mr Clifford was suspicious from the off.

The first occasion Mr Clifford heard the rumour was during a conversation, in “early 2014”, with someone Mr Clifford described as a “source” who wasn’t a guard.

Mr Clifford recalled:

“I mentioned something to the effect about Maurice McCabe, there’s a lot to that story, a lot more than has come out, and he said words to the effect that there is an issue there, and I asked him what the issue was and he said there had been an allegation of child sexual abuse. He got this, he told me, locally in Cavan. He said the general feeling was that he wasn’t guilty or responsible for the allegation, that there wasn’t any foundation to it, but, the way he put it is, that is still there, it’s still hanging over him.”

After this conversation, Mr Clifford said he was “floored”, made inquiries and satisfied himself there was no foundation to the allegation.

But at this point he was suspicious the allegation was “being used to attack Sergeant McCabe on the basis of what he was bringing forward.”

He said:

“I had been following the story, it didn’t seem to be getting much traction in the media in general and then out of the blue this thing comes along. I then made inquiries about it, I made inquiries in Cavan. I made — I satisfied myself as to the veracity of what the story was.

“I also became aware that Sergeant McCabe’s legal team were aware of this issue and to be honest with you I found that very reassuring, to the extent that Mr McDowell, for instance, is a public figure and the idea that he would have been involved or allowed himself to be used in any way to run an agenda by somebody who had these kind of issues in their background, was beyond any sort of belief as far as I could see.

“But I also satisfied myself as to what actually happened; I did not know the detail that has emerged here in the Tribunal but the general gist of that to a large extent, I satisfied myself that that was the case.”

The second occasion the allegation was brought to Mr Clifford’s attention was during a telephone conversation with someone whom Mr Clifford said, “is very familiar with politics and on the basis of my own conversations with him he has a friendship at the very least with a senior garda”.

Mr Clifford told the tribunal the senior guard is not a garda whom the tribunal has been examining.

This second man bluntly told Mr Clifford “You know your man McCabe is a kiddie fiddler”.

Mr Clifford felt the man’s information was coming from his Garda friend.

He told the tribunal:

“I explained to him that I had heard that, I had checked it out, there was no truth to it. He sounded sceptical in my response. The only connection there, and as I say I don’t know this but this would just be a suspicion on a previous occasion, that particular individual had relayed to me about a friend of his, a senior garda who had described myself in disparaging terms and on that basis I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that this is where it was coming from when he mentioned it to me about Sergeant McCabe.”

Mr Clifford didn’t disclose the identities of the two people who spoke to him about Sgt McCabe.

He told Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, that he’s satisfied that even if he did identify the two men, it wouldn’t assist the tribunal.

The third occasion the allegation against Sgt McCabe was raised with Mr Clifford was when his then editor Tim Vaughan contacted him, in the second half of 2014.

Mr Clifford recalled:

“He rang me and he said — he sounded slightly, not alarmed but slightly urgent and he said that had it come to him, somebody had suggested to him that Maurice McCabe was involved in these issues and I reassured him, I said Tim, I have come across it, there’s no truth to it, I think it’s actually being used against the man, and that was it. And to the best of my knowledge he accepted my explanation entirely and certainly didn’t affect work that the Irish Examiner did thereafter on this story.”

Mr Vaughan told the tribunal he had heard a rumour about a sexual assault allegation against Sgt McCabe during a phone conversation with a contact “who knows about Dublin media”. Mr Vaughan said this contact didn’t know where the rumour came from, while the tribunal didn’t hear the identity of this contact.

Mr Clifford said as he works from home, he couldn’t recall any specific conversation with other journalists about the allegation but he definitely had as sense it was in the “ether” in 2016.

This was the same year Mr Clifford met Supt Taylor for the first time.

Mr Clifford told the tribunal that he got a phone call from Supt Taylor in either late May or early June of 2016, on foot of an article Mr Clifford had written about the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation which mentioned Supt Taylor.

[In May 2016, Mr Clifford, and separately Ms Hannon, on RTÉ’s Prime Time, reported on the legal strategy used by the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015. Separately, Supt Taylor had been arrested and suspended in May 2015 for allegedly leaking material to the press when he was no longer press officer. The DPP ruled against a prosecution. But at the tribunal, Supt Taylor accepted he had leaked material to the press. Supt Taylor went back to work in the Traffic Department in February 2017]

Mr Clifford had never met Supt Taylor at this point.

He explained:

“I got a phone call, I remember it because I was in my mother’s house in Cork, and it must have been a Saturday evening. He said ‘Dave Taylor here’, for a couple of seconds I couldn’t place him, then he said ‘thanks for the mention in the piece’ and then I realised who I was talking to. And we had a bit of a conversation, he made some comments about Nóirín O’Sullivan and the difficulties she was having at the time and how, in his opinion, she wasn’t very good for the Gardaí or whatever.

“And he also made comments about Sergeant McCabe, and he said what Maurice was going through, and he referenced him twice I think as Maurice, which I found — I thought it was amusing or ironic, the right words, because as far as I was concerned he had been Garda HQ, which had, I believed, a very hostile attitude towards Maurice McCabe and now he was speaking about him in these terms, but that was the nature of it.

“And anyway, that phone call didn’t last too long and he suggested going for a cup of coffee sometime and I said grand, and I left it at that. And to be honest with you I wasn’t at that point that interested in meeting him for a cup of coffee and I just left it at that on a cordial basis.

Mr Clifford believes he then met Supt Taylor in either late August or early September 2016 and then a second time on the first weekend of October 2016.

Of their first meeting, Mr Clifford said he can’t recall who called whom, but either way, Supt Taylor suggested they meet at his home.

This came about after Mr Clifford had heard from a source that Supt Taylor’s wife Michelle had met with Sgt McCabe.

Mr Clifford said there were “two prongs” to their meeting. The first was the poor financial situation Supt Taylor and his family were in because of his suspension and the second was how Supt Taylor came to be in this position.

Mr Clifford said Supt Taylor conveyed that “the central character in that was Nóirín O’Sullivan”.

He said Supt Taylor claimed that either Garda HQ or Mr O’Sullivan were obsessed with Sgt McCabe and his highlighting of issues within An Garda Síochána; he said Supt Taylor didn’t have a good working relationship with Ms O’Sullivan; and he said Supt Taylor said he and Martin Callinan had, at one point, suspected she was leaking to the media “in the form that I think is more familiar to political or business world of one person briefing against another”.

Mr Clifford and Judge Charleton spoke about this for some time:

Clifford: “…he suggested that Nóirín O’Sullivan, that they thought — sorry, that himself and Martin Callinan were under the impression or they thought that Nóirín O’Sullivan was leaking stuff to the media, effectively briefing the deputy commissioner, effectively briefing against the Commissioner. Again, this is — he didn’t give an example of that, or anything, but he threw that in, and, as I say, I only recall that because that is from the near-contemporaneous note I had.”

Charleton: “Yes. Well, was he trying to give you the impression that Garda Headquarters was some a kind of a viper pit where everyone was against everybody else and trying to destroy the other?”

Clifford: “He wouldn’t have to give me that impression, Chairman, I’d say I probably had that impression myself, but there was an element of that there.”

Charleton: “All right. Well, can we just turn to the note, if you wouldn’t mind, it’s 6628, and would you mind just telling me where there is any reference to that, because it’s not obvious to me. This is your note, what you typed up on your PC.”

Clifford: “Sorry, yeah, the reference down there:

“MC and DT suspected she was releasing info to us how divided they were going back a number of years.”

Charleton: “That is it, yes. So that is what that means?”

Clifford: “Yes, that is my —

Charleton: “I don’t get — in a way, I don’t get this, and on a human level I am finding this hard to understand, Mr Clifford, that everything seems to be about PR and what the newspapers are saying, as opposed to what you are doing yourself, in reality.”

Clifford: “Oh, I think that theme runs through the whole situation, to be quite honest with you.”

Mr Clifford told the tribunal that he had no basis on which to believe anything of what Supt Taylor was telling him was true, but it was what Supt Taylor told him.

Mr Clifford also said Supt Taylor said, on the day Mr Callinan resigned, he [Mr Callinan] asked Supt Taylor to get a letter to RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Williams about the taping of telephone conversations in Garda stations.

He said Mr Callinan made the request after he had stepped down.

Mr Clifford said:

“…he says he was asked to do that by Martin Callinan, even though Martin Callinan had just resigned that morning, he placed huge emphasis on Nóirín O’Sullivan’s reaction to him doing that. He said that — he said she was very annoyed, to put it at its mildest, but his big thing that was her position was that he was now working for her as she was Commissioner and he shouldn’t have been doing something for Martin Callinan. That is the way he framed whatever happened there but he certainly gave the emphasis that that signalled a rapid deterioration in any relationship he had with Nóirín O’Sullivan, by his account.”

Mr Clifford said, on this occasion, Supt Taylor mostly talked about himself.

As for any alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, Mr Clifford said:

The general gist of it was that Martin Callinan would send him a text or a message and that — which would be derogatory towards Sergeant McCabe in one form or another, and he passed this on, I believe he said to other senior officers and to the media. I cannot tell you 100 percent that he said he texted the media or spoke to them verbally. I understand that he said he told me he only spoke verbally, I have no recollection of that. But I can’t be 100 percent of that.

“But what I am absolutely sure of, in terms of that conversation, is the centrality of these text messages, because his thesis, if you want to call it that, was that the whole investigation, suspension of him from his job was associated with the fact that then Commissioner O’Sullivan wanted to get her hands on his phone because that was what you might call the smoking gun in terms of anything to link her to the type of attitudes there was to Maurice McCabe back in ’13 and ’14, and he effectively blamed his demise as such on that issue, and he put forward the case that it was all linked to the Commissioner, through her husband, who was on the investigation team, he described it at the time as heading it up, getting her hands on that phone to effectively destroy any evidence linking her to this campaign that he says was going on.”

Mr Clifford next met Supt Taylor on the first weekend of October in 2016.

By this stage, Supt Taylor, and Sgt McCabe, had made separate protected disclosures – after Supt Taylor told him on September 20, 2016, that he had “destroyed” Sgt McCabe via a smear campaign.

On this second occasion, Mr Clifford asked Supt Taylor to clarify three matters based on information he had acquired elsewhere – that texts had been used as part of the alleged smear campaign, that an intelligence file had been created on Sgt McCabe in Garda HQ; and that somebody had been appointed to monitor Sgt McCabe’s activity on Pulse.

Mr Clifford said Supt Taylor confirmed all three of these were correct.

He also said Supt Taylor definitely conveyed to Mr Clifford that phones which had been seized from him – during the investigation into him – were “key to everything”.

[The tribunal has since heard that the phones seized from Supt Taylor were not relevant to the time period when the alleged smear campaign took place. They, instead, were from after that time period. And the phones that were relevant to that time period were never recovered by the tribunal but were not in possession of An Garda Síochána. Instead, they were in Supt Taylor’s own possession but he lost them.]

Asked specifically what he could recall of his conversation with Supt Taylor about texts during their meeting in October 2016, Mr Clifford said:

“The impression I got was that these text messages were sent, as I understood it, to senior officers or senior management rather than one individual. I wasn’t 100 percent sure on that. Neither was I 100 percent sure that they were sent to journalists. But the emphasis that was put on them was that these text messages contain effectively statements, language, whatever, that shows that this campaign he was claiming was run was being run and, therefore, people who would have been informed had knowledge of it.

“That was the general gist of where I interpreted him as coming from with the whole issue around text messages. As I say, I can’t say definitively that he said he sent texts to journalists but he most definitely said that he sent texts of this nature to Nóirín O’Sullivan and, my recollection, to senior management in the Gardaí.”

[Supt Taylor has denied to the tribunal that he indicated this to Mr Clifford. He also denies indicating the same thing to Sgt McCabe and Independents 4 Change TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace]

Mr Clifford also told the tribunal that the manner in which Supt Taylor told him about the seizure of his phones seemed “practised”.

He said:

“He effectively made a case or presented a thesis, if you want to put it that way. I also, and again this is only my speculation, on the basis it was done, it was either practised or else he had done a similar exercise with people prior to me. That was my impression.

“If I could put it this way: The presentation of that case, the manner in which it was done, it struck me that he had either practiced this or he had made a similar presentation to perhaps other journalists, perhaps other people, I don’t know, that was an impression that I came away with from that.”

The judge clarified with Mr Clifford: “What you are saying is, it wasn’t improvised out, it seems to be a presentation like you would get a presentation like slides or whatever?”

Mr Clifford explained again:

“Yeah. Well, obviously, Chairman, not as professional as that, but just in terms of the general tenor. For example, there was some paperwork there, it was on the coffee table, and you know, small stacks at right angles, as would you, you know, and just the whole thrust of what he was saying, as I say, it wasn’t something that struck me as being presented simultaneously or off the top of his head kind of thing.”

Mr Clifford couldn’t recall whether it was during the first or second meeting that Supt Taylor told him he would have conveyed the Ms D allegation – which had been categorically dismissed by the DPP in 2017 – to journalists in 2013/2014 to the effect that there was “no smoke without fire”.

[Curiously, this is something Supt Taylor also told the tribunal’s investigators in an interview, but something he later backtracked on when he gave evidence]

In May 2017, Mr Clifford emailed Supt Taylor a section of his book. In his email, Mr Clifford wrote:

This is the chapter I was telling you about, where you enter the McCabe story. See what you think, particularly in terms of factual accuracy.
Thanks, talk soon.”

In the excerpt sent to Supt Taylor, there were the flowing the lines about Supt Taylor’s meeting with Sgt McCabe on September 20, 2016:

Within days, Supt Taylor got back to Mr Clifford.

He sent him one correction – to say he hadn’t been interviewed by the Children’s Ombudsman in relation to the leaking of material concerning Roma children to the press in October 2013 – and that was it.

Supt Taylor never corrected Mr Clifford on his account of his meeting with  Sgt McCabe.

Even after the publication of his book, Supt Taylor still never told Mr Clifford that what he wrote was incorrect.

When Supt Taylor gave evidence, he said he scanned the extract and didn’t read it line by line.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for Supt Taylor, put it to Mr Clifford that for Supt Taylor to have sent disparaging texts about Sgt McCabe to journalists would defeat the purpose of trying to influence the journalists “off the record”.

Mr Clifford said:

“That’s correct. With the proviso that it would depend on how close your relationship might have been with a particular journalist.”

Conor Dignam SC, for An Garda Síochána, asked Mr Clifford about his reports in the Irish Examiner on October 4, 2016, about the protected disclosures made by Supt Taylor and Sgt McCabe.

In an analysis piece, Mr Clifford wrote:

“The disclosures allege that there was a concerted campaign amongst senior management in the force to destroy the character of a whistleblower. There were different strands to the alleged campaign, including the dissemination of text messages containing falsehoods about the officer in question, briefing of elements of the media and even the creation of an intelligence file on the officer.”

The tribunal heard the Irish Examiner‘s coverage didn’t yield any complaints from Supt Taylor.

Mr Dignam took issue with the use of the word “revelations” in the newspaper’s coverage that day but Mr Clifford pointed out the “revelation” was the fact protected disclosures had been made, as opposed to the content of the disclosures.

Asked if he checked the veracity of the claims which he reported, Mr Clifford told Mr Dignam:

“There was very little I could do in that regard. In terms of publishing that and feeling justified in publishing it, there are a couple of things in that regard that I would say: First of all, this is — in publishing that, it’s a process whereby it goes through the editorial hierarchy inside in the Examiner, which backed up my decision that this was in the public interest and that this should have been published.

“Then you are talking about the substance of the issue. In the first instance, this was unprecedented. You had a superintendent in An Garda Síochána nominally of good standing, was making a protected disclosure about what was occurring within the force. That of itself was completely unprecedented.

“Equally so, who he was incriminating in there. In the first instance he was incriminating himself. I don’t know even since the protected disclosure or anything of that nature has come in, have we ever had a scenario whereby somebody making it was incriminating and incriminating himself to the extent that he was admitting that he was involved in a smear campaign to effectively brand Sergeant McCabe as a paedophile and to do so for no other than to ingratiate himself to his boss or further his career.

“That is that element of it. The second element: The other person he incriminated was former Commissioner Callinan, somebody with whom he had a very good relationship, whom he looked up to and whom he regarded as something of a mentor.”

Mr Dignam asked Mr Clifford if the animus which Supt Taylor had shown towards Ms O’Sullivan caused him concern in publishing his articles in October 2016 about the protected disclosures.

Mr Clifford said:

“It certainly gave me pause for thought, but you have to put this into context; in many instances that I would come across and many instances of any nature for — the most obvious example is a tribunal, that, fortunately, Chairman, I don’t think you will be heading for the record of 13 years, but the Planning Tribunal — the Planning Tribunal, as I think we are aware, began over a grudge an individual had for his employer not providing a pension. That is the nature of these things.

“Now, absolutely, I took that into account, but as I was saying to you before, I balanced that against both the substance of the allegation in terms of my
knowledge over the previous three or four years, both the fact that it was self-incriminating and that it was also incriminating somebody to whom Mr. Taylor obviously looked up to.

“All scenarios like that in terms of publication, some sort of a balance has to be reached between suppressing information – and I was in possession of that information – and the fairness to everybody involved, and, in my opinion, that was achieved. It wasn’t just desirable to publish it, but it was necessary to publish it.”

It was put to Mr Clifford, by Mr Dignam, that the articles caused a “storm of controversy”, to which Mr Clifford replied:

“It certainly did, Mr Dignam, but I will also have to add to that, I’m afraid, that is not my responsibility.”

He later added:

“As a newsworthy event, as an event in which there is public interest, this was unprecedented.”

Just before Mr Clifford finished giving evidence, Mr Dignam pressed Mr Clifford on his source for information about the meeting which took place between Sgt McCabe, Supt Taylor and his wife Michelle.

Mr Clifford said:

“As far as I know, I’m the only person coming in here speaking in any detail about any interaction with David Taylor on the basis he has waived privilege. That is a precarious road to go down on the basis of identifying other sources, so I don’t want to go any further than that.”

Judge Charleton then stepped in and said this about journalists and privilege:

“I mean, at the end of the day, you know, Mr Dignam, again it’s a question of where we go on this, and I appreciate where you are coming from and the skill with which you are doing this, but, look, I am not asked in the terms of reference to comment on the media, whether the media did a good or bad job or whether paper will refuse ink, whether there should be higher standards in journalism. I mean, people can form their own view on that, and if they don’t like what they read in a paper, they can stop buying it, or if they don’t like what they hear on any particular form of media, they can just, you know, turn somewhere else.”

“…I mean, at the end of the day, what was said in the room, if you like, is between Michelle Taylor and David Taylor and Maurice McCabe and the various reports of that. I’m not going to be helped, one way or the other, by anything else. And vis-á-vis Mr. Clifford and David Taylor and the waiving of privilege, I understand where Mr. Clifford is coming from in that regard, but, you know, again it’s a question of where are the side alleys in this and should — if a hare runs down there, should I follow for the purpose of seeing if there is anything there. I would prefer to stick with what I am supposed to do.

I presume David Taylor and Michelle Taylor spoke to other people, I presume Maurice McCabe spoke to other people, I presume he got advice. The circumstances under which information stays confined is extremely rare. And this is more like an inkblot, to be quite frank; it lands on the page and it spreads out. You know, it’s not going to help me, because, at the end of the day, the primary evidence, instead of the dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi (go ndúirt bean eile) rud éigin, is the three people in the room and what was written down in consequence of it. So that is the reason I am not following it, Mr Dignam.”

Judge Charleton also said that he’s unlikely to come to any conclusion about Mr Clifford’s articles but indicated he may make a comment in his report about Paul Williams’ articles in the Irish Independent about Sgt McCabe and Ms D in April and May 2014.

He said:

“Mr Clifford, I have no issue with anything that you did, and, in any event, I have no — I have no power to report on it, one way or the other. It may be that something in relation to the articles concerning Maurice McCabe as an unnamed individual may call for some comment, but yours certainly don’t. So thank you for your assistance.”

The tribunal also heard neither Mr Callinan nor Ms O’Sullivan ever made any complaints to Mr Clifford or the Irish Examiner about Mr Clifford’s articles on the protected disclosures.

When questioning Mr Vaughan about sources and their protection, Justice Charleton introduced Watergate once more.

Justice Charleton said:

“I’m not sure in the Woodward and Bernstein example here [sources waiving privilege], what people are so worried about …”

Before wondering:

Unless, of course, things are much worse or there is some kind of a side agreement.”

They then had this exchange:

Charleton: “Well, in the Woodward and Bernstein example, do you think that erodes – source protection, for them to be talking about that, for the person in question to have come forward and said, ‘Yes, I was Deep Throat’ and ‘Yes, I am the source of the articles that appeared’, which exposed the then-president of the United States in a not very favourable fashion? I can’t see a — I can’t see that that bulwark is in any way breached or dissolved or even threatened. Can you?”

Vaughan: “I think we have to disagree.”

Charleton: “Fine. I’m happy to disagree with people, but you have to give me a reason for disagreeing. What is the reason? Just take the Woodward and Bernstein example, were they in the wrong? I mean, having done such huge credit to journalism, are we saying that somehow they are now anti-heroes, having been heroes? What is the reason? I am grasping around trying to fathom what it is. I am very willing to listen.”

Vaughan: “I wouldn’t — I would not, myself, if I had a source who was claiming or revealing that he was the source, I would not reveal that he was.”

Charleton: “And if the net result of that was he was going to be called a malicious perjurer and he was actually asking for your help, it’d be the same?

Vaughan: “I think you’ve got to — I would — it would be a difficult situation, but I think you’ve got to uphold the integrity of — I don’t think you can pick and choose in these matters.”

Charleton:Nobody is picking and choosing, no more than Woodward and Bernstein picked and chose. Maybe we have discussed it enough. But, I mean, is it possible that the reason has to be in those circumstances that there is some kind of a side agreement between the source that it’s only — I’m only going to go so far and you can’t say any more, or that the relationship has become too close so that it is no longer based on privilege, it is no longer based on journalistic ethics, but is based effectively on a relationship with the person who has outed himself as the source?

Vaughan: “Sorry, I don’t get your point there, Chairman.”

Charleton: “Well, I’m struggling on this one. Thanks for your help.”

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The irish Examiner: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Mail Newspapers

 Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTÉ

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

Top: Michael McDowell (left) and Sgt Maurice McCabe. Above: From left Daniel McConnell, Juno McEnroe and Cormac O’Keefe

While examining whether media organisations colluded with senor gardai in the alleged smearing of whistleblower Maurice McCabe the tribunal heard from many indignant journalists.

Some resented being there (perfectly understandable if wrongly accused) while others treated the most innocent question with withering hostility.

Combined with this was the idea among a few witnesses, promoted by themselves, that their qualifications, status and perhaps the very future of Irish journalism were at stake.

The effect of all this was to produce testimony that could sound, even to counsel, as self-regarding and pretentious in the extreme.

Justice Charlelton and attending barristers, who may have thought they had witnessed hard to beat amour-propre in the Law Library, could only marvel wincingly.

Declining to confirm whether he had ever met Noirin O’Sullivan, Sebastian Hamilton, editor of the Irish Daily Mail, told the tribunal:

“…I say this as, you know, the third generation newspaper editor in my family. I believe that I should not ever have to discuss, and certainly shouldn’t be compelled to discuss, with anybody outside, who I meet, who I talk to…”

Challenged on why he didn’t follow up rumours regarding Ms D and Sgt McCabe, Fionnan Sheahan, editor of the Irish Independent, informed the tribunal:

“I have national media awards sitting on my desk because I pursued stories as a journalist which started off with basic hard facts….”

Another journalist described how he and colleagues took away certain allegations “and did some of our journalism” to check their veracity.

This suggested an alchemical process known to only a few had been achieved rather than what must have been just a few phone calls.

And it went on and on.

Indignation, convolution and some pretension would all be present during the questioning of journalists from the Irish Examiner.

Political correspondent Juno McEnroe, security correspondent Cormac O’Keeffe and political editor Daniel McConnell – all gave evidence because they were named by the former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor, who is waiving privilege, as having been negatively briefed by him in relation to Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Supt Taylor has told the tribunal he was instructed to negatively brief journalists about Sgt McCabe between mid-2013 up until former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s retirement in March 2014.

When they gave evidence, Mr McEnroe, Mr O’Keeffe and Mr McConnell all refused to confirm or deny whether they had been negatively briefed by Supt Taylor.

Eventually, at a later hearing, Judge Peter Charleton described the evidence of the three journalists as, at times, “mysterious”, before adding “but I am left essentially with Cormac O’Keeffe and trying to read what precisely he is saying”.

The judge’s focus on Mr O’Keeffe is not surprising given what the chairman heard from Mr McEnroe and Mr McConnell.

After the tribunal was set up, and its solicitor Elizabeth Mullan sent letters to various journalists and editors asking for people with any information relevant to the tribunal’s terms of reference, Mr McEnroe initially sent a letter of reply stating he had no such information.

In a subsequent interview with the tribunal’s investigators, Mr McEnroe was shown his letter and he confirmed the content of it was correct.

But when he came to give his evidence, he apologised for sending the initial letter in error, and told the judge he was actually claiming journalistic privilege and wouldn’t be confirming or denying if he had any relevant information for the tribunal.

He also said the letter that he had sent was a “rushed judgment”.

Asked specifically if he had any information of any attempt made by Supt Taylor to discredit Sgt McCabe by reference to an allegation of criminal misconduct, Mr McEnroe said:

“In relation to Superintendent Taylor, I cannot — I cannot answer questions in relation to that, for fear of maybe disclosing information that could be relating to a source.”

The tribunal heard that in an interview with its investigators, the following was put to Mr McEnroe:

“I have been asked whether I’m aware and whether I have any evidence of any attempt made by former Commissioner Callinan and/or former Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan or any other senior member of An Garda Síochána to discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe by reference to an allegation of criminal misconduct made against him, and if so, I have been asked to provide details and all attendant circumstances.”

He answered: “No, I am not.”

When he was questioned by Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, Mr McEnroe confirmed that he didn’t consider Supt Taylor as being a “senior member” of the gardaí when he answered that question.

Ms Leader went on and asked – based on Mr McEnroe saying he didn’t include Supt Taylor in his answer – if the tribunal could therefore not exclude the possibility that he does have some knowledge of some other gardaí (other than Mr Callinan or Ms O’Sullivan, or gardai of assistant commissioner rank) attempting to discredit Sgt McCabe.

Mr McEnroe asked Ms Leader to repeat the question several times.

Mr McEnroe did confirm that neither former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan nor his successor Noirin O’Sullivan, nor any politician, nor any journalist ever drew his attention to the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe.

He also said he didn’t become aware of the Ms D allegation until July 2014 – at which point Supt Taylor was supposedly finished his alleged smear campaign.

Mr McEnroe had the following exchange with Judge Charleton:

Charleton: “Maybe you’d actually speak plainly and maybe you’d just tell us did you become aware of an allegation of sexual misconduct against Sergeant McCabe at any time while David Taylor was Garda Press Officer in the 23 months ending on 10th June 2014.”

McEnroe: “No, I did not, Chairman.”

Charleton: “Well then, he couldn’t have negatively briefed you, could he?

McEnroe: “I’d rather not discuss any conversations I might have had with a source or sources.”

Charleton: “And David Taylor was a source?”

McEnroe: “I’d rather not discuss conversations I may have had with sources, Chairman, and I am trying to answer questions but I cannot go further than that.”

Charleton: “It seems to me you are not trying to answer questions at all. It seems to me that you are actually playing games, Mr McEnroe.”

McEnroe: “I reject that.”


Mr McEnroe did say that, at the time of Sgt McCabe’s appearance before the Public Accounts Committee in January 2014 – just a week after Mr Callinan appeared and made his “disgusting” remark – he could recall a question mark being raised over Sgt McCabe.

He said:

“…this was more gossip, prattle, that somebody raised a question-mark or a doubt around Sergeant McCabe”.

He added:

“I’ve tried to recall, and I don’t remember specifics that might have been suggested to me or were put to me. I just remember there was a question-mark raised, you know, whether — is he a trustworthy person, or something along those lines, and I cannot be specific.

“I didn’t take those suggestions very seriously because they weren’t coming to me in a briefing sense, they were coming, as I say, from gossip or from tittle-tattle or something that was just put out there or a side comment. But I did actually go and speak to people who would have met Sergeant McCabe and also people who knew Sergeant McCabe, and I satisfied myself that there didn’t seem to be something to be concerned about.”

Daniel McConnell, who is now political editor of the Irish Examiner was the former group political correspondent at Independent News and Media during the time period of the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

He left INM for the Irish Examiner in November 2015.

Mr McConnell wrote articles about the penalty points controversy, the Public Accounts Committee and Sgt McCabe on February 2, 2014, February 6, 2014,  and two articles on February 24, 2014.

Similarly to Mr McEnroe, he also told the tribunal he could neither confirm nor deny the claim that Supt Taylor negatively briefed him about Sgt McCabe.

Mr McConnell said around the time of the PAC hearings in January 2014, there was vague “journalistic chatter” about Sgt McCabe but he said it was “very low level, inconsequential, in my view, and certainly something that I never either investigated, looked at, because it wasn’t within my remit to do so”.

Supt Taylor claims he would have spoken negatively about Sgt McCabe to Mr McConnell several times around the time of the PAC hearings and that he did this over the phone.

The tribunal saw there was one mobile phone contact from Supt Taylor to Mr McConnell in early February 2014, one in the second week of March 2014, one in April 2014 and two in May.

Of his position, Mr McConnell said:

“Myself and Mr [Cormac] O’Keeffe, you know, I think would be very… would have very similar views in relation to the principle of journalistic privilege, the protection of sources and the protection of not only those but the gathering of information, and the statement I gave to the Tribunal investigators reflected that and it’s my position here today.”

Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, later had the following exchange with Mr McConnell:

Leader: “Source X gives you information?”

McConnell: “Mm-hmm.”

Leader: “Unnamed source in relation to something totally —”

McConnell: “We are speaking hypothetically here.”

Leader: “Totally unconnected to the Tribunal, hypothetical?”

McConnell: “Yes.”

Leader: “Source X says: I was doing something wrong when I gave you that information, I am telling you now that I was doing something wrong, I am waiving any protection, any privilege in relation to the giving of that information, all right?”

McConnell: “Mm-hmm.”

Leader: “And not only that, but I am waiving it publicly and I am saying all of this publicly, which is being reported on a daily basis publicly.”

McConnell: “Mm-hmm.”

Leader: “So does that source need any protection then, source X, leave Superintendent Taylor out of it?”

McConnell: “Sure. But I come from a position, Ms Leader, which is different.”

Leader: “No, I’m not asking you where you come from. I’m asking you does that source need protection?”

McConnell: “I’m asking from a journalist’s point of view, the person as a journalist who holds the privilege, it is therefore my obligation to the principle of journalistic privilege that I would not be in a position, even if a source, in my view, moved — or a perceived source or an alleged source moved to say — to waive that privilege, I would not be in a position, I feel, compelled by the obligation that I have to do my job, to start getting into a conversation that you are seeking to bring me into.”

Leader: “All right. I will ask you one more time. Does source X need any protection in those circumstances?”

McConnell:Yes, I think source X would need protection, on the basis that there are many unintended consequences as to how people might ask a question, where a question is coming from, and also the potential motivations of other people, that may seem irrelevant at a particular time but could become relevant at a later point in date — or a later point in time.”

Leader: “If that source is one of a group of people of 12,000, do you think that source needs protection? There are 12,000-plus Gardaí in this country.”

McConnell: I’’m just not willing to get into a position, Ms Leader, to start talking about or getting into a process of identifying people. I would like to be helpful to the Tribunal. I have done a lot of work in terms of meeting with investigators, providing my mobile phone number, studying the evidence at play. I would — am genuinely, Chairman, seeking to be helpful to the Tribunal. I just, however, feel compelled to not get into a position where I feel a source of mine or a root of information could therefore be identifiable, I’m afraid I feel compelled I cannot do that.”

Mr McConnell added:

“If, say, someone gave me information two or three years ago or four years ago, and I find myself in a place like a tribunal of inquiry and I am being put under pressure to reveal where information came from, they’d never speak to me ever again, other people would never speak to me again, because the conclusion would be that Daniel McConnell is someone, when pressure is brought to bear, would sing like a canary.

“I, unfortunately, am not someone who will sing like a canary. I am someone who will protect my sources and someone who believes in the principle of journalistic privilege, and I do so not to frustrate the work of a tribunal of inquiry, but I do so because I think there are competing — you know, there is a balance of rights and issues at play here.”

Cormac O’Keeffe, security correspondent at the Irish Examiner, also refused to confirm or deny whether he had been negatively briefed by Supt Taylor.

But, in contrast to Mr McEnroe and Mr McConnell, Mr O’Keeffe said he couldn’t tell the tribunal if he had heard of any rumours about Sgt McCabe in 2013/2014.

He said:

“Anything that I may have heard, that may have come from a source, I am unable to go into because it may or may not identify a source…”

However he went on to say:

“I don’t want to mislead the Tribunal, I don’t know when exactly I would have heard various things. I came to this story I think relatively late. It would have been — I think my first story that is in the — what was circulated, was towards the end of February 2014. So that would have been when I would have started covering it.

“So whatever I might have heard in terms of half snatches of conversation or bits of gossip that may have been circulating, it would have, I would imagine, have been February, March, April, May of 2014.

“…It’s very hard to be certain what I heard or trying to remember what I heard because I don’t remember clearly what I heard. I do remember an allegation of sexual abuse being mentioned, I think when I initially heard that there was no reference to a child, the first
reference I think was in relation to a sexual allegation generally.”

He also said it’s possible he heard this in 2013.

He said he heard it a number of times and that he would have heard it from journalists.

He said he was “very cautious” of the information.

Asked if he would have heard it from anybody else, Mr O’Keeffe said:

“I am unable to comment on anything that may or may not identify a source.”

Judge Charleton pointed out:

“I believe there’s about five million people in the country, that is to say south and west of the border, and if you take out 12,000 of them, and there aren’t 12,000 journalists, let’s suppose there’s a thousand journalists, really and truly, that is getting me nowhere. And you feel kind of we are inquiring, well, of course we are inquiring, but we are not at the point where you are anything close to revealing a source. Really and seriously, Mr O’Keeffe, you are not. Unless I’m missing something totally, and I am off the wall in my thinking.”

Mr O’Keeffe told the tribunal:

“To me, the tribunal has a very specific terms of reference, that it is trying to get to the bottom of it. My fear is that by answering the general question, I will, if not directly, I will indirectly be answering the more specific questions, and I can’t do that.”

Mr O’Keeffe also refused to either confirm or deny if he was negatively briefed by either Martin Callinan or Noirin O’Sullivan.

And he refused to state whether he got any information from any member of An Garda Síochána.

He also said:

I personally have nothing to hide, I did nothing wrong, but it’s the principle that is at stake. That this is a principle of not doing anything that jeopardises that crucial function that the press fulfil, and that is the free-flow of information from sources that is given in confidence and that is not to be interpreted as confirming whether Superintendent Taylor is or is not a source.”

Speaking directly to the judge, Mr O’Keeffe did confirm that he had previously spoken to Mr Callinan “very, very rarely”, he had met Ms O’Sullivan and he had regular contact with Supt Taylor – as he was the head of the Garda Press Office.

Just before he finished giving evidence, Mr O’Keeffe had the following exchange with Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal:

Marrinan: “Do you believe that you have information that would impact on the workings of the Tribunal but you feel obliged to claim journalistic privilege?”

O’Keeffe: “I do feel obliged to claim journalistic privilege.”

Marrinan: “But in circumstances where otherwise you would have information to give to the Tribunal?”

O’Keeffe: “I feel I am unable to answer that question because my obligation is to protect journalistic privilege.”

Marrinan: “Well, can we exclude the possibility that you are claiming journalistic privilege just simply out of a point of principle, regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself here giving evidence to the Tribunal?

O’Keeffe: “I am not crystal clear on what you are asking me.”

Marrinan: “Can we exclude the possibility that you are merely, as a matter of course, claiming journalistic privilege here today?”

O’Keeffe: “I think it certainly would be fair to say that I am not coming up here to do something out of a matter of course. I have considered this at some length, I have attended the tribunal as well. This is a considered, and I would admit, it’s a considered position I have taken and it’s an obligation, it’s an obligation on journalists to protect sources.”

Before Mr O’Keeffe withdrew from the tribunal, the judge asked Mr O’Keeffe if he believed he had heard about a rumour concerning Sgt McCabe before the day Martin Callinan stood down from his role as Garda Commissioner, March 24, 2014.

Mr O’Keeffe said he doesn’t know.

He did confirm that, after he heard it, he did check it out but he said he couldn’t tell the tribunal who he checked it out with or what steps he took.

Judge Charleton said Mr O’Keeffe could have checked it out with his colleague Michael Clifford.

O’Keeffe: “Yes, I actually don’t know if I checked it with Mick at the time.”

Charleton: “And I am not asking you who you checked it with but do you remember who you checked it with?”

O’Keeffe: “Not clearly in terms of the various people I might have checked it with.”

They then had this exchange.

O’Keeffe: “I believe my position from the start was, this is not something I am going to follow.”

Charleton: “Right. Well, I have heard reasons why journalists don’t follow things and they all seem to me to be very sensible reasons, such as, for instance, look, there was an investigation, be it by social services or Gardaí, and you can’t publish allegations where, at the end of the day, the DPP says look, if this happened, it didn’t even amount to an assault, never mind a sexual assault.”

O’Keeffe: “I mean, it’s the worst or one of the worst conceivable allegations you could make against somebody, and what do you with it? Am I going to ring the person and put it to them? Am I going to circulate it amongst various people I might check it with, and then they go, hold on, this is Cormac O’Keeffe, he is checking out the story and this is what he said to me? So, from the get-go, you know, it’s not necessarily that I sat down and made a formal decision about it, but my instinct from the start was, this is not something I am going to pursue.

Charleton: “Yes. And that instinct was confirmed. How long did it take you to check things out?”

O’Keeffe: ” Well, given how hectic that period was between February, March, April and May when the Guerin Report was out, I’m pretty sure that it would have been in that time period.”

Charleton: “So are we talking about pretty much later on then? The 6th May 2014 is the Seán Guerin Report, critical of the previous Garda handling of the matter.”

O’Keeffe: “Yes.”

Charleton: “So would it have been after that time?”

O’Keeffe: “No, I would imagine it’s between that period of February and May, but I mean, I can’t be absolutely sure.”

Judge Charleton clarified with Mr O’Keeffe that he can’t actually say he was never negatively briefed.

Mr O’Keeffe replied: “Well, that is — certainly, in my evidence, I haven’t said that, no.”

Later on, the judge mentioned something that was “disturbing” him and that was the possibility that any journalist, in the future, could write something about the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe after having claimed privilege at the tribunal.

This is something the judge referred to on a number of occasions during the tribunal’s hearings.

Apart from the judge expressing his concern, it also seemed to be a lengthy and roundabout way of seeing if Mr O’Keeffe did actually have information relevant to the tribunal which wasn’t divulging.

The judge and Mr O’Keeffe had the following exchange.

Charleton: “One of the things that has been, I’d say the right word to use is disturbing me, is the whole notion that a journalist would come here and claim privilege and say, oh, I am not answering any of those questions, but are absolutely free, tomorrow morning, in whatever newspaper you care to mention, to write an article, yes, I was approached, and then, without naming your sources, just set out the fact that various members of the Gardaí came to you and said nasty things about Maurice McCabe.

“I mean, it seems absurd, it seems absolutely and utterly absurd that I’m sitting here trying to find stuff out and you are absolutely and completely at liberty to write such an article in the newspaper tomorrow, if you have any
information to that effect, but you are not going to tell me.”

O’Keeffe: “I have no intention of writing such an article.”

Charleton: “Well, do you have the material to write such an article?”

O’Keeffe: “Regarding revealing sources, absolutely not.”

Charleton: “No, not revealing sources, but even saying — look, you know, I have been reading newspapers all my life, and indeed it’s what I do at my lunch hour, is I read a newspaper, and I read several at the weekend so I very much enjoy newspapers and I respect those who are writing in them. But, I mean, do you actually have any information which would enable you to write a story saying, oh, I was approached or somebody told me something about Maurice McCabe? That is what Mr. Marrinan was asking you.”

O’Keeffe: “I am unable and I would not say or write anything that I believe could and would identify sources.”

Charleton: “No, I appreciate that, and we take that as an absolute given, we take that as an absolute given, as a bulwark which is never to be passed, taking that for the moment. But could you, in fact, write an article to the effect that people who you will not name approached you and told you things about Maurice McCabe, could you write such an article truthfully?”

O’Keeffe: “But this inquiry is set up for a very specific purpose with very specific named people in mind.”

Charleton: “Well, perhaps other unnamed people?”

O’Keeffe: “Well, –”

Charleton: “You see, the problem is, you would be entitled to write that article tomorrow, or let’s say the Tribunal report comes out in October and let’s suppose it exonerates everybody and then you know this but you are going to say, well, now is my chance to write this article, and then you write the article and it says that I got things wrong, and I am only a human being, after all, I can’t do anything more than assess what is there, I am not writing a work of fiction, but in the event that it was a question of completely exonerating the Gardaí of ever wishing to undermine the messenger, namely Maurice McCabe, would you ever be in a position where you could write such an article and say, well, the messenger was undermined to me by members of the Gardaí?

O’Keeffe: “I don’t see how a situation would arise where I could do anything like that that I would see now as potentially be revealing a source.”

Charleton: “Again, and this is a bit like a crossword puzzle the whole morning really, it’s trying to work out what people are actually trying to say to me. What you seem to be saying to me is that in the event that you were to write such an article, then it would be clear that the persons named in the terms of reference would somehow be implicated, is that what you —

O’Keeffe: “Sorry, Chair, that wasn’t what I meant.”

Charleton: “Well, maybe you’d help me as to what you actually did mean.”

O’Keeffe: “That I couldn’t envisage writing any such piece that you are suggesting.”

Charleton: “And does that mean you actually don’t have any information to that effect? Without revealing any sources, does it mean – that is what Mr. Marrinan asked you – that you don’t actually have any information to the effect that there was any kind of attempt, anywhere, by any garda, to say that Maurice McCabe was not the person he was cracked up to be but, in fact, had an allegation against him in the past that there might be some validity to, or anything of that variety?”

O’Keeffe: “Well, I suppose that is the fundamental issue for me, is that I believe that by — that I can’t say anything that may reveal who a source is or who is not. That is my position.”

Charleton: “I know that. But, I mean, could you ever write an article to the effect that the Tribunal got it wrong, in the event that the Tribunal exonerated the Garda?

O’Keeffe: “I’d have to ask you to ask me that question again, sorry, Chair.”

Charleton: “Could you ever write an article, if the Tribunal exonerated the Garda from ever trying to undermine the character of Maurice McCabe, saying, well, the Tribunal got it wrong because I know to the contrary? You would be absolutely entitled, as a journalist, to write such an article, by the way.”

O’Keeffe:No, I couldn’t see myself writing such an article.”

The former editor of the Irish Examiner Tim Vaughan and its special correspondent Michael Clifford also gave evidence to the tribunal and will be covered in part 2 tomorrow.

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The Mail Newspapers

 Maurice McCabe And INM

Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTÉ

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

Pics: RollingNews

Top: Sgt Maurice McCabe and above, clockwise from top left: Conor O’Donnell, Debbie McCann, Robert Cox, Alison O’Reilly and Sebastian Hamilton.

Following  the completion of evidence from Fionnan Sheahan (full report on this here), chairman of the Disclosures Tribunal Justice Peter Charleton turned to the Irish Independent editor and asked:

“Mr Sheahan…Is there anything in the world of journalism that I’m unaware of that might help me in any way as to why these completely contradictory allegations are flung up?

The judge had, to this point, heard four direct conflicts of evidence between eight journalists, often working for the same news organisations.

Justice Charleton continued:

“…I have had reference to bitterness, to careers, to jobs, to people leaving their posts. I don’t know whether it’s down to sick buildings or what it is down to, but is there any way you can assist me on this?”

Mr Sheahan, having verbally trashed a former colleague during his session minutes earlier, was unable to help the judge.

The evidence taken by journalists from Associated Newspapers Ireland, which publishes the Irish Daily Mail and the Irish Mail on Sunday, was more of the same. Only more so.

Conor O’Donnell, editor of the Irish Mail on Sunday; Sebastian Hamilton, group editor at the Irish Daily Mail; Debbie McCann, crime correspondent at the Irish Mail on Sunday; Robert Cox, deputy editor of news at the Irish Mail on Sunday; and Alison O’Reilly, of the Irish Daily Mail and formerly of the Irish Mail on Sunday, all gave evidence.

Most of their questioning was taken up with a conflict between Ms O’Reilly and Ms McCann, who had not just been colleagues but good friends.

When Labour leader Brendan Howlin told the Dáil in February 2017 that he had been contacted by a journalist who said they had “direct knowledge” [sic] of the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan telling journalists [sic] of “very serious allegations of sexual crimes having been committed by Sergeant Maurice McCabe”, he was referring to his contact with Ms O’Reilly.

She had told him that Ms McCann had told her that Ms O’Sullivan was a source of information for her about Ms D.

Ms McCann was the first journalist to call to the home of Ms D in early 2014.

This visit came about after she had first heard “murmurings” about Sgt McCabe and after she made inquiries, following the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s “disgusting” remark.

Ms McCann’s line editor, Robert Cox, told the tribunal when Mr Callinan made his “disgusting” remark at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, January 23, 2014, everything changed.

He said:

“Commissioner Callinan, once he said ‘disgusting’ it became a whole different ball game in a certain respect because there was — any allegations or anything that was in the ether, was now, had kind of — it hadn’t surfaced but there was some reason behind that disgusting remark and anybody who was following the [penalty points] story kind of was wondering what was behind it.”

Mr Cox said, around this time, and as Ms McCann told him she had heard “murmurings” about Sgt McCabe, he told her to find out more details. He said:

She came back with, that there had been an allegation, the allegation was of child sex abuse, that the person was a minor at the time of the abuse, that it was historic, and that the DPP had chosen — had decided not to press charges.”

When Ms McCann gave evidence, she said:

“I knew she was a young girl at the time. I didn’t know her exact age…I knew that they [Mr D and Sgt McCabe] were colleagues. I don’t know if I knew at that point that they had fallen out, I don’t know...I had that it was an allegation of inappropriate touching. I think I knew at the time that there may have been tickling involved, but I think that’s all I knew.”

Despite knowing that the DPP ruled against a prosecution, Ms McCann subsequently called to the D house.

Ms D wasn’t at the house at the time and, instead, Mrs D answered the door.

It’s the evidence of Ms McCann and Mrs D that Ms McCann was turned away from the door pretty much immediately.

It’s not clear what date Ms McCann called to the D house but she initially told the tribunal she thought she visited the D family in or around February 14 or 21, 2014.

When Ms McCann’s editor Conor O’Donnell gave evidence, he said:

“What happened is we sent [Ms McCann to the D house]. Nothing came of it. We did nothing more on it and we never discussed it again.”

But Ms O’Reilly – who told Sgt McCabe there were rumours circulating about him to the effect that he had sexually abused a girl when she first met him on February 28, 2014 – claims Ms McCann told her there was much more to it.

Coincidentally, around the same time, Ms O’Reilly claims she had asked Mr Cox if she could write something “positive on the whistleblowers” and she said Mr Cox said “they didn’t want any negative stories because it would piss off the gardaí and they would stop giving Debbie [McCann] stories”.

Ms O’Reilly claims Ms McCann told her that, at some point, she had spent about an hour interviewing Ms D, and that Ms McCann was able to describe in detail how Ms D held her arms as they spoke to each other.

She claims Ms McCann called Sgt McCabe a paedo, child abuser and a dirty fucking bastard.

She claims Ms McCann told her she’d heard Ms D “was in a bad way” from the former head of the Garda Press office Supt Dave Taylor and that she seemed to have been very moved emotionally by Ms D’s story.

She claims Ms McCann said the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was a source of information for her about Ms D.

She claims Ms McCann said Sgt McCabe was hated within the gardaí.

She claims Ms McCann said she had written a story on Ms D but that it wasn’t published.

And she claims Ms McCann said Mr O’Donnell wanted to publish it as an anonymous story but that Mr Hamilton didn’t want the story published as he was too cautious.

In regards to the above claims, Ms McCann, Mr O’Donnell and Mr Hamilton categorically deny them all, while Ms O’Sullivan also utterly denies being a source of information for Ms McCann.

Ms McCann refused to be drawn on her communications or conversations with Supt Taylor – who waived his right to privilege – saying she had to protect her career as a journalist “going forward”.

At one point she said:

“I am the journalist and I believe that that decision lies with me. I have a career to think about going forward. I can’t go there. I would love to go there, but I honestly cannot do that.”

In his final submission, Ms McCann’s counsel Tom Murphy recalled Ms McCann saying the quote above and added:

“This is an archetypal Catch-22: answer the question and your career will be damaged, perhaps irrevocably; don’t answer the question and your failure to do so could lead to adverse inferences, including, most seriously, a potential finding of dishonesty. Further, and despite some suggestions to the contrary, the stance adopted by Ms McCann in relation to her journalistic privilege is mirrored by other journalists…”

Mr Murphy went on to list these other journalists as Conor Lally, of The Irish Times; Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star; and John Mooney, of The Sunday Times.

Mr Murphy also recalled what Ms McCann had said to Judge Charleton a few weeks previously when she said:

“He [Supt Taylor] has waived his privilege. It is — I am the journalist, and, going forward, if I start revealing the contents of conversations that I had with people, it’s going to really damage me going forward. And I think that I am not in a different position to other journalists who have come before this Tribunal.”


The judge had replied to Ms McCann: “Well, you are [different], I’m afraid, very much, as from what I can see at the moment.”

It took Associated Newspapers five months to tell the tribunal that Ms McCann had called to the D house.

Neither Ms McCann nor Supt Taylor confirmed the fact until after the tribunal heard about it from elsewhere.

Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, asked Sebastian Hamilton if there had been a conscious decision made at the Mail “to say, okay, we are going to claim journalistic privilege, we are not going to tell the tribunal anything about any of our journalists knowing anything about the D story until such time as we see what other information the Tribunal gets?”

Mr Hamilton said: “I’m certainly not aware of any decision in those terms having been taken at all.”

Throughout Mr Hamilton’s evidence, he repeatedly stated that Ms O’Reilly had a grievance with Associated Newspapers.

Mr Hamilton’s repeated claim followed the sending of a letter – on April 18, 2018 – from the Mail’s solicitor Michael Keeley to the tribunal, which stated:

“My client believes that the state of Ms O’Reilly’s relations with them at the time she spoke with Mr Howlin is a relevant issue and was a strong motivating factor in her actions and also, in their view, cast considerable doubt on the credibility of the witness.”

Judge Charleton pointed out that a person can have a grievance with another and still tell the truth.

The judge also pointed out that, regardless, several facts weren’t immediately disclosed to the tribunal by Associated Newspapers – which had nothing to do with Ms O’Reilly.

He said:

The fact that someone goes and knocks at somebody’s door, is a fact; the fact that they speak to somebody’s mother, is a fact; the fact that you know that, your newspaper knows that, is a fact; the fact that that is nothing to do with journalistic privilege, the fact of being at the door, but nonetheless you choose not to tell us and it takes you five months to get to the point, when we already know the information, I have to put it to you. So, I mean, it’s all very well to say journalistic privilege to journalistic privilege any number of times you wish, but at the moment that doesn’t look very impressive to me.”

[The alleged grievance which Mr Hamilton was referring to is an ongoing legal action Ms O’Reilly is taking against the Mail – following the fallout of a story by Ms O’Reilly which was published in the Irish Mail on Sunday on March 27, 2016, about the Buncrana pier tragedy in which Louise James lost five family members after the Audi jeep they were in slipped off the pier and into Lough Swilly in Co Donegal.

After the story was published, Ms James complained to the newspaper and the newspaper subsequently apologised – stating Ms James had not consented to being interviewed.

When Ms O’Reilly gave evidence, she said: “I made it clear to Ms James, Chairman, that I was a journalist with the Irish Mail on Sunday, that I was doing a story and that I taped it in line with what we normally do in The Mail on Sunday, we secretly tape things for our own protection in case you are accused of fake news or in case you are attacked.”

She also said: “I have a conversation with Conor O’Donnell, who told me that I did interview Louise James and that they only apologised to her because that is what she wanted, and he wanted to know if I was okay.”

The tribunal heard that, after the IMOS story about Buncrana, there had been an internal investigation within the IMOS, and a warning had been placed on Ms O’Reilly’s record for a year.

Ms O’Reilly also signed the following statement: “I note the sanction. Just to be absolutely clear, I fully accept my error of judgement. I want to put it behind me. I want to continue working for the Mail. I want the opportunity to prove myself. I look forward to working on features and welcome any training that would be given and I embrace it. The last few months have taught me a lot of us here need to look at how wework. On the basis of that, I accept the sanction and look forward to getting back to work.”

Of this statement, Ms O’Reilly told the tribunal: “I was very heavily medicated, Chairman, and to the point where Sebastian Hamilton had actually called my representative aside and said: Should we proceed with this? I have never seen her look so bad. And that was the advice I was given in those circumstances.”]

The tribunal also heard about a possible attempt to “block” the tribunal from obtaining information.

Ms O’Reilly said the following about a meeting she had with the company’s solicitor Michael Keeley before the the tribunal’s proceedings got under way.

She said:

“Chairman, I went to a meeting with Michael Keeley after receiving a letter from the Tribunal and he asked me a series of questions and he asked me did I ever hear the rumour about Maurice McCabe being a child abuser, and I said yes, I did. And I went to tell him who it was and he put his hand up and he said, I don’t want to know.

“And I thought, well, what are we doing here? I mean, do we tell the truth or do we not tell the truth? And then he went on, maybe question five or six he said: Did you meet Maurice McCabe? I said I did. I asked him to do an interview. I said, Michael, I actually feel very sorry for Maurice McCabe. And he said — he put his pen down and he looked at me, he was sitting there, and I was sitting here, and he said: You know, nobody comes out of a Tribunal looking okay, even if they’re trying to be the good guy.

“And I said, do you know what? I’m not telling you anything. I was terrified, absolutely terrified. I felt threatened and terrified. And I thought, what is this? I knew that Debbie had been up at the house, I knew that I had been up with Maurice McCabe, and by the time he got to his very last question, as we were standing up to leave, I said I’m not telling him anything, I’m too afraid.”

Hugh Mohan SC, for Associated Newspapers, repeatedly put to Ms O’Reilly that she had “lied” to Mr Keeley when she “denied” she was Mr Howlin’s source.

Ms O’Reilly said she accepted she didn’t tell Mr Keeley, but she also said:

“I accept that I tried to tell Michael Keeley everything, and he didn’t want to know.”

Judge Charleton stepped in around this point and asked Mr Mohan if Mr Keeley accepted what Ms O’Reilly claimed Mr Keeley said – “nobody comes out of a Tribunal looking okay”.

Mr Mohan and Judge Charleton then had this exchange while Ms O’Reilly also interjected intermittently:

Mohan: “He made it clear that he did not want to be put in a position where sources were told to him in that context. I think it’s a different version of events, but in that context that was the basis of what was said.”

O’Reilly: “Chairman, he said ‘I don’t want to know’.”

Mohan: “Sorry, he did not want to know — sorry, Chairman, he did not want to be put in the position of being told sources –”

O’Reilly: “But that was my whole point, Chairman; like, what were we doing there? Why — we are meeting to not tell the Tribunal anything. I mean –”

Charleton: “So the Tribunal is writing letters to people, and what’s the result? I mean, either we actually owe allegiance to this country or we don’t. So what is the result of the Tribunal writing letters to people?”

Mohan: “Well, sorry, Mr Chairman, this information was put before you by the witness, the current witness, and my client in this case, Ms McCann, has a different version of events in relation to this. It just so happens, for yet the second time, both the parties to it have a fundamentally different version of events than this witness has given. I am challenging her credibility –”

Charleton: “Well, if you want to put a different version of a conversation, of course you are perfectly entitled to, Mr. Mohan, and I would welcome that indeed.”

Mohan: “Well, what I want to do now if I may –”

Charleton: “No, but this is actually important, because we have been spending the last year-and-a-half trying to find out things that we have been charged by the Oireachtas to do, and it is, this is our country, we owe allegiance to it. We are tasked with trying to find this information out. Now, it’s appropriate, if you have a different version of the conversation, to please put it.”

Mohan: “Sorry, the different version I am putting is that, in fact, Ms McCann did not, because she was not in contact with Nóirín O’Sullivan, ever say that Nóirín O’Sullivan had told her anything whatsoever.”

Charleton: “No, no, and I appreciate that. But it is — the Tribunal went to a lot of trouble to write an awful lot of letters to an awful lot of people, and furthermore, there were back-up letters, there were follow-up letters, many people never replied, we had to follow up in the case of some people a large number of times, and then, apparently, if anything comes up, well then I’m given a submission on this, that and the other. But this is actually important, and it’s important from the point of view of the other person having the conversation. If there’s a different version of this conversation, it should be put.”

Mohan: “Well –”

Charleton: “I am not talking about Ms McCann; I am talking about the conversation with Michael Keeley. I mean, that’s what I am talking about, that. I mean, Mr Mohan, vis-à-vis Ms O’Reilly and what she was told, what is was saying was, well, I don’t know what was behind it, I don’t know whether it was the fisherman’s tale of getting the 50-pound salmon or whether it was the truth, but what I am telling you is that it was said. So that’s one thing, I appreciate that. But then the other thing is, okay, source or no source, the Tribunal had asked for information, and I am now being told that that was blocked. Now, that’s important. If there is a different version, I really ought to know.”

Mohan: “I have an account, which you don’t have, of that attendance that Mr Keeley prepared following his conversation with Alison O’Reilly, and I have checked it, for some reason that didn’t appear, although Ms O’Reilly would be familiar with it, and I have no difficulty with that being put in. It’s Mr Keeley’s account. I can read it, if I may.”

Charleton: “Well, yes, of course, but it’s not for me, it’s for the witness.”

Mohan: “Sorry, you did ask me, I have an account –”

Charleton: “Well, I don’t know why everyone is arguing with me and parsing and analysing everything I say. Look, it is a very fundamental principle of law. It’s from the point of view of fairness to Mr Keeley, from the point of view of fairness to the witness and also from the point of view of the functionability of a tribunal in this Republic, as to whether any such thing happened. Now, of course I had no notice, and neither did you perhaps have any notice, I don’t know, Mr Mohan, certainly it’s no blame, I am not sending any in your direction at all, that in answer to your question Ms O’Reilly would tell me what she’s just told me. But from the point of view of fairness, if there is a different version of the conversation, it should be put, out of fairness to her and out of fairness to Mr Keeley as well.”

Mohan: “I wonder, I’m going to — not to waste the court’s — the Tribunal’s time, I will go on to another and come back to this. But in the meantime I will have this photocopied and circulated so everybody has a copy of it, and I will return to that point. And this will be the version dealing with the point that you have made, if I may deal with it that way?”

Charleton: “Well, it’s not exactly as if I am making a point; it is pretty fundamental.”

Mohan: “Well, no, I am happy to deal with it, absolutely.”

Charleton: “Well, that’s fine. Grand.”

Mohan: “I can read the note, but I think it might be better if everybody has a copy.”

Charleton: “Well, I’m not trying to interfere. I think you should take your own course. And I appreciate the questions you’ve put. Look, Ms O’Reilly is saying: I had the conversation, it was such and such. You are saying you couldn’t possibly have, because you never had, for instance, the Commissioner’s number, there was no record of any communication between them. That’s perfectly and utterly fair. But in the event there is an allegation of obstruction on the Tribunal, well that should be dealt with today, if possible.”

Mohan: “I’m going to get copies of the note made and I will return to that, if I may. Ms. Leader is going to make copies of it.”

Charleton: “Yes, we will facilitate you every way we can.”

The tribunal never heard any more evidence on this alleged conversation.

When Alison O’Reilly gave evidence, the tribunal heard about a text exchange she and Ms McCann had on May 9, 2014 – several months after Ms McCann had been, the tribunal heard, turned away from the door of the D house by Mrs D.

In May 2014, Ms McCann was also on maternity leave which began within weeks of calling to the D house.

The text exchange followed the publication of a report by Sean Guerin SC, whose scoping exercise of Sgt McCabe’s complaints about Cavan/Monaghan led to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015.

The tribunal was initally told the following was the sequence of texts:

O’Reilly to McCann:

“A highly respected officer held in ‘high regard’ is how judge Guerin describes McCabe.”

McCann to O’Reilly:

“I am fully aware and, to be honest, I think it’s gross. There is a very messed up girl at the heart of it and no one gives a fuck.”

McCann to O’Reilly:

“It’s a farce. Everyone knows, from politicians to cops to journos. It’s an fucking pantomime.”

McCann to O’Reilly:

“Sorry for Shatter? It’s just like a house of cards. Self-preservation is the name of the game. It’s one big sordid game. Nóirín should get the job, she’d be fab, and it’ll be the ultimate knee-jerk reaction if they go down the civilian route. I also feel for Callinan. What a way for his career to end. The tape thing is one big f-ing smokescreen designed to save political face, and at what cost? Justice will be the biggest loser if the government continues the way it’s going. It’s disgusting.”

When Ms McCann gave evidence, she told the tribunal that the sequence, as presented by Ms O’Reilly above, was incorrect and that another text was sent to her by Ms O’Reilly before her text about Ms D being a “very messed up girl”.

Ms McCann claimed this missing text had been deleted.

Ms McCann then read the missing text:

“‘Paul Williams and the Indo have an agenda against McCabe,’ says Micheál Martin to pals.”

Ms McCann told the tribunal she believes that missing text changed the whole context of the exchange.

She said: “…that “to be honest, I think it’s gross”, if you read the full context, that would suggest what I’m calling gross is the game-playing that’s happening in relation to it and not Sergeant McCabe.”


When the various legal teams presented their final submissions to Judge Charleton, Fíonán Ó Muircheartaigh BL, for Ms O’Reilly, told the tribunal:

“Debbie McCann advised the Tribunal that a text in the sequence of messages furnished by Alison O’Reilly was deleted and that it was held back to show her in a bad light. The actual sequence… shows that this is not so. Alison O’Reilly did not delete any texts.”

Mr Ó Muircheartaigh said the sequence was as follows:

O’Reilly to McCann:

“A highly respected officer held in ‘high regard’ is how judge Guerin describes McCabe.”

McCann to O’Reilly:

“I am fully aware and, to be honest, I think it’s gross. There is a very messed up girl at the heart of it and no one gives a fuck.”

O’Reilly to McCann:

‘Paul Williams and the Indo have an agenda against McCabe’, says Micheál Martin to pals.’

McCann to O’Reilly:

“It’s a farce. Everyone knows, from politicians to cops to journos. It’s an fucking pantomime.”

When Tom Murphy BL, for Ms McCann, gave his final submission on behalf of Associated Newspapers, he did not challenge the sequence of texts as read out by Mr Ó Muircheartaigh.

Mr Ó Muircheartaigh said this about the text exchange when he gave his final submission:

“This exchange occurred after the Mail had apparently decided not to run with the story concerning Ms D. This is referred to in the evidence of Debbie McCann to the Tribunal on the 8th June.

“This suggests that even after the decision to drop the story by the Mail, Debbie McCann still had a very negative perception of Sergeant McCabe.

“The Tribunal heard in evidence on the 8th June that, despite being on maternity leave, Debbie McCann continued to work on stories for her employer.

“But the following points are pertinent in that regard: Debbie McCann was the crime correspondent with the Irish Mail on Sunday; she was in regular contact with David Taylor, the head of the Garda Press Office.

“Superintendent David Taylor says he negatively briefed journalists as the opportunity arose in relation to Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s agendas and his motivation for revenge against the gardaí.

“Superintendent David Taylor says he was in touch with and discussed Debbie McCann’s visit to Ms D’s house with her in or about the time of her visit. The Mail legal team did not challenge this evidence by cross-examination.

“Debbie McCann was the first journalist to visit Ms D’s house seeking an interview with Ms D. It is unlikely that Debbie McCann did not discuss Sergeant McCabe with David Taylor.

“Debbie McCann was refused to divulge the content of any discussion she had with Superintendent David Taylor about Maurice McCabe or Ms D.

“Debbie McCann’s father, Superintendent John McCann, was aware of the historic allegations against Sergeant McCabe.

“He told the Tribunal that he did not discuss it with his daughter, and Debbie McCann concurs with that account. It is submitted that these facts suggest that the origin of Debbie McCann’s concerns regarding Sergeant McCabe and Ms D were as a result of Superintendent David Taylor and other senior gardaí.

“This contact was indicated in Debbie McCann’s conversations with Alison O’Reilly. The contact is an identifiable factor in the escalation of her interest and her express views of Sergeant McCabe and her excursion to Ms D’s house.

“Debbie McCann’s refusal to answer any questions regarding her contacts with David Taylor, notwithstanding his waiver of privilege, suggests the inference that Superintendent Taylor did brief her negatively.

“If he did not, there could be no reason for not divulging the content of those conversations. It also suggests that, whatever contacts took place, they were not confined to the formula suggested by Superintendent David Taylor in his evidence.

“If Debbie McCann had not been persuaded that Sergeant McCabe was guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor, it is difficult to rationalise how she could have expressed the views she did about Sergeant McCabe.

“The texts suggest that she continued to hold those views for some time after her visit to the D household. It seems inescapable also that Debbie McCann learned the detail of the allegations from a Garda source.

“In her direct evidence to the Tribunal she stated she knew before her visit to Ms D’s house of the issue of tickling.

“The reference to tickling only appeared in the confidential Garda investigation of the complaint, and, as far as we are aware, this was never divulged to third parties or never mentioned prior to Debbie McCann’s evidence to this Tribunal.”

Ms McCann was asked about the level of sympathy she displayed for Ms D in her text to Ms O’Reilly on May 9, 2014, when she referred to Ms D as a “very messed up girl”.

Ms McCann put her sympathy down to her very brief exchange with Mrs D at the front door of the D house in early 2014.

She said:

“I had a degree of sympathy for the girl. I didn’t know her. I had met the mother, and, from meeting the mother, I found her to be upset, I found her — I felt that she believed something had happened with her daughter and, based on that, I found that was my opinion on the matter.”

She added:

“She [Mrs D] was very clearly distressed when I knocked on her door, in the sense that she told me that she had been listening to the news and something about hearing McCabe — Sergeant McCabe being referred to as a hero. It was quite clear that she was distressed and upset, and it immediately struck me and I found just from — I found her to be credible and I found her to — that conversation that I had with her, I found that she certainly believed something had happened.”

However, it’s the evidence of Mrs D that she wasn’t upset about Sgt McCabe when they met and didn’t mention anything about hearing a news item on the radio about Sgt McCabe.

The tribunal did hear Mrs D was “horrified” when Ms McCann had “turned up on her doorstep”.

Mrs D had told the tribunal:

She [McCann] said something to me like, I know you have been going through a hard time. There’s a bit of rumours. She said something about the whistleblower and I just looked. She wasn’t directly in front of me, she was almost to the side of me. I just looked to the side of her and that was all I said, we’re not speaking to anybody. And that was all the dealings I had with her.”

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, had this exchange with Ms McCann.

McDowell: “First of all, did you have any further information, other than the allegation that you had been told about, about your source or sources and your meeting with Mrs D and her being — her looking upset?”

McCann: “No.”

McDowell: “Well, then, how could you possibly say there is a very messed-up girl at the heart of it and nobody gives an eff, how could you possibly say that?”

McCann: “Because, again, I had — I had come to that opinion based on hearing the allegation and based on meeting a mother at the door.”

McDowell: “But listen, the DPP heard the allegation.”

McCann: “Mm-hmm.”

McDowell: “Superintendent Cunningham heard the allegation.”

McCann: “Yes.”

McDowell: “He investigated it.”

McCann: “Mm-hmm.”

McDowell: “And the DPP, we now know, said that there was no offence disclosed at all.”

McCann: “Mm-hmm.”

McDowell: “So how could you come to the view that this girl had been seriously effed up by abuse in these circumstances?”

McCann: “No, I didn’t come to the view that she had been abused in any way; I came to the view that she was messed up, yes, I came to that view.”

McDowell: “By what? By what?”

McCann: “Based on the fact that her — on meeting her mother, her mother clearly believed something had happened.”

In relation to her knowledge of tickling, it was suggested to Ms McCann that she had obtained the Garda file on Sgt McCabe.

Ms McCann said: “No, I don’t. And I have never had sight of any Garda file.”

Asked where she got the idea that “tickling” was involved, Ms McCann said: “I got it from a source.”

Ms McCann was asked if the only reference in the public domain to tickling was in the Garda file would it be fair to assume that her source had access to the garda file?

Ms McCann said she didn’t know.

As mentioned above, Ms O’Reilly and Ms McCann had been close.

Ms O’Reilly told the tribunal:

“We were good friends and she [McCann] is a good journalist and I just felt that she was being used, and I felt, by using her, they were trying to use our paper. Whoever was telling her this, she believed it. And I just shared with her what Maurice McCabe had told me and how I felt about it, but again, I had no proof of anything other than his word, and he seemed quite credible to me.”

The contradictions and bitterness which replaced Ms O’Reilly and Ms McCann’s friendship left Justice Charelton, and many at the tribunal, not only mystified by ‘the world of journalism’ but this time genuinely saddened.

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Examiner

Previously: Maurice McCabe And INM

Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTE

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

Pics: RollingNews

Clockwise from top left: Sgt Maurice McCabe and Michael McDowell; Fionnan Sheahan, Colum Kenny, Terry Prone, Ian Mallon, Tom Brady and Anne Harris.

On March 25, 2014, the morning after Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s resignation, Terry Prone wrote an opinion piece for the Irish Independent.

In her article, the public relations expert said there was no need for the commissioner to have fallen on the “whistleblower sword”.

Mr Callinan had resigned in the wake of multiple scandals within the force and for describing the actions of Garda whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as “disgusting” at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing.

What Mr Callinan could have done, Ms Prone suggested, was simply talk the clock down with endless detail and strictly adhere to answers that fall within PAC’s own narrow remit.

Mr Callinan’s second mistake was not grasping what being a whistleblower meant in 2014.

According to Ms Prone:

“He [Mr Callinan] may not have understood, for example, that the minute the title whistleblower is publicly put on someone, they acquire a new role in society and a new status to match.

They are newly impregnable. They develop a sort of double-whammy credibility; if someone impugns their assumed virtue, the accuser will be disbelieved.

But even if it is provable that the whistleblower has the odd flaw, it doesn’t matter. What matters are the accusations and the stories they generate.”

Ms Prone would soon be advising Mr Callinan’s acting replacement Noirin O’Sullivan while also at the same time, as is her wont, advising Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Ms Prone’s assessment became a blueprint for Ms O’Sullivan’s public relations strategy in the next two years concerning both Sgt McCabe and the Public Accounts Committee.

Never again would a Commissioner trip up like this again.

Garda management would, from now on, openly praise Sgt McCabe without reservation.

And PAC appearances by Ms O’Sullivan would become contemptuous studies in futility.

Sgt McCabe was offered a job to help oversee the new penalty points system brought about because of his efforts.

Ms O’Sullivan in the words of one impressed journalist, had “metaphorically put her arm around” Sgt McCabe.

Meanwhile, It would be left to Garda lawyers and certain journalists to do what was necessary to cast doubt around Sgt McCabe,

And it worked, for a while.

But the contrast between Ms O’Sullivan’s show of jovial warmth and Sgt McCabe’s reality within the force proved too great.

The sheer magnitude of spin was unsustainable.

When it emerged that Ms O’Sullivan’s legal team had been instructed to attack Sgt McCabe’s motivation and integrity during the O’Higgins Commission, the narrative collapsed.

Ms O’Sullivan, along with Ms Fitzgerald, would fall to the “whistleblower sword” as a result.

The first mention of Sgt Maurice McCabe in the Irish Independent came following Martin Callinan’s appearance before PAC on Thursday, January 23, 2014.

This was the occasion when Mr Callinan described the behaviour of Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as “disgusting”.

Mr Callinan’s appearance was covered by Irish Independent Security Editor Tom Brady and its then Public Affairs Editor Shane Phelan.

There was an analysis of Mr Callinan’s performance by Mr Brady and a humorous sketch of events by Lise Hand, plus an editorial by the paper’s then editor Claire Grady.

However, Mr Callinan’s ”disgusting” remark was mentioned only once, in the seventh paragraph of Mr Brady and Mr Phelan’s article, which stated without direct quotes:

He [Martin Callinan] described the behaviour of the two whistleblowers as disgusting in opting to make unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and criminality against senior colleagues in a public forum.

However, Sgt McCabe never alleged corruption or criminality against senior officers.

On day seven of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, Chief Supt Terry McGinn, who first investigated Sgt McCabe’s allegations, gave evidence  about the nature of Sgt McCabe’s complaints.

Shief Supt McGinn said:

“In relation to Sergeant McCabe’s complaint, he particularly told me… that his complaints were not against Garda sergeants, his complaints were against Garda management and their failure to, and I summarise it here, I have other words, as I was exploring what Sergeant McCabe said to me. And he said:

‘In all of my statements and exhibits, my purpose was to highlight poor standards, poor work practices and failure by Garda management to address these issues. I am also concerned at the service provided by the Gardaí to the public. I am not alleging corruption or criminality by any members or nor have I any evidence to support this allegation‘.”

The Irish Independent‘s coverage focused on Mr Callinan’s attempts to stop Sgt McCabe from appearing before the committee the following week.

Mr Brady, in his analysis, wrote:

‘While committee members may genuinely believe they can assist in establishing the veracity of the allegations it is easy to understand why Mr Callinan should be concerned that a serving member of the force [Sgt McCabe] be allowed to hurl serious allegations of criminality against senior officers who are not there to defend themselves.’

Mr Brady added:

“He [Mr Callinan] is right in his interpretation of the move that it could seriously undermine discipline in the force if every member felt it was possible to run to a Dáil committee with a grievance.”

Dublin City University professor Colum Kenny told the tribunal that, in early 2014, Mr Brady – and RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Reynolds – told him Sgt McCabe was being investigated for child sex abuse. (full report on RTE’s coverage of Maurice McCabe here)

Mr Kenny claims this conversation came about because he had approached them to ask why they weren’t asking questions about a computer which had gone missing from Garda custody – with the disappearance having been blamed on Sgt McCabe.

Mr Kenny said he felt Mr Brady and Mr Reynolds were telling him to “cop himself on” and to “not take Sgt McCabe at face value”.

The professor also claimed the two journalists encouraged him to go and talk to gardai “up there”, which Mr Kenny took to mean gardai in Cavan/Monaghan.

Mr Kenny said the two journalists definitely did not indicate that the child sex abuse allegation was the Ms D allegation of 2006 which had been categorically dismissed by the DPP in 2007.

Mr Reynolds, who knew of the Ms D allegation and the DPP’s directions in 2013, and Mr Brady, who also heard of the Ms D allegation and the DPP’s directions in 2013, say they never had such a conversation with Mr Kenny.

Mr Brady did recall one time that he spoke about Sgt McCabe with Professor Kenny.

He said this was at a pensions protest meeting in the Alexander Hotel, Dublin in November 2016 – at which point the protected disclosures of both Sgt McCabe and Supt Taylor would have been reported upon.

Mr Brady said:

“I had a discussion with him, most of that discussion centred on the pensions and then we went on to talk about my career, had I retired, what I was doing then. I told him and he mentioned Sergeant McCabe, he said something about either had contacted him or was going to contact him.

“I said I’d written nothing about Sergeant McCabe from a personal viewpoint, that any stories I did was to do with the fallout from what Sergeant McCabe had said and the various stories that arose from it.

“On a personal basis, I had written nothing other than at one stage I checked out a rumour about sexual abuse allegations made against him, and I established that that was historic, that had taken place in 2006 and that it had been fully investigated with the Gardaí, a file to the DPP and the DPP rejected it all.

“And that was as much as I knew about it and I didn’t do anything else in connection with that or in connection with Sergeant McCabe, whom I have never spoken to either in person or I have never phoned.”

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Mr Brady about his knowledge of his colleague Paul Williams’ articles about Sgt McCabe and Ms D in April and May 2014 [full report on this in Part 1].

Mr Brady said he was aware “from talk in the newsroom” that Mr Williams was working on “some story” but that, at the time, he wasn’t sure “what exactly it was”.

Mr McDowell asked Mr Brady if he was consulted – given he had heard about the Ms D allegation in 2013, checked it out and satisfied himself that the DPP dismissed the matter – by his editorial staff in March/April/May 2014 about the decision to publish Mr Williams’ articles.

Mr Brady said no.

Asked if he was “surprised” when the Irish Independent ran the series of articles, Mr Brady said

“No, I wasn’t surprised. I’d heard the story was being done.”

Mr McDowell and Mr Brady then had this exchange:

McDowell: “We have heard from Mr [Ian] Mallon [former Group News Editor at INM] that in 2014 the Ms D allegation was widely spoken about in the Irish Independent or in INM at the time, I’m just trying to work out how you fit into the scene, knowing what you say you knew about the matter, how a story of that kind was published in those circumstances?”

Brady: “Well, I wasn’t involved at all. Nobody asked me to get involved, so I didn’t. Paul Williams worked mainly outside the newspaper, he worked on his own, he worked on quite a lot of stories, he was working on the Anglo tapes and I wasn’t involved in any of his stories.”

McDowell: “Yeah. I mean, without seeming to flatter you or cajole you in any way, I think you had a very strong reputation as a person who wrote with some degree of authority on matters to do with security in An Garda Síochána at the time, would you agree with that?”

Brady: “Well, I have a lot of experience perhaps of this.”

McDowell: “Yes. And it was generally believed that if you wrote something, it was well sourced and well regarded as likely to come from close to the top in An Garda Síochána rather than relying on station gossip and things like that?”

Brady: “Well, my practice was to go as high as I could in relation to any story, Chairman.”

McDowell: “Yes. And I’m just trying to work out, in those circumstances, you having checked it out and you having satisfied yourself there was nothing in it, how your newspaper decided to run a story which is — which was trailing a coat, so to speak, for the Ms. D allegation?”

Brady: “Well, I don’t think there was anything in the story that conflicted with the little bit of information that I had. It didn’t suggest that there was something to the allegation or suggest that…”

McDowell:Well, I understood you to say that the DPP had dismissed it, and that wasn’t simply a phrase which includes was unhappy with the evidence, it’s more than that; the DPP had said there was effectively nothing in it?

Brady: “Nothing in it, yeah, no crime.

McDowell:” And then how was it newsworthy that an allegation of no substance was or was not properly investigated?”

Brady: “Well, it wasn’t my decision, it was based on whatever Paul Williams had established from his inquiries and I was not privy to what exactly he had.”

McDowell: “Are you surprised that you weren’t consulted…”

Brady: “No.”

McDowell: “…in relation to the publication of this story?”

Brady: No, Chairman, no.

Then they later shared this exchange:

McDowell: I”‘m suggesting to you that the decision to publish the Williams stories, the articles, was in the circumstances one which revisited an issue which you had investigated and had found to have no substance whatsoever in it?

Brady: “Unfortunately, I wasn’t privy to all the information that was there. Obviously all the information that Paul Williams and perhaps others had gathered wouldhave been considered before a decision was taken. I was never consulted, I was not asked to any of the meetings, and without being privy to all the information that they had, I can’t really say.”

While the daily paper published Mr Williams’ articles about Ms D and increasingly favourable coverage of Ms O’Sullivan, the group’s Sunday edition highlighted Sgt McCabe’s version of events and his struggle to be heard.

Anne Harris, then Sunday Independent editor, told the tribunal that she first heard of the Ms D allegation from a freelance journalist at an editorial meeting in May, 2013 following a major story in her paper on the penalty points scandal.

Ms Harris said:

… I used my own sources and I set about inquiring what — if this had ever reached any sort of further currency or further — if there had been anything further on it, and I discovered that the DPP had looked into it and had discovered that this matter had been groundless.

So I was satisfied with this and I was more than happy to continue with the, with just proper, appropriate and prominent coverage of Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s concerns.”

In September 2014, following an editorial meeting, Ms Harris said Fionnan Sheahan, then group political editor, raised the matter.

Ms Harris said:

“At the end of the conference, towards the end of September, everybody had left, he’d gone out the door, he turned back, came to the office and said, because the last conversation had been about, at the conference, had been about Sergeant Maurice McCabe and he said he’s a paedophile, McCabe’s a pedophile. And I was — I was shocked.”

Mr Sheahan, now editor of the Irish Independent, denied this in the strongest terms.

He said the charge did not stand up against the work he did around the Maurice McCabe story and disputed it was even something that he would ever say.

Mr Sheahan challenged Ms Harris on a specific time and date and questioned whether he was in the country when the comment was alleged to have been made.

He said Ms Harris was driven by a grudge against him and certain editors that had begun when Denis O’Brien ousted Tony O’Reilly as INM’s largest shareholder.

Mr Sheahan said he heard about the Ms D allegation in ‘2013 going into 2014’.

Asked by Darren Lehane BL, for Anne Harris, why he had not pursued the veracity of the allegation then, Mr Sheahan said:

“I have national media awards sitting on my desk because I pursued stories as a journalist which started off with basic hard facts.

So I know the difference between gossip, rumour, innuendo and ephemera and actual hard facts that are verifiable and can be chased down and put out there into the national media…”

In a letter to the tribunal before his appearance, Mr Sheahan had actually instructed lawyers for INM to threaten defamation proceedings against Ms Harris.

However, Mr Sheahan was reminded during the tribunal that statements made at the tribunal are protected under privilege, which is itself protected in the constitution, as his paper’s majority shareholder recently discovered.

Mr Lehane asked Mr Sheahan:

“So you’re saying that Ms. Harris is abusing this Tribunal, established at great cost to the taxpayer, to ventilate a private grudge against you?

Mr Sheahan responded:

Yeah, I’m basically saying that. I also think she is quite confused, because she can’t actually specify when exactly she claims these comments were made…”

Ms Harris said she bore no ill will or grudge toward Mr Sheahan and admired, in particular, his political journalism.

Asked why she couldn’t specify a date when the alleged remark was made, Ms Harris said she believed it was late September, 2014 and could only “date it to my recollection of matters associated with it”.

In this way she recalled a moment involving Mr Sheahan prior to the alleged remark.

Ms Harris said:

“It might sound ephemeral and inconsequential to the Tribunal, Chairman, but I’ll mention it because it is an associative thing for me as I said. 

A measure of how well I got on with Fionnan Sheahan at that time was, he had an idea for a feature.

Now, features were nowhere near his interests, but he’d suggested a feature on men marrying up, and he said it’s a new phenomenon, men marrying up, George Clooney has married up, Amal, she’s a great kind of catch for George Clooney.”

Allowing for rare levity in a grim module, Justice Charelton intervened.

Charleton: “Do you mean men marrying women who are much more intelligent than they are?”

Harris: “…Exactly, that is the point he was making, you’ve got it, Chairman.”

Charleton:“I did that.”

Ms Prone, for her part, has fared better than most out of this scandal.

In September 2015, her company The Communications Clinic secured the media training contract for all senior gardai.

Between June and November 2016 alone, it was paid €92,955 for this service.

A Garda spokesman said:

“Media training programme for senior officers and managers enables An Garda Síochána to provide more spokespeople to the media in order to keep the public informed about how An Garda Síochána prevents and tackles crime.”

He added that 100 officers had availed of the training.

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And Associated Newspapers Ireland

Yesterday: Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTE

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

Pics: RollingNews

From top: left to right: Michael McDowell, Lorraine McCabe and Sgt Maurice McCabe; The Sunday Times journalist and columnist Justine McCarthy and John Mooney, Crime Correspondent for The Sunday Times; A May 6 tweet from Mr Mooney.

Before and during the Disclosures Tribunal, solicitor Elizabeth Mullan, on behalf of Justice Peter Charlelton, reached out to journalists seeking any information that could help the tribunal meet its terms of reference.

Approaches were made with reporters who may have been in contact with Supt Dave Taylor from the summer of 2012 to the summer of 2014 – when he was head of the Garda Press Office.

In his response, John Mooney, security correspondent of The Sunday Times, to whom Supt Taylor claims he negatively briefed against Sgt Maurice McCabe but which Mr Mooney says isn’t the case, replied:

“It’s my practice as a journalist not to comment on news gathering activities and/or sources of information.

“I believe that I have certain professional obligations in that regard. I note from your letter that the Tribunal will be considering the issue of journalistic privilege.”

On Friday, June 8, 2018, during the tribunal’s proceedings, a visibly exasperated Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton clashed with a separate journalist about privilege.

In the exchange,  Justice Charleton said:

“You apparently phoned him to tell him what you’d done, that is what he tells me, and then every time you are asked any question about that, you say journalistic privilege, journalistic privilege, journalistic privilege…

Well, for a start, I have to know the facts and circumstances on which you are basing that, and then, secondly, I actually need to know that you are actually telling me the truth because I can tell you, I’m not an idiot, and I have sat here for very close to 90 days, and I know…that an awful lot of people haven’t told me the truth.”

He added:

“…It’s not a question of adopting a position. If you think you have journalistic privilege, I will certainly listen to that, but you have to give me the facts and circumstances upon which you claim to base it…

“And at the moment I just can’t see how it arises, and unfortunately at the moment a reasonable person might see this as a complete smokescreen.

“I’m not saying whether I see it that way or not, but I’m here to listen.”

Mr Mooney was the first witness to give evidence the following Monday morning.

He told the tribunal he had decided to adopt a different approach to his earlier reply to Ms Mullan.

Mr Mooney said:

“I have given this matter some thought and notwithstanding the optics of this matter and the professional difficulties it poses for me, I do think it’s appropriate maybe that I do assist the Tribunal in whatever way I can.

“I personally wasn’t negatively briefed by Dave Taylor or any member of An Garda Síochána who attempted possibly to suggest that Sergeant McCabe was involved in child abuse or something like that. That didn’t happen with me.”

Mr Mooney who has worked in The Sunday Times since 2007, was the first journalist to name Sgt Maurice McCabe as having been at the centre of an internal Garda investigation into complaints about policing in the Cavan/Monaghan area.

This article was published on November 14, 2010, headlined ‘Internal inquiry clears gardai’.

In this article, Mr Mooney reported:

“An internal garda investigation into allegations of malpractice and indiscipline in the Cavan/Monaghan division has upheld complaints over the failure of officers to follow procedures, but found no evidence of corruption.

The inquiry led by Derek Byrne, an assistant garda commissioner in charge of national support services, was established two years ago to investigate claims by Maurice McCabe, a sergeant in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

…Byrne’s report was sent to Fachtna Murphy, the garda commissioner, last month. It is understood to have recommended sanctions against a number of officers, including McCabe.

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, referred to the third paragraph above and put it to him that it wasn’t true.

Mr Mooney replied:

“Well, at the time that was the information that I was provided with.”

Mr McDowell read out another line from the article which stated:

McCabe is now under investigation himself for alleged breaches of internal Garda regulations.”

Asked if this was correct, Mr Mooney said:

“My understanding of that was, when this issuing concerning the final report by Byrne/McGinn had been, I suppose, completed, that other areas had arisen. There was obviously this incident at the Hillgrove Hotel (see panel below) which I was aware or had become aware of, and I think there was the accessing information via Pulse and that kind of stuff.”

[Hillgrove Hotel in County Monaghan is where Sgt McCabe met Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne and Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn on October 11, 2010, when they informed Sgt Mcabe of the results of their investigation into his 42 complaints. During this meeting, Sgt McCabe produced PULSE print-outs to highlight his concern that  certain cases had not been followed up on. After an alleged confrontation, Byrne took the printouts from Sgt McCabe. Sgt McCabe subsequently made a complaint against Byrne and accused him of assault. The matter was investigated and the DPP ruled against a prosecution]

Mr Mooney continued:

“But just again to explain: We take a completely impartial view. If there are issues concerning, I suppose, the activities of a guard, whether he is acting rightly or wrongly, I also have to be absolutely straight down the line in our coverage of that. So there were issues around the Hillgrove Hotel, there was allegation and counter-allegations allegations being thrown, you know, quite freely around these matters. So we would have covered them and tried to cover it impartially.”

At the time of writing this article, Mr Mooney told the tribunal, he was aware of the 2006 Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe – which had been comprehensively dismissed by the DPP in April 2007.

He said it wasn’t told to him by a guard but, rather, a civilian. He subsequently checked out the rumour with a Garda source.

It should be said while he knew of the allegation in 2010, he said he wasn’t sure when he became aware of Ms D’s identity – it could have been 2014 or 2016.

Mr Mooney said he treated the Ms D matter as “gossip” and “noise” while explaining how he came to know about the allegation:

“I always kind of need to know what I don’t need to know. I had examined Sergeant McCabe’s complaints or became aware of them at that time and written a number of stories about it.

“Sergeant McCabe had made a number of very valid allegations about issues in policing in the Cavan-Monaghan area. Subsequent to that, I would have been contacted by lots of different people.

“I was working in the border area quite a lot at that time; dissident republican factions, I suppose, were becoming very active in late 2008, 2009. So meeting people up there wouldn’t have been a major issue to me.

“There was, someone made a very fleeting reference to an allegation against Sergeant McCabe. I subsequently made an inquiry about that and was told categorically that there was nothing in it.

“I didn’t pursue it any further for the simple reason that these matters are confidential by the health services, the guards and the other statutory agencies involved and I don’t think it’s appropriate for journalists to get involved in examining them or trying to second-guess any sort of proper investigation that has been taken — that is being undertaken. So, I left it at that.

“As far as I was concerned, I would be very aware of internal Garda procedures; if there was an allegation that was of any substance against a member of the force they would be at the minimum suspended.

“So the fact that Sergeant McCabe was still a sergeant would have clarified that for me. I didn’t get into looking at it in any great detail. As far as I was concerned I treat such matters as gossip and noise and that was it.”

When Mr Mooney gave evidence he was also asked about Paul Williams’ articles in the Irish Independent about Ms D and Sgt McCabe, though neither were identified, from April and May 2014.

In those four articles, Ms D complained about the 2006/2007 investigation into her complaint with Mr Williams reporting that she claimed “the incident was covered up through a botched investigation”.

In the articles, Ms D alleged the investigation was “flawed” and that she wanted to meet Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin to highlight her allegation that the matter had not been investigated properly.

One of Mr Williams’ articles also claimed Taoiseach Enda Kenny was “expected to order an investigation” into the matter.

Mr Mooney says when he read the articles, he suspected they were about Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

Mr Mooney told the tribunal he never made any further inquiries about the Ms D matter until after Katie Hannon, on RTÉ’s Prime Time, on February 9, 2017, outlined how the 2006 Ms D allegation of “dry humping” became an allegation of digital penetration, both vaginal and anal, in referral from a HSE counsellor, who had spoken with Ms D in July 2013, to Tusla and in a subsequent referral from Tusla to An Garda Síochána in May 2014.

Mr Mooney explained:

“When the matter became public following the Prime Time broadcast, I couldn’t understand the circumstances and how this thing with Tusla had arisen, so I did at the time send a message to Ms. D with a view to trying to establish what had happened.”

Mr Mooney said he identified Ms D through her father’s Facebook account.

[Mr D told the tribunal last summer that Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, contacted him via Facebook in early 2014 around the time other journalists – Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday; Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun – had called to the D family’s home. Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent, interviewed Ms D and published articles about her claim against Sgt McCabe in April and May 2014]

Ms D also gave evidence about this contact with Mr Mooney after the Prime Time programme in February 2017.

She said he had tried to contact her numerous times on Facebook.

She explained:

“I do recall I was away at a training day for a college course which I was attending, and he was Facebooking me constantly on the Saturday.

“So I explained that I was at a college course, I wasn’t able to talk. forwarded on the messages to my father and I asked my father if he would ring him and see what it was he wanted or what he wanted to speak to me about.

“I believe it may have been a couple of weeks later, once again, he had Facebooked me, and I do recall I rang him, I would say the call maybe lasted for about three minutes.

“I rang him because I wanted to know what he — why he kept at me, what he was wanting to know.

“And he made reference to — he asked me the question: Was your case investigated by the independent investigators which were looking at the Cavan-Monaghan district?”

In his article of February 12, 2017, Mr Mooney never made mention of any independent investigators and Sgt McCabe.

In terms of the DPP’s 2007 directions, Mr Mooney reported in his article: “The director of public prosecutions ruled that McCabe had no case to answer and the matters referred to did not even constitute an offence.”

The main focus of the article was on Supt Taylor and the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and his claim that he texted Ms O’Sullivan in early 2014 to tell her a journalist was going to write an article about Sgt McCabe and Ms D and that she replied “perfect”. [This is denied by Ms O’Sullivan].

Mr Mooney also referred to matters reported earlier that week by Ms Hannon concerning the false Tusla referral.

However, in addition, he reported:

In a statement issued to The Sunday Times yesterday, a solicitor instructed by the woman said she was approached by gardai from Cavan in May 2014 and informed them she had not made the complaint in question and knew nothing about the matter concerning Tusla.

My client did not know what the gardai were talking about. She did not know her counsellor had even made any referral to Tusla naming her as a complainant, nor had she made these specific allegations.

The gardai who contacted her quickly realised that Tusla had made a mistake and we understand the gardai immediately informed the child protection agency of this,” said the solicitor.

My client is deeply upset and traumatised by the events of the past week.”

This section of Mr Mooney’s article was put to Ms D when she gave evidence last summer, by Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, and they had the following exchange:

McDowell: “But the account given seems to be very wrong, in the sense that it wasn’t the Gardaí who approached you, it was your father?”

Ms D: “My father is a member of the Gardaí.”

McDowell: “I see. And then it was the Gardaí who told Tusla about the error, but it was you who did it?”

Ms D: “That’s correct.”

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, he was also asked about an interview he gave to Joe Finnegan on Northern Sound radio, which covers Cavan and Mongahan, in April 2016.

This interview was based on Mr Mooney’s sight of a leaked copy of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation report. The interview took place a day after the report had been handed to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

[The O’Higgins commission sat in private from May 2015 to December 2015 and examined allegations of poor policing in the Cavan/Monaghan district, following complaints made by Sgt McCabe]

Mr Mooney’s report on the O’Higgins findings was a couple of weeks before RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds’ broadcasts on the same which were the subject of a term of reference in the tribunal.

During the Northern Sound interview, which contained a number of significant factual errors none of which favoured Sgt McCabe, Mr Mooney said that Judge O’Higgins didn’t find gardai “were on the take” – an allegation Sgt McCabe never made.

Mr Mooney said:

“I think there is a lot of senior Gardai will be delighted with the findings about this, I think that it’s going to raise all sorts of issues for Enda Kenny in terms of when you look at Alan Shatter was removed, effectively removed from office on the basis of the Guerin Report. But it also does bring into question Maurice McCabe and some of the things that he said.”

In his report, Justice Higgins had stated unequivocally:

‘Some people, wrongly and unfairly, cast aspersions on Sergeant McCabe’s motives; others were ambivalent about them. Sergeant McCabe acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns, and the commission unreservedly accepts his bona fides.

Sergeant McCabe has shown courage, and performed a genuine public service at considerable personal cost. For this he is due the gratitude, not only of the general public, but also of An Garda Síochána.

While some of his complaints have not been upheld by this commission, Sergeant McCabe is a man of integrity, whom the public can trust in the exercise of his duties.”

Sgt McCabe subsequently sued Northern Sound and received damages.

Before Katie Hannon’s Prime Time report – on February 9, 2017, almost a year after the Northern Sound interview – Mr Mooney  spoke to RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke on Today with Seán O’Rourke.

This was in the wake of the setting of the terms of reference for what eventually became the Disclosures Tribunal and they discussed how Paul Reynolds’ reports on the O’Higgins commission were to be examined to see if they were linked to Ms O’Sullivan.

During the interview, Mr Mooney and Mr O’Rourke had the following exchange.

John Mooney: “And if I can go back to my own sort of interaction with the Garda Press Office and that kind of thing, pretty much all, a lot of communication that on — that sort of journalists who are maybe involved in reporting on matters against the Gardaí — guards tend to get threats to litigation and everything else.

“It’s not a case that you are given steers on anything, so this is a very small group of people who are involved in this. It’s not something that was spread, you know, across the media in general.

Seán O’Rourke: “Yes. But it’s going to preoccupy minds not least in this organisation here when there is a term of reference in item [g] to investigate whether Commissioner O’Sullivan used briefing material prepared in Garda Headquarters, planned and orchestrated broadcasts in RTÉ on 9th May 2016 purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins Report in which Sergeant McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible.”

Mooney: “Well, there’s a couple of different approaches you could take to that. There was a lot of people who were witnesses in the O’Higgins Commission and who were provided with draft copies and advance copies before it was published.

“And I can tell you in the days before that official publication of the O’Higgins Report there were lots of people who had possession of that. I am a little bit unsure as to why there is a belief that Nóirín O’Sullivan herself done that. Nóirín O’Sullivan doesn’t generally, to the best of my knowledge, deal with journalists. She is a very secretive sort of woman.

“Most of her actions with the media are adversarial, including those with RTÉ. So again, I can’t and I haven’t managed to find out where that specific allegation that she briefed the media, I presume you were going to say, came from, isn’t that right?”

The tribunal saw that the transcript of this interview was emailed by Amy Rose Harte, then of the Communications Clinic, to Ms O’Sullivan some two months later on April 20, 2017.

This Seán O’Rourke transcript wasn’t the only matter concerning Mr Mooney which was sent to Ms O’Sullivan from the Communications Clinic.

On July 16, 2017, at 3.51am, Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, sent an email to Ms O’Sullivan containing a link to an article written by Mr Mooney and published almost four hours earlier, just after midnight.

The article was headlined ‘Journalist denies garda chief smeared McCabe’ and it was about Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday.

[Ms McCann’s former Irish Mail on Sunday colleague Alison O’Reilly alleges that Ms McCann told her that Ms O’Sullivan and Supt Taylor were among her sources for information about Ms D. Ms McCann categorically denies this, as does Ms O’Sullivan. Ms McCann, the tribunal heard, was the first journalist to call to the D family in February 2014]

In this article, Mr Mooney reported on what he said was a “private interview” Ms McCann had with the tribunal’s investigators.

He reported:

“McCann said the research into Miss D was prompted by stories that had appeared in the Irish Independent about an unidentified woman who had complained about the garda force’s handling of an allegation of child abuse she had made.”

The tribunal never heard Ms McCann say this in evidence.

In contrast, the tribunal heard from Mr and Mrs D – as Ms D wasn’t at home at the time – that Ms McCann was the first journalist to call to the D house in late January or early February 2014 – before Mr Williams was even in contact with Mr D and, subsequently, Ms D.

It has been the evidence of Mr D and Mr Williams that it was, as a consequence of journalists such as Ms McCann and Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun, calling to the D family that prompted Ms D to speak to Mr Williams [though it’s the evidence of Ms Murray that she was at the house after Mr Williams].

The claim that Ms McCann was prompted by Mr Williams’ articles doesn’t make sense.

The tribunal heard she went to the D house in either January or February 2014 while Mr Williams’ first article on Ms D wasn’t published until April 12, 2014, after having interviewed Ms D on March 8, 2014 – part of which was videoed.

When Ms McCann gave evidence, she told the tribunal she had heard “murmurings” about Sgt McCabe around February 2014, made inquiries with a number of sources and then called to the D house – from which she was turned away by Mrs D.

Ms McCann is invoking privilege about her sources.

She told the tribunal that she would speak to Mr Williams “occasionally” and “he’s not somebody that I would speak to on an ongoing basis, or anything like that”.

Ms McCann also said she didn’t know Mr Williams had been to the D house in March 2014 and she didn’t know this until she saw his first article on April 12, 2014, at which point Ms McCann was on maternity leave.

Ms McCann said:

“I don’t know afterwards if he would have told me – possibly – but I didn’t know that he was there and I didn’t learn about this until I read it in the newspaper.”

Coincidentally, Mr Mooney’s article about Ms McCann appeared the very day before the D family gave evidence, on July 17, 2017, when they outlined how Ms McCann was the first journalist to call to their house and, as previously mentioned, it was a consequence of her and Ms Murray’s separate visits to the house that Ms D spoke to Mr Williams.

It wasn’t explained to the tribunal why the Seán O’Rourke transcript and the article about Ms McCann were sent by the Communications Clinic to Ms O’Sullivan but the tribunal did hear the Communications Clinic is paid to work on strategic communications with the Garda Press Office.

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, Mr McDowell put to him that it had been the evidence of Ms McCann that she didn’t believe being told the facts about Ms D and Sgt McCabe – that there had been an allegation made against Sgt McCabe, that there had been an investigation and that the DPP didn’t seek a prosecution – would constitute a “negative briefing”.

Mr McDowell asked Mr Mooney for his view.

Mr Mooney said:

“I suppose it would depend on the way it’s being said. If I can be really, really straight. When I initially checked this out and this reference was made to me, and it wasn’t a member of An Garda Síochána, I take the approach of trying to deal with senior police officers who are in a position of knowledge and would know, in other words may have access to the relevant files, they would by their rank have to know about these issues or have an independent and good understanding of it, and certainly when I asked the question, quote-unquote, there is nothing in this was said to me, in terms of, you know — like, that’s — that’s what I was told.”

Mr McDowell also asked Mr Mooney if he thought Supt Taylor was “entitled” to confirm the same facts to Mr Williams and Mr Mooney said: “Honestly speaking, no.”

Judge Charleton pointed out that, as a matter of fact, Supt Taylor wasn’t entitled to do so because the Garda Press Office does not comment on individual cases.

Mr Mooney went on to say:

“My view on that is, is that I personally — I can’t speak for the actions of other journalists, but my own personal belief is these matters are dealt with in a system, I believe in that system, and I don’t think it’s really helpful to anyone to have these matters thrashed out in any public forum, particularly when it’s an offence of this type. And I have to be frank with you, I haven’t encountered it in any other sphere in terms of information being relayed about these type of allegations to anyone.”

Mr McDowell put it to Mr Mooney that it’s his (McDowell’s) belief that to give “corroboration to that inquiry” amounts to a negative briefing.

Mr Mooney said he accepted Mr McDowell’s view and later said:

“Chairman, I take both sides, but I suppose the fact of the matter is, if something is published that is where it maybe becomes an issue, if that makes sense.”

In one of his final questions to Mr Mooney, Mr McDowell asked him if could recall saying on the radio [in his interview on Northern Sound] that there was “no substance” to the majority of complaints in the dossier that Sgt McCabe gave to Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin – this dossier lead to the O’Higgins inquiry.

Mr Mooney replied:

“Sorry, I think some of them, they were maybe embellished and matters like that, but I have to say, the real issue with this and having reported on it for unfortunately too long, is that allegations are made, they mutate into something else and then it becomes something else.

“Now, in the various materials that we have published about Sergeant McCabe we have stressed that I believed he was acting in the public interest, but in saying that, I think some things possibly may have been said in haste or whatever, and that they were inaccurate. And we have a duty to report that as well. But we don’t always get it right. But we would try keep it straight down the line.”

Mr McDowell clarified with Mr Mooney that he wasn’t trying to blame Mr Mooney.

Instead, Mr McDowell said, Mr Mooney wouldn’t have said what he said on Northern Sound unless he had been told by somebody that there was no substance to the complaints.

Mr McDowell put it to Mr Mooney: “You wouldn’t have invented that as a thought of your own.”

Mr Mooney said: “That’s correct” before adding:

“But we had — again, I go back, allegations are made, more allegations are made. At this point in time, I couldn’t even describe all the allegations that have been made because there’s so many of them.

“But I do think it’s important to say, and we published this and we published this right at the very beginning in 2009, I might have even written it in 2008 that Sergeant McCabe was acting in the public interest.”

The Garda legal team had no questions for Mr Mooney.

In the Garda legal team’s final submissions, Shane Murphy SC, for An Garda Síochána, did recall the evidence of Mr Mooney – along with Micheal O’Toole of the Irish Daily Star, and Conor Lally, of The Irish Times – that they had heard the allegation against Sgt McCabe as early as 2010 and heard it from a non-Garda source.

This, Mr Murphy said, was “long before the period being considered by this tribunal and indeed before the beginning of the alleged campaign which Superintendent Taylor alleged he was instructed and directed to begin, in the middle of 2013”.

Mr Murphy referred to Mr Mooney, Mr O’Toole and Mr Lally’s evidence collectively three times in his final submission.

Justine McCarthy, of The Sunday Times, also appeared before the tribunal.

On the same day Mr Mooney published his article, on February 12, 2017, after Katie Hannon’s Prime Time report, which contained a quote from Ms D’s solicitor – the content of which Ms D told the tribunal was incorrect – Ms McCarthy wrote an opinion piece about Sgt McCabe.

The piece headlined ‘Name and shame the rumour-mongers who slurred Maurice McCabe’ recalled the April and May 2014 articles by Paul Williams in the Irish Independent.

Ms McCarthy wrote:

“Any journalist who had contemplated reporting on the allegations of misconduct being made by the whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe recognised him as the unidentified garda in Williams’s story.

“For we had been warned to treat McCabe with the utmost suspicion. Generally, it was crime reporters who received the warning from their garda sources, and relayed a tread-carefully SOS to non-crime beat colleagues, who get shorter shrift from the garda press office.”

In her opinion piece, Ms McCarthy asked if it was a coincidence that Mr Williams’ articles started to appear in the same month that Tusla created separate files on Sgt McCabe’s children “erroneously stating that he stood accused of penetrative child sexual assault?”

Ms McCarthy was asked by the tribunal’s counsel about this article.

She explained the piece was an opinion piece and that in regards to the line “generally it was crime reporters who received the warning”, Ms McCarthy said this was her impression “knowing how the system works”.

She also wrote:

“None of this is to impute wrongdoing by Williams, Reynolds or their colleagues. Journalists rely on contacts for information, protecting source’s anonymity is a cherished principle of the trade, but in this case trust was demolished in the relationship between some journalists and their sources. The debt is cancelled.

“Even in media outlets that refrain from reporting the spurious claims, the campaign to vilify McCabe exerted a chilling effect and is partly the reason this controversy has gone on for years. Apart from the anguish this caused the sergeant, his wife and their children, the relentless denigration of McCabe put the safety of Irish citizens at risk by deferring urgent examination of what is rotten in the country’s law enforcement. That is not to mention how such vicious campaign has accelerated the disintegration of public morality.

“Journalists, even if inadvertently, facilitated it by not properly interrogating the false rumours against McCabe. There is an onus on us now to correct the record. We can start by dispensing with the shield of protecting our sources. Why protect a source on whom you cannot rely to tell the truth? Those of us who know the identities of the rumour-mongers have a duty to the Charleton Commission and name those names. The journalist’s first obligation is to the truth.”

Ms McCarthy told the tribunal she believed the story was a “huge public interest story”.

She said:

“I suppose what I was talking about was the use of State agencies to undermine a whistleblower who was trying to put into the public domain information that was in the public interest.”

The tribunal heard when Ms McCarthy responded to the tribunal and wrote to the tribunal in December 2017, she gave the following view of journalistic privilege.

She said:

“My view on journalists obligations to protect sources is that it is a fundamental value designed to facilitate the emergence of information which is in the public interest. However, I believe that the obligation falls if a journalist’s source knowingly conveys false information for the purpose of damaging somebody’s reputation. In those circumstances I believe it’s a journalist’s duty to expose that wrongdoing. This doesn’t prevent the difficulty of course of ascertaining the source’s intentions and knowledge about the veracity or lack of it of the information conveyed.”

Ms McCarthy told the tribunal she was told about the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe by another journalist in 2013.

She said she was told shortly after she wrote about the profiling of a Traveller baby on PULSE in March 2013.

On being told this, Ms McCarthy said:

“I didn’t need to make a note because I was stopped in my tracks by what he told me. I was horrified. I have written a huge amount over the past two decades about child sexual abuse, I would nearly say it was my specialist subject, and the idea that this man had been accused of sexually abusing a child utterly shocked me.”

“I can’t remember the specific words that were said to me, but the impression I came away from the conversation with was that Sergeant McCabe had been accused of sexually abusing a child and that the issue had not been concluded.”

“…My impression was that it had not been investigated to conclusion.”

The tribunal heard Ms McCarthy, within days of hearing the Ms D allegation, made her own inquiries and learned that there had been an investigation, that a file had gone to the DPP and that there was no prosecution.

She said:

“I was told that not only had the DPP decided not to prosecute but the DPP had said no offence had been disclosed. That satisfied, was one of the reasons that I felt satisfied in my mind that the information that I had been given was not true.”

Ms McCarthy said when she was told of the Ms D matter, her exchange with the journalist wasn’t accompanied by any negative briefing of Sgt McCabe, and it wasn’t linked to his whistleblowing in any way.

Conor Dignam SC, for An Garda Síochána, asked Ms McCarthy several questions.

They had this exchange.

Conor Dignam: “…you have some journalists and some politicians who, on their account of things, were either told that one or both of the former commissioners were conducting a smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe by alleging various things against him but including this no-smoke-without-fire concept in relation to the sexual abuse allegations and, on one journalist’s account and two politicians’ accounts, this allegation was made to them directly by former Commissioner Callinan, but they didn’t pursue that either as a political matter or from a journalist point of view as a story, does that surprise you?

Justine McCarthy: “No. No, that doesn’t surprise me to write a story like that would have been extremely hard and it would have been very hard to find an organisation that would have published it. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that, just because journalists didn’t write this story, doesn’t mean that they didn’t disseminate the information.”

Dignam: “I appreciate that. But the evidence which has yet to be heard but from what we know from statements given to the Tribunal is that this information was simply received and nothing further was done. I take it your point about the difficulties of publishing a story like that, the difficulties of proving facts et cetera, but presumably a journalist, and particularly an investigative journalist’s modus operandi and objective is to dig out difficult stories and to hold power to account as we have heard over the last couple of days, but no such steps were taken to even investigate the story that the Commissioner was involved in or participating in or conducting a smear campaign?

McCarthy: “The first time I heard of a campaign was in relation to what David Taylor said.”

Dignam: “Could I be clear, this isn’t a criticism directed at you, Ms. McCarthy?”

McCarthy: “No, I understand that. No, I am just trying to explain that before the Taylor claim of a campaign I wouldn’t have thought of a campaign in my head. But there certainly were people spreading this story about Maurice McCabe.”

[Two days after an article by Ms McCarthy appeared in The Sunday Times, on July 23, 2017, about the evidence Paul Williams had just given to the tribunal, The Sunday Times published a clarification and apology to Mr Williams, Ciaran McGowan, a son of Nóirín O’Sullivan, and Independent News and Media. Ms McCarthy had erroneously stated that Mr McGowan was the videographer used by Mr Williams when he interviewed Ms D]

Monday: Maurice McCabe And INM

Yesterday: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Wednesday: Maurice McCabe and The Irish Times: Part 1

Tuesday: Maurice McCabe And RTÈ

Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe  (top) and, above clockwise, from top left: David Davin Power; Marian Finucane, Philip Boucher Hayes, Paul Reynolds, Katie Hannon, Sean O’Rourke and Gerald Kean.

RTÉ’s approach toward Garda whistleblower Sgt McCabe mirrored standard psychological police interrogation procedure: Good cop, bad cop.

While RTÉ News portrayed Maurice as a reckless outsider whose grievances didn’t stack up, RTÉ journalists on shows such as ‘Prime Time’ and Radio One’s ‘Drivetime’ conveyed the more nuanced reality.

Stephen Rae’s Irish Independent and Anne Harris’s Sunday Independent conducted a similar double act at Independent News and Media.

The tribunal, overseen by Judge Peter Charleton with a report due in October, has examined allegations made by former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor that he was instructed by former Commissioner Martin Callinan, with the knowledge of then Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, to convey to journalists that an investigation into the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe  was the “root cause” of Sgt McCabe’s whistleblowing.

[The DPP ruled Ms D’s allegation had no foundation in April 2007 while Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan both deny the claims]

Supt Taylor also said, in his protected disclosure, that he was also to convey to journalists that Sgt McCabe “refused” to cooperate with an internal investigation into the penalty points controversy which was carried out by Asst Commissioner John O’Mahony.

Specifically, Supt Taylor said:

“I was instructed by the Commissioner to brief the media that Sergeant McCabe had refused to cooperate with Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony. I later found out that this was untrue.”

RTÉ’s Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds said he met Martin Callinan in a bathroom in Leinster House following the then Garda Commissioner’s appearance at the Public Accounts Committee hearing on Thursday, January 23, 2014.

This was the occassion when, with Ms O’Sullivan by his side, Mr Callinan called the actions of whistleblowers former Garda John Wilson and Sgt McCabe “disgusting”.

At this time, Mr Reynolds was aware of the Ms D allegation but, similar to the evidence of other journalists – such as Conor Lally, of The Irish Times, Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, and John Mooney, of The Sunday Times – Mr Reynolds said the matter never concerned him because of his knowledge of the DPP’s directions in relation to it.

Mr Reynolds said he never believed the Ms D allegation was the reason for Sgt McCabe making complaints about policing in Cavan/Monaghan.

He also said Ms O’Sullivan – with whom he said he would have risen with “through the ranks” over their respective 30-year careers – wasn’t the source for that information.

While in the bathroom, Mr Reynolds indicated Mr Callinan had regretted making the remark.

Mr Reynolds told the Disclosures Tribunal:

” I was washing my hands and he said to me…he said, he shook his head and knew he shouldn’t have said the word disgusting.

“…I was, if you like, going in and he was coming out and I caught his eyes and he just said — that was it…  it was just sort of a — you know, he just knew — he knew he shouldn’t have done it.”

Questioned about this encounter by Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, it was indicated that Mr Callinan showed a different attitude about his remark to Mr Reynolds than to other witnesses who said Mr Callinan remained firm on the comment.

Mr McDowell also suggested that it demonstrated Mr Callinan was “on close terms” with Mr Reynolds and “in a position to trust [Mr Reynolds] not to go and report that Mr Callinan shook his head and regretted the remark”.

Mr Reynolds said: “It’s just a human moment, really, you know. It doesn’t suggest anything.”

Mr McDowell put it to Mr Reynolds that he never reported the matter.

Mr Reynolds said he did, only two months later, on the day Mr Callinan retired (more on this below).

A few days after Mr Callinan went before PAC, on Sunday, January 26, 2014, celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean was a panellist on RTE’s Marian Finucane Show.

This was just a few days before Sgt McCabe appeared before the PAC himself, in private, on January 30, 2014.

Mr Kean had received a briefing from Mr Callinan before the show and told the Disclosures Tribunal Mr Callinan instructed him not to reveal that he [Callinan] was his source of information – a claim Mr Callinan denied.

Mr Kean also told the tribunal that Mr Callinan said Sgt McCabe was troublesome, obstructive, difficult – a claim which Mr Callinan also denies.

During the panel discussion, Mr Kean emphatically told the panel that Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson did not cooperate with Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney during his investigation of the claims about penalty points.

[Since October 2012, Mr O’Mahony had been leading Operation Squeeze which was investigating the penalty points controversy internally for An Garda Siochana. His report was eventually published in May 2013]

Mr Kean told Ms Finucane and her 330,000-plus listeners:

“…what I’m saying is they did not cooperate with that investigation…you can’t investigate it thoroughly when an inspector is set up to investigate and the two whistleblowers don’t cooperate, they don’t cooperate…”

Mr Kean was not challenged in this assertion by the host.

After the show was finished, Mr Kean called Mr Callinan and they spoke to each other for 7 minutes and 51 seconds.

This phone call would have taken place after an RTE producer told Mr Kean that Sgt McCabe had rang in to complain about the comments Mr Kean made on the show.

Mr Kean told the tribunal that he probably would have defended himself to the RTÉ producer at this point with the explanation that he got his information from the Commissioner.

Mr Kean said:

“My recollection is I said, you know, I certainly at that stage would have, my recollection is, said to the producer I got this from the Commissioner…”

[A few days after Mr Kean gave evidence to the tribunal, Ms Finucane – during a slot on the tribunal and Mr Kean’s evidence on her show- told her listeners: “We had no idea. He didn’t tell us that he had been talking to the Commissioner.” Ms Finucane didn’t clarify if she meant before the show, after the show, or both]

Mr Kean told the tribunal that when he spoke to Mr Callinan after the show, the then Garda Commissioner “stuck to his guns” and didn’t back down, and he said what he told Mr Kean was correct.

The solicitor said this call was made “in a panic”.

The tribunal has heard that Sgt McCabe went on to send a written complaint to Mr Kean about the comments he made on the Marian Finucane Show.

The solicitor then sent Sgt McCabe’s letter to Mr Callinan – by courier – with a cover letter in which he asked for Mr Callinan for assistance and, with the letter, Mr Kean attached a draft response he [Mr Kean] had written.

Specifically, Mr Kean wrote to Mr Callinan:

“Dear Martin, I enclose copy letter which I have received from Maurice McCabe. I am also enclosing draft response. I have not sent these letters to the other person. I would be grateful if you could look at the letter that I have received and my proposed draft response. I need to be factually accurate and any assistance would be appreciated.”

The tribunal heard there was a typo in this letter and the bit that says “the other person” should read “any other person”.

Then, on February 12, 2014, Mr Callinan’s private secretary Frank Walsh relayed to Mr Kean four paragraphs written by Mr Callinan and these were inserted into the letter Mr Kean sent to Sgt McCabe.

This occurred during a meeting at 11.30am in Mr Kean’s office in Dublin – following two texts sent from Mr Callinan to Mr Kean before 8am that morning.

The paragraphs, written in the first person, stated:

“Can I first of all say that I am invited on several radio and television programmes…where I voice my opinion as I am entitled to do….”

“The subject of the FCPS on the show that day as part of the programme was well aired in the public domain previously and so I was aware that you and your colleagues were advised to contact Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony and his team if you had any complaints to make without prejudice to the confidential reporting system. That was the point I was making about cooperation with the investigation.”

“It was also the case, of course, that the Data Protection Commissioner’s views are well-known in the context of personal and sensitive data being aired in public. I fully agree with his views and I made this point on the radio.”

“I have no doubt that GSOC investigation will fully examine all of these matters and address any wrongdoing.”

These paragraphs ended up, verbatim, in Mr Kean’s response to Sgt McCabe.

Mr Walsh claims neither Mr Callinan nor Mr Kean – whom he’s known for 30 years – told him that Mr Callinan had briefed Mr Kean before he went on the Marian Finucane Show.

None of this correspondence was disclosed to the tribunal by either An Garda Siochana, Mr Callinan or Mr Kean but, instead, was found after a barrister for the tribunal, Patrick Marrinan SC, searched through hundreds of thousands of documents.

In addition, Mr Kean’s letter to Mr Callinan – asking for help – wasn’t put on the commissioner’s register of correspondence.

Mr Callinan also didn’t disclose to the tribunal details of his phone conversations with Mr Kean ahead of the radio show in his statement to the tribunal.

By way of an explanation for this, Mr Callinan said he had forgotten about the calls until he received further documentation from the tribunal.

Mr Callinan told the tribunal that the allegation Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson hadn’t cooperated with Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney’s investigation was something he had previously stated at the PAC meeting of January 23, 2014.

However, he conceded his interactions with Mr Kean weren’t his finest hour.

Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson took action over the comments made by Gerald Kean and RTÉ subsequently paid out in excess of €180,000 in damages and costs as a result of the comments.

Mr Kean’s request for help from Mr Callinan was described as “really, really, really strange” by Judge Peter Charleton.

The day after Sgt McCabe appeared at the Public Accounts Committee (Thursday, January 30, 2014) – and just under a week after Mr Kean’s comments on the Marian Finucane Show – the Director of Communications at An Garda Síochána, Andrew McLindon wrote an email to Mr Callinan, on Friday, January 31, 2014, proposing that he appear on RTÉ One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show to “turn the conversation back to the positive activities of An Garda Siochana”.

The email stated:

Subject: Potential PR activity re: FCPN & Positive News


For your consideration, in order to provide some balance and context to the on-going coverage over the FCPN matter, and to turn the conversation back to the positive activities of AGS, I propose the following to take place next week.

1. Pre-recorded interview with yourself and Sean O’Rourke to address issues in relation to the FCPN, but also your career, the great work carried out by members of AGS every day of the week, intelligence-led policing [REDACTED], [REDACTED] investigation, and the values of AGS. I have attached a document outlining some of the potential key messages for guidance. The areas for discussion are subject to agreement with Sean O’Rourke and his producer. In order for us to agree to this interview, Sean O’Rourke will have to give a commitment that the interview is not dominated or solely focused on the FCPN issue.

2. In tandem, press release sent to national media announcing the following initiatives (subject to them being agreed to) to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring the credibility of the FCPN process:

– Monthly releases of latest FCPN audit figures
– Invitation for PAC members to visit FCPN centre in Thurles
– Intention to publish FCPN policies and procedures when feedback from DPP and Inspectorate received
-Detail on the level of current terminations vs level of terminations in C&AG and O’Mahoney reports


The tribunal heard Mr McLindon also proposed Mr Callinan say the following when asked about the “disgusting” remark:

“Firstly, I want to make it quite clear that this was not a comment on the individuals and I didn’t say I found them personally disgusting. As I made very clear to the committee, the individuals are involved in High Court actions against the state, so I didn’t and won’t be commenting on them individually.”

Mr Callinan didn’t agree to the proposal.

The tribunal didn’t hear if Mr McLindon had pitched the idea to RTÉ before putting it to Mr Callinan.

February 2014

Mr McLindon said that on Monday, February 3, 2014, he received a phone call at around 9am from Mr Callinan “to say that he had considered it [the Sean O’Rourke proposal] but he wasn’t prepared to change his position at this time”.

When Mr Callinan gave evidence he said if he was “seen to be making excuses”, it might have worsened the problem.

It was put to him that he could have just apologised – without making an excuse – and Mr Callinan said:

“…the fact is I had a particular view of what was happening and that it shouldn’t be happening.”

Later that month, on February 24, 2014, Mr Reynolds reported on the internal investigation into the penalty points controversy by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney.

At around 5pm, Mr Reynolds reported on Mr Callinan’s claim that Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson didn’t cooperate with Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney’s investigation.

The tribunal has heard Mr Reynolds’ report didn’t include the words “refused to cooperate” – which, as mentioned above, Supt Taylor claimed in his protected disclosure he was instructed to tell journalists.

However, M Reynolds reported:

“The Garda Commissioner wrote to the whistleblower Sergeant McCabe, Maurice McCabe, 14 months ago and told him to cooperate with the investigation into allegations that penalty points had been cancelled.

“Martin Callinan issued a direction to the sergeant on the 14th December 2012 to cooperate with the investigation being carried out by the Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony and directing him to bring any information or concerns he had to the inquiry team.”

“The Garda Síochána is a disciplined force and members are required to comply with directions issued by the Commissioner.”

“…Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony told the PAC that he was contacted on 13 April 2013 after he had forwarded his investigation report to the Minister for Justice.

“The Assistant Commissioner said he asked the Sergeant if he had any information for him and offered to sit down with him and give him ‘a fair hearing’.

Sean Gillane SC, for RTÉ, told the tribunal Mr Reynolds attempted to contact Sgt McCabe before he made this report.

However, it was Sgt McCabe’s evidence that he couldn’t recall Mr Reynolds trying to contact him before the report.

In any event, later that evening Sgt McCabe gave a statement to Katie Hannon, of RTE’s Prime Time.

The statement said:

“My attention has been drawn by members of the media today to a statement or press release that appears to have been released to the media earlier today in relation to me.

“The unheaded statement or press release is, I regret to say, both gravely misleading and false. It suggests that the Garda Commissioner wrote to me 14 months ago and told me to cooperate with the investigation into the allegation that penalty points had been cancelled, claims that the Commissioner issued a direction to me to cooperate with the investigation being carried out by the assistant commissioner and directing me to bring any information or concerns I had to the inquiry team.

“It goes on to say that the Garda Síochána is a disciplined force and that members are required to comply with directions issued by the Commissioner, implying that I wrongly failed to comply with the Commissioner’s directions to cooperate.

“The statement further suggests that I did not comply with the Commissioner’s direction during a period when I was on sick leave and that I did not contact the assistant commissioner until April 2013, by which time the investigation had been completed. I was never directed by the Commissioner to cooperate with the O’Mahony investigation, as alleged.”

Ms Hannon also revealed on Prime Time that evening a transcript of the conversation Sgt McCabe had with Chief Supt Mark Curran who delivered this “instruction” to Sgt McCabe on December 14, 2012 – as Sgt McCabe had recorded the conversation.

This transcript can be read here.

The tribunal heard much debate over this “direction” or “invitation” from Mr Callinan.

When asked about what exactly he believed it was, Mr Callinan said:

“…it was intended a direction to desist from what was going on at the time, printing off Pulse records that were subsequently disclosed to third parties, and the last sentence of that direction dealt with an invitation to Sergeant McCabe and John Wilson, if they had any further concerns regarding the fixed charge penalty issue, that they should take them up with the assistant commissioner..”

On the evening Supt Curran spoke to Sgt McCabe, Sgt McCabe told Supt Curran he had not printed off Pulse records or disclosed them to third parties.

A few days before Supt Curran’s visit, Garda John Wilson had been found printing off records from the Pulse computer system in Cavan.

Specifically, Judge Charleton had this exchange with Mr Gillane SC, for RTE:

Judge Charleton: “The first was a direction [in regards to Pulse], certainly…The second was like an invitation to dinner, which is not a compulsion, you will come to my house for dinner tonight, it was an invitation that if you wished to raise anything, well then you have your channel, it’s assistant commissioner. ”

Sean Gillane: “And that is why, in fairness, Chairman, I was asking the former commissioner what he meant by it and whether ‘direction’ covered the paragraph, and he has given his answer in that regard.”

Charleton: “On the plain wording of the text, it doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean that Mr Reynolds was out to mislead the Irish public.”

The judge did later add:

“We all know the Garda Síochána is supposed to be a disciplined force. I mean, why does RTÉ have to tell us that? I don’t know.”

When Mr Callinan gave evidence, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, put it to Mr Callinan that Mr Reynolds’ report came directly from An Garda Síochána.

Mr Callinan told the tribunal that he didn’t know where the report came from.

Mr McDowell suggested the report was wholly misleading.

Judge Charleton said:

“The most misleading bit, if it is misleading at all, would seem to be the paragraph saying ‘Assistant Commissioner told the Public Accounts Committee that he asked the sergeant if he had any information, offered to sit down with him and give him a fair hearing.’ I mean, as I understand the evidence, Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony and Maurice McCabe never communicated over this issue.”

Mr McDowell told the tribunal that Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney extended an invitation to Sgt McCabe after he had completed his report and on foot of Sgt McCabe complaining to Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney for not including him in the investigation’s process.

Mr McDowell argued that the report made it look as if Sgt McCabe hadn’t cooperated.

Mr Callinan insisted Sgt McCabe “didn’t take up the invitation”.

Judge Charleton said:

If I was reading that, coming to the whole thing completely fresh, I’d say oh and look, during the course of the investigation Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony actually rang him up and offered to sit down with him and give him a fair hearing, but it wasn’t, that was later on….

“..this seems to give the impression that Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony was free to contact him which you say he wasn’t and that he did contact him, which he didn’t, during the currency of the preparation of the report, and instead, it put something that happened afterwards when Sergeant McCabe had, if you like, revealed himself into a context which doesn’t fit. That seems to be what’s happening there.”

Mr Callinan agreed with Judge Charleton’s summation.

Mr McDowell repeated again to Mr Callinan that the source of Mr Reynolds’ report was Garda HQ, prompting Mr Gillane SC, for RTE asking: “On what possible evidential basis can this question be put to this witness [Callinan]?”

Judge Charleton quipped: “…on the basis that no one is ever going to tell me what the source was. I think that is the basis..”

Conor Dignam SC, for An Garda Siochana, told the tribunal, in regards to Sgt McCabe’s claim – in his statement to Ms Hannon – that Mr Reynolds’ report was based on an “unheaded statement or press release”, that “there is, in fact, no document described as unheaded press release or press statement”.

Judge Charleton responded: “At the moment there doesn’t seem to be.”

Later, when Mr Reynolds gave evidence, he explained to the the tribunal how he came to write his reports on February 24, 2014.

His first report about the matter went on the RTE website at 14.28pm – after he got sight of the letter which was read out to Sgt McCabe in December 2014 by Chief Supt Curran.

Mr Reynolds said he didn’t get it from Supt Taylor and that he got it from someone else.

Mr Reynolds said after this story went up online, he sought an on-the-record response from Garda Headquarters and Sgt McCabe.

He said, within about 90 minutes, he received an on-the-record response from Supt Taylor which stated that the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan told Sgt McCabe to cooperate with the O’Mahony investigation.

Mr Reynolds then updated his story at around 4pm.

Later that day, Sgt McCabe gave a response to Katie Hannon of RTÉ’s Prime Time and Mr Reynolds said he then incorporated Sgt McCabe’s response into his reports later that evening and the following morning.

The tribunal saw that, a few days after Mr Reynolds’ report on the O’Mahony investigation, John Burke, of RTÉs This Week radio show, wrote to the Garda Press Office:

“In light of statements given in the Dáil during the week and the statement by Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe with regard to whether Sergeant McCabe cooperated with the O’Mahony inquiry into penalty points, can you please inform RTÉ’s This Week programme whether the Garda Commissioner wishes to add or amend any remarks he has put into the public domain or which have been attributed to him with regard to this matter.”

In response, Tony Connaughton, of the Garda Press Office, wrote back to Mr Burke saying:

The Garda Commissioner wishes to confirm that he did not put any remarks into the public domain. Any comments that the Garda Commissioner wishes to put on the public record will be by way of official statement issued by the Garda Press Office or face-to-face interviews quoting what the Garda Commissioner wishes to convey.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission have been appointed to investigate this matter, and therefore it is inappropriate to comment.”

So. Mr Reynolds told the tribunal he did a report for RTE based on an on-the-record statement from Garda HQ – via Supt Taylor – but Mr Callinan, via the Garda Press Office, later told a separate RTE reporter that Mr Callinan did not put any remarks into the public domain and that the matter was being investigated by GSOC.

Mr Reynolds told the tribunal he only saw Mr Burke’s email exchange while sitting in the witness box.

He also told the tribunal:

“Well, I mean, I spoke to the Garda Press Officer, I wrote up the story, it went on-line at four o’clock, there were no complaints from the Garda Press Officer, and I had spoken to him a number of times later on that evening and there were no complaints from the Garda Commissioner or the Garda Press Office in relation to the inaccuracy of the story.”

He added:

“I know I got an official statement from the Garda Press Office. I put it on the record and I attributed it…So if there was any problems with it, I would have heard.”

Kathleen Leader then had this exchange with Mr Reynolds:

Leader: “…what I am suggesting to you is, it would seem to be that at least Superintendent Taylor was making it clear to you, as I understand it, that Sergeant McCabe had not cooperated with the O’Mahony inquiry.

Reynolds: “First of all, I was never briefed by Superintendent Taylor that Sergeant McCabe refused to cooperate.”

Leader: “Yes.”

Reynolds:I never reported that he refused to cooperate. I was given a statement from Garda Headquarters that said the Garda Commissioner said he didn’t cooperate.”

Leader: “Okay.”

Reynolds: “And that is what I published.”

It should be noted Mr Callinan denies giving Supt Taylor any such instruction about Asst Commissioner John O’Mahoney’s report.

It should also be noted that Asst Commissioner John O’Mahony – when he gave evidence on June 6 last – was shown Mr Reynolds’ report and said he was not Mr Reynolds’ source and never spoke to Mr Reynolds about it.

He also said that what Mr Reynolds reported “wouldn’t be my view either in relation to what
had actually happened”.

Asst Comm O’Mahony – when he gave his evidence – also made it known publicly for the first time that he purposefully didn’t engage with Sgt McCabe when he was carrying out his investigation as he felt “precluded” from doing so, due to regulations.

He also said Mr Callinan would have “been aware of the process” he was undertaking.

March 2014

Two days before Mr Callinan retired on March 25, 2014, a text was sent to Mr Callinan (on March 23, 2014) – on foot of the then Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar calling the Garda whistleblowers “distinguished” (on March 20, 2014), in marked contrast to Mr Callinan calling their actions “disgusting” in January 2014.

The text sent to Mr Callinan, by an unknown person, said:

“Yeah, just thinking so much pressure being exerted from Labour riding on Varadkar’s opener. Hope Kenny can control the PAC on Tuesday, and you would need a plan B if needed in a hurry. I mean, what you were putting together yesterday. Similarly if you were door-stepped or at an official function. Reynolds would help out if an interview arose somewhere. Just thoughts and not recommendations.”

Mr Reynolds told the tribunal, on several occasions, that it’s a lazy and unfair assumption to think he would give Mr Callinan a soft interview.

Supt Taylor, in his protected disclosure, claimed that, on the morning of his resignation, Mr Callinan rang Supt Taylor and said:

“I’ve resigned. Get it out quickly to the media before the fuckers do me. Tell Paul.”

Supt Taylor, in his protected disclosure, said this meant Paul Reynolds.

When Mr Reynolds was asked if Supt Taylor had conveyed to him what happened that morning of Mr Callinan’s retirement, Mr Reynolds initially said he wouldn’t comment on whether he spoke to Supt Taylor or not but confirmed he did report on the retirement.

When Judge Charleton said he couldn’t see how journalist privilege arises – if the Garda Press Officer tells him something that is fact – Mr Reynolds conceded that if Supt Taylor said he called him [Mr Reynolds], he’ll accept it.

On the day of Mr Callilnan’s retirement, Mr Reynolds did report on Mr Callinan’s resignation – most notably on Today with Sean O’Rourke and News At One.

On Today with Sean O’Rourke, Mr Reynolds had the following exchange with Mr O’Rourke:

Sean O’Rourke: “Paul, what exactly persuaded the Commissioner that it was time to go?”

Paul Reynolds: “Well, Sean, I think he was pulled into a political crisis and, from his perspective, there was no end in sight and no way out. Now it’s clearly very hard from him and his family and that’s the reason he has cited for his resignation this morning, he says it’s for family reasons.

“And I know he found it particularly difficult because of the pressure that he was being put under and the effect it was having on his wife Marian and the family. And I think it was for family reasons that he really said: enough already, time to move out.

He felt that both he, but particularly his family, had to listen to a constant barrage of criticism which, in many cases, he felt was unfair and in many ways he felt he couldn’t answer.

“I mean he has been the subject of sustained and consistent criticism over a number of months…

“…then it went on to the penalty points problem and, you know, the [Garda] Inspectorate report was highly critical of the gardai and, again, he took this on board and then you had the issue of the whistleblowers and even though last Friday the Data Protection Commissioner came out and supported the actions of Martin Callinan in restricting the access of whistleblowers to the Garda’s PULSE computer system, even then he felt that he was still under pressure, particularly after Leo Varadkar’s comments.”

O’Rourke: “And Paul, reporting on Garda matters is your daily bread and butter job, now are you personally surprised as a crime correspondent that he has taken this step?”

Reynolds: “Yeah I was. It’s not just me that’s surprised. I think that senior members, right across the force, this has caused shock and amazement really because I think, even though he was pulled into a political crisis, the Garda Siochana is supposed to be apolitical. And I think that there would have been a feeling that the Commissioner felt he couldn’t respond to the criticisms because he was damned if he did and he was damned if he didn’t.

“And because no matter what he said, it wouldn’t have been good enough for certain people.

“So, I felt that he had obviously decided on a strategy whereby he would remain apolitical, he wasn’t going to comment on this, he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee.

When he came out of the Public Accounts Committee, Sean, in fairness to him, he wasn’t happy with his use of the word ‘disgusting’. He did use it but afterwards he felt, he did feel that it was the wrong word and…”

O’Rourke: “But he never said that, did he?”

Reynolds: “No, but he never said that, but he felt, and the reason why he didn’t say it is because he felt he couldn’t, no matter what he said, in relation to this, it was never going to be enough. People were never going to be happy with whatever he was going to say. And he felt he had made his point.

“And, from his point of view, he felt that the clarifying statement that he had made, he felt it should have and would have clarified it. He said he wasn’t talking personally about the whistleblowers, he was talking about their actions and he still feels that today and he still felt that.

“He felt that the actions of the whistleblowers, by going, once they had made their complaints, they had made their complaints and through the proper channels.

“But once they had continued to access the PULSE system and once they had continued to download and disseminate material, he felt he was disgusted by that and he was supported in that by the Data Protection Commissioner but he felt that, you know, if he kept, if he’d came out and made another statement about it, the statement he’d already made wasn’t enough.”

This interview can be listened to here

Later, on the News At One, the item on Mr Callinan’s resignation began with a clip of Mr Callinan making his “disgusting” remark.

Then Mr Reynolds told broadcaster Áine Lawlor:

“I think that he [Callinan] felt himself that the best decision was, as he said, retire early. He was due to retire next year. His tenure had been extended by the Minister for Justice.

“He says in his statement that he feels it was in the best interests of An Garda Siochana because he felt that the recent developments were proving to be a distraction from the work that the gardai carry out on a daily basis and he also says in his statement that it’s in the best interest of his family.

Martin Callinan is the father of three daughters, his mother is still alive.

“And they have also found the sustained criticism over the past few months very, very difficult to bear. And I think when he sat down and looked at both the family considerations and the fact that this controversy was continuing that he felt it was having an effect on the force and therefore he made his decision to resign on that basis.”

“…He still feels very strongly today about the fact that the whistleblowers, he respects the fact that they had made their complaint, he was disappointed that they didn’t make their complaint directly to him or to his, to some of his officers but he respected the fact, he said he respected the fact that they made their complaints.

“But, he couldn’t understand why they continued to access the PULSE system to print off sensitive, personal, confidential data from the system and then disseminate that…”

He felt he was in a no-win situation – he was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t and, on the basis of that, he took early retirement today.”

Lawlor: “And, one final question Paul. You said this morning that the former Commissioner now Martin Callinan knew himself, shortly after that appearance at the Public Accounts Committee, that he shouldn’t have used the word ‘disgusting’. Why wasn’t he, if he felt that at the time, why didn’t he just come out and say so then?

“I mean, surely, he could have avoided all of this, couldn’t he? Simply by the way he handled these things earlier on?”

Reynolds: “Yeah, I mean, let’s be honest about it. Hindsight is great sight. I think in relation to, when he did come out of the committee, yeah, he wasn’t happy with his use of the word ‘disgusting’. I think he really, didn’t intend to use that word, he intended to use a different word. Now people can say ‘well he was given a number of opportunities at the committee to resile from that position’ which he was and he chose not to do that at the time.

“But I think, after the PAC meeting, that didn’t really become an issue until Leo Varadkar raised it last Thursday and that was nearly three months after the PAC committee. There had been a number of other issues he had been dealing with…

“…so there was an awful lot of issues that were coming up and then, while he felt he had a lot of control of a lot of these, it was distracting from the important work of policing – we’re talking about organised crime, gangland crime, all the work that the gardai and the Garda Commissioner is involved in.

“And then last Thursday, out of the blue, Leo Varadkar made this statement and effectively dragged the Garda Commissioner into a political controversy whereby he felt he had no way out and took the decision today to resign.”

This interview can be listened to here.

The tribunal also saw the following text sent to Mr Callinan, just after he stepped down, from *a* Paul.

It said:

It seems pretty clear to me and it’s not right. If you want to set the record straight let me know. Meantime, take it easy.”

Mr Reynolds said he didn’t know if it was him who sent this text but, when it was suggested that billing records indicate it was most likely him, Mr Reynolds said:

“Look, it could be me and if it is, I think it’s pretty clear, it’s two days after the Garda Commissioner has retired, there is major political controversy, there is controversy in the guards, and this is the man who’s gone, who knows what’s happened and obviously as a journalist you want to seek an interview with him.”

May 2016

In regards to Mr Reynolds’ reports on the leaked O’Higgins Commission of Investigation report on May 9, 2016, the tribunal heard the then Chief News Editor of RTE News Ray Burke – who retired just 12 days before giving evidence on age grounds – asked his political staff and Mr Reynolds to track down copies of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation report after he became aware the report had been given to the then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald on April 25, 2016.

It heard that Mr Reynolds had been working up to his reports on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation since April and that he secured multiple copies of the report. He wouldn’t tell the tribunal the source of these reports or the dates on which he received them.

Notebooks for April – when he said didn’t have copies of the O’Higgins report – and May – when he did – were produced to the tribunal and showed that, in both months, the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe was being referred to in conversations he was having with sources.

When asked by Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, what the D allegation had to do with the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, Mr Reynolds said:

“Well, nothing really, yeah. This is the sort of thing that comes up in conversation, when you are talking about policing in Bailieboro…”

Mr Reynolds told the tribunal he became aware of the Ms D allegation in 2013, in the context of the penalty points controversy.

Similar to other journalists – such as Conor Lally, of The Irish Times, Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, and John Mooney, of The Sunday Times – Mr Reynolds said the matter never concerned him because of his knowledge of the DPP’s directions in relation to it.

Mr Reynolds said he never believed the Ms D allegation was the reason for Sgt McCabe making complaints about policing in Cavan/Monaghan.

He also said Ms O’Sullivan – with whom he said he would have risen “through the ranks” over their respective careers over 30 years – wasn’t the source for that information.

Mr Reynolds had the following exchange with Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal.

Leader: “Why did you think you were being told about it [the Ms D matter]?”

Reynolds: “I didn’t think about that.”

Leader: “You’re a journalist; surely, Mr Reynolds, you would put — ask a question, why am I being told about this?”

Reynolds: “No, well, you see, I already knew at that stage that there was no prosecution.”

Leader: “Well, that is exactly the point.”

Reynolds: “Yeah.”

Leader: “So why are you being told about it? Did you ever ask yourself that?”

Reynolds: “No.”

In any event, Mr Reynolds reported on his leaked copies of the final O’Higgins report throughout the day – on radio and television – on May 9, 2016.

Mr Reynolds said in several of his reports – including the News at One and Six One television broadcasts but not the Nine O’Clock television news – that Judge O’Higgins found Sgt McCabe had lied.

Judge O’Higgins never said Sgt McCabe “lied” but he did find Sgt McCabe told an “untruth”.

As an example of Mr Reynolds’ reports, this is what Mr Reynolds said on the One O’Clock television news:

And this is what he reported on the Six O’Clock news…

The “untruth” centred on a report from 2008 in which Sgt McCabe told Supt Michael Clancy that the victim of an assault and his wife had made a complaint to GSOC even though he knew this wasn’t the case.

The purpose of the “untruth” was that Sgt McCabe felt the couple had been badly treated by members of An Garda Síochána and he felt if he said they complained to GSOC, the matter would gain more attention.

The assault took place in a Cavan pub and the man suffered injuries to his head and face.

But the man eventually withdrew his complaint “in controversial circumstances which were criticised by Mr Justice O’Higgins”, the tribunal heard.

Judge O’Higgins also criticised the handling of the case by An Garda Siochana and found that there was an “inordinate delay” in interviewing witnesses and compiling a file on the matter.

Ultimately, Judge O’Higgins wrote about this “untruth”:

“While this concern [of Sgt McCabe’s] was genuine and commendable it is unacceptable to furnish false information in a report.”

On the Friday before the Monday morning broadcasts, Mr Reynolds had emailed his first draft to Ray Burke.

There had been some talk about putting a broadcast out on RTE’s Sunday show This Week but this was decided against.

Mr Burke’s initial feedback to Mr Reynold, Mr Burke said:

“I think your draft is excellent but because it is certain that you and RTÉ news will be subject to suspicion, that we are favouring the Gardaí and therefore biased against McCabe, I think you should rewrite some of the top paragraphs so that they contained the main conclusions.”

The following day, Saturday, May 7, Mr Reyolds wrote back to Mr Burke:

“Thanks, Ray. I suggest we leave This Week and do it all Monday, break it into two parts for radio. First Morning Ireland report on the cases, the probs with probationers, could have been resolved with one inspector, praise for McCabe but also the lie, the rape and the poisoning. Second, News at One, Callinan accused of corruption but vindicated, Shatter, AC Derek Byrne, Chief Superintendent McGinn, Superintendent Michael Clancy and Inspector Cunningham. And do the lot for TV starting at one with graphics, Tanya, etcetera. Talk tomorrow.”

On the next day, Sunday, May 8, the managing editor of television news Hilary McGouran emailed Mr Reynolds saying:

“Hey Paul Well done on getting the report. You have clearly put a lot of work into this. As you know, it’s a tricky one so be conscious of your tone and delivery so it doesn’t sound like you agree or otherwise with the various findings. You don’t want to sound pro or anti anyone!!”

“The cases will take time to go through on air and are worth going through as they give the public a real insight into what this thing was all about. Tell Morning Ireland tonight they need to give it time to breathe on their run down.”

On the same day, Mr Burke sent Mr Reynolds’ further feedback after he received another draft from Mr Reynolds in respect of the News At One broadcast – which mainly dealt with the allegations of corruption.

In this draft to Mr Burke – for the News At One broadcast – Mr Reynolds had proposed starting off his broadcast with the line:

“The O’Higgins Commission says the whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe, did not withdraw an allegation of corruption against the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, despite being invited to do so.”

In this email – which is also cc-ed to acting Director General of RTE Kevin Bakhurst and Ms McGouran – Mr Burke said:

“On the News at One piece I think we can avoid any accusation of bias if you started by saying the O’Higgins Commission has said that the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan ‘is entitled to have his reputation vindicated’ and that allegations made against him by Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe were ‘unfounded and deeply hurtful’. I think a lead-in like that above does not put the boot into McCabe straight away.”

Mr Reyolds told the tribunal that Mr Burke was conscious of any criticism which could be levelled at RTE and that “we had to be clear that we weren’t seen to be the ones that were making those criticisms, that this was in the report”.

The tribunal also heard that, on May 8, Mr Reynolds made the following note:

Question of why he made those complaints.”

“Clear he believed there was widespread corruption. Commission’s report dismisses that. Finds he exaggerated some and got stuff wrong, etcetera. Even though his heart was in the right place, facts did not support his beliefs. However consequence of that belief, the actions he took, the exaggerations and errors he made, the fact that he convinced so many people, Claire Daly, Mick Wallace, Micheál Martin, Enda Kenny and lots of reporters, that there had to be something wrong in the Gardaí, reality was that he hadn’t convinced Dermot Ahern, Fachtna Murphy, the former Garda Commissioner, Alan Shatter, Martin Callinan, Derek Byrne and Terry McGinn.”

Mr Reynolds said all this came from his own head and he was just jotting matters down as they came into his head – so, in other words, it wasn’t information he was receiving from anyone.

To some, this might seem like an odd note that Mr Reynolds wrote to himself – given he said he had copies of the full and final O’Higgins report.

In regards to Sgt McCabe’s motivation, in chapter 3 of the final O’Higgns report, Judge O’Higgins specifically wrote:

Some people, wrongly and unfairly, cast aspersions on Sergeant McCabe’s motives; others were ambivalent about them. Sergeant McCabe acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns, and the commission unreservedly accepts his bona fides. Sergeant McCabe has shown courage, and performed a genuine public service at considerable personal cost. For this he is due the gratitude, not only of the general public, but also of An Garda Síochána. While some of his complaints have not been upheld by this commission, Sergeant McCabe is a man of integrity, whom the public can trust in the exercise of his duties.”

Ms Leader asked Mr Reynolds if, after he got the full report, if he specifically sought to find out why Sgt McCabe made his complaints. Mr Reynolds said:

“I was thinking, I’m reading the report and thinking do we have to look at why he made those complaints? Do you know what I mean, is this an issue here? I am not saying we have to, but things are popping into my mind. Do we have to look at why he made these complaints? Do we have to see who agreed with him? Do we have to see who disagreed with him? Do we have to see what the report says about that?”

Returning to his decision to use the word “lie”, Mr Reynolds said:

“I read it that Sergeant McCabe had told an untruth — the report said that Sergeant McCabe had told an untruth, that he was aware it was an untruth, that he had told it for a specific reason and that the report found — Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins found that this was unacceptable. And the word used in the report was “untruth”.

“But because of those four factors I said that is a lie, and I said it to Ray Burke and he agreed it was a lie and it went up the RTÉ editorial chain.

“I have an old Collins dictionary on my desk at home, I took it out and looked up the word “untruth” and the first word that came up was “lie”. I thought back to my catechism when I was in first class when it said no lie is either lawful or innocent and I thought, if we have any responsibility, we have to tell people what is in the report. And I know this is unpalatable, but, as I said, I talked to Ray Burke about it and it went right up to Kevin Bakhurst and right through the editorial chain and it was decided that yes, we had to say that this was — this was a lie and that a lie was told.”

Asked why he didn’t just use the word “untruth”, Mr Reynolds said:

“Because I think the responsibility of journalists is not to use diplomatic or parliamentary or polite language that they are given.”

Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal, also put it to Mr Reynolds that:

“It could be said, Mr Reynolds, that in conveying to the public on the national broadcasting authority that a lot of complaints were made that nothing came of, and in particular in relation to very senior officers in An Garda Síochána, that Sergeant McCabe, in complaining as he did, was irresponsible in so doing…?”

Mr Reynolds said:

There was no implication from our broadcasts that he was irresponsible. Quite the contrary. We said, and I know I’m repeating myself but we did say, we repeated ad nauseam that his concerns were genuine and legitimate and that he was courageous and that he had carried out a public service and we did say, in my analysis, that if he hadn’t done what he had done we would never have found out about all of this.”

It should be said that Mr Reynolds did telephone Sgt McCabe the night before the broadcasts first went out on Morning Ireland on the morning of May 9, 2016… at 9.55pm.

Sgt McCabe didn’t answer the phone call and Mr Reynolds left a message.

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, put it to Mr Reynolds that his call to Sgt McCabe at that time of the night was him simply “going through the motions” and that he was “pretending that you were being evenhanded in dealing with your sources”.

Mr Reynolds categorically rejected this and said:

I have a statutory responsibility. RTÉ is the only organisation in this country broadcasting — or the only news organisation in this country that is regulated by statute, and I have a statutory responsibility to report in a fair and impartial manner. And I had to contact Sergeant McCabe.”

Mr McDowell asked why then, if Mr Reynolds had a duty to report in a fair and impartial manner”, why then did he not “mention the fact Sgt McCabe’s evidence had been preferred by the O’Higgins Commission on all of the areas where he was in conflict with other gardaí”?

Mr McDowell asked Mr Reynolds if it struck him that Philip Boucher Hayes’s report on his own leaked copy of the O’Higgins report – also broadcast on May 9, 2016 on Drivetime – was much more fair and balanced then that of Mr Reynolds’.

Mr Reynolds responded:

“If you want to tell me that Philip Boucher-Hayes is a far better reporter than me I am not going to disagree with you.”

Mr McDowell said he wouldn’t be that offensive to Mr Reynolds.

Mr Boucher-Hayes’s report can be read in full here.

On May 13, 2016, in the Irish Examiner, Michael Clifford reported that counsel for Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan’s told the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation that Sgt McCabe was negatively motivated in making his complaints about poor policing in Cavan/Monaghan and that he admitted this in a meeting which took place back in 2008 in Mullingar, apparently between Sgt McCabe, Sgt Yvonne Martin and Supt Noel Cunningham.

[It’s since turned out that Sgt Martin never gave evidence at the commission]

This was later proven to be untrue as Sgt McCabe had recorded the meeting and he gave this recording and transcript to Judge O’Higgins after the claim was made.

A report by Supt Cunningham of the Mullingar meeting matched Sgt McCabe’s tape.

But the tribunal has heard conflicting evidence about when Supt Cunningham’s report was given to the commission.

Either way, the alleged claim – which was of a blackmail-like scenario – was then dropped.

However, the legal row, the blackmail claim, and how the claim was “negatived” at the commission were not included in Justice O’Higgins’ final report.

During the O’Higgins commission of investigation, Ms O’Sullivan was represented by Colm Smyth, SC, while Sgt McCabe was represented by Michael McDowell, SC.

The following day, May 16, 2016, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan released a statement saying, among other things:

“I have been asked to clarify certain matters in relation to the proceedings before the O’Higgins Commission. I am legally precluded from so doing under section 11 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, which provides that it is a criminal offence to disclose or publish any evidence given or the contents of any document produced by a witness…I want to make it clear that I do not, and have never, regarded McCabe as malicious.”

On May 17, 2016, on the RTE Six One news, Paul Reynolds reported that he had obtained new documents in relation to the exchanges between Garda Commissioner’s senior counsel Colm Smyth and Judge Kevin O’Higgins during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Mr Reynolds reported that the documents showed 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.

On the same day, that evening, on RTE’s Prime Time, Katie Hannon reported on further sections of transcripts from the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in May and November 2015. Ms Hannon reported the following transcript:

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 2015, on the day Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was 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.”

[Many more details about what occurred at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation emerged during evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal and this can be read here and here]

On May 18, 2016, RTÉ Political Correspondent David Davin-Power told RTE’s News At One:

It’s hard to see how we are going to get of the bottom of this. Now the Opposition want the legal instructions which the Commissioner gave to her legal team to be disclosed but where would that end? After all, would that mean that other legal instructions, say that Maurice McCabe gave to his team, would have to be disclosed in turn?

And it really is a big ask in any situation to request that people disclose what they said to their lawyers in the course of proceedings or a Commission of Inquiry of whatever.

But, as things stand, what we do know from leaked transcripts is that there was an initial suggestion by the lawyer for the Commissioner that malice would have been part of the motivation attributed to Maurice McCabe but then, when he was questioned by the judge, some months later, another transcript, piece of transcript that’s leaked shows that he withdrew that effectively and said he simply wanted to question Sgt McCabe’s motivation and credibility which is bad enough when you think about it.

the whole thing is really overly complicated by various disclosures and can be boiled down to what the Commissioner felt about Maurice McCabe at the time she was talking to her lawyers in advance of the O’Higgins commission.

Now I don’t know how much further we’re going to get because nobody is suggesting that the full transcript which would be voluminous of the commission is being published because that would call into question how people would behave in front of any future tribunals.

So I think we would probably have to wait until the Dáil debate on the O’Higgins report itself which we think will be next week. The Taoiseach will have to choose his words very carefully in relation to Alan Shatter, in relation to Maurice McCabe, in relation to Noirin O’Sullivan.
And he’ll also have to deal with the findings and the recommendations of the commission in relation to very questionable behaviour of gardaí in Baileboro which sadly has been somewhat obscured by the politics controversies.

On that same day, on May 18, 2016, in an item on RTE’s evening show Drivetime, Philip Boucher-Hayes said:

I’ve spoken to several people who were in attendance throughout, if not the entirety, most of the days that the Commission took evidence and they say that it was if Sgt McCabe was on trial. He said as much when he was under cross examination on several occasions and a serving member of the Gardai – that I’ve spoken to – who was present at several days of proceedings has told me: ‘They tried to blame Maurice for everything and it was bullshit.’

…Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and many of the individual senior officers – be they retired or serving – were all represented by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and acted for, at the commission, by Colm Smyth, senior counsel. So the legal strategy was, in most cases, centralised. The line of attack on McCabe was organised.

It could be said that Mr Boucher-Hayes’ view of matters in May 2014 were likely to have been a lot different to that of other members of RTÉ.

Mr Boucher-Hayes gave evidence about an encounter he had with Mr Callinan on December 17, 2013 in RTÉ – just before Mr Callinan was about to do an interview on Crimecall.

Before the encounter there had been an issue over what questions were to be asked of Mr Callinan. Mr Boucher-Hayes refused to use scripted questions

The RTÉ journalist claims that, in a private conversation with Mr Callinan, the then Garda Commissioner told him Sgt McCabe was not to be trusted, that he was a “troubled individual” with a “lot of psychological issues and psychiatric issues”.

Mr Boucher Hayes claims Mr Callinan also said Sgt McCabe was famous in An Garda Siochana for a set of grievances he had against Garda management and that there were other things he could tell Mr Boucher Hayes about him – “horrific things, the worst kind of thing” – but he didn’t elaborate further.

The journalist also alleges that Mr Callinan told him that if he wanted to know about Sgt McCabe or the penalty points issue, to contact Supt Dave Taylor.

Mr Boucher Hayes told the tribunal that he didn’t believe what Mr Callinan had said and he said he believed it was a smoke screen. He said he felt Mr Callinan was attempting to “wriggle out of being held to account on an issue that gave him personal discomfort” – i.e. questions about penalty points.

Mr Boucher Hayes met with Sgt McCabe in the summer of 2014 and, of this meeting, Mr Boucher Hayes said:

“I went, I met him, I reluctantly put the allegations to him. He wasn’t as shocked as I thought that he might be, because he had obviously heard them before. We talked at some length about where they might’ve come from. And although Maurice McCabe wasn’t and didn’t provide me with any documentary evidence to acquit himself of this allegation, I believed him. I, following just pure gut instinct, nothing else, decided that his rebuttal of what Martin Callinan was saying was so sincere I would have found it very hard to doubt. But I never, as I
said, broadcast anything on it, because it would have been devastating to his family, to his wife to have even issued his denial of it.”

Mr Callinan denies Mr Boucher Hayes’s claims.

It should also be worth noting, that – apart from Supt Taylor claiming he negatively briefed Mr Reynolds, which Mr Reynolds says isn’t true – Dublin City University professor Colm Kenny gave evidence to the tribunal that two security correspondents told him, in early 2014, that Sgt McCabe was being investigated for child abuse.

Mr Kenny didn’t mention the two correspondents when he gave evidence and even implored them to come forward to the tribunal themselves.

In any event, Mr Kenny subsequently gave the names of the two journalists to the tribunal and it emerged they were: RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds and Tom Brady, of the Irish Independent.

Mr Kenny said he felt they were telling him to “cop himself on” and to “not take Sgt McCabe at face value”.

He also said they encouraged him to go and talk to gardai “up there” – which Mr Kenny took to mean gardai in Cavan/Monaghan.

[Both Mr Reynolds and Mr Brady strenuously deny the claim]

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Pics: Rollingnews/RTÉ