Tag Archives: Maurice McCabe

Terry Prone of the Communications Clinic and former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the Public Accounts Committee on July 13, 2017

An Garda Siochana paid the Communications Clinic €10,400  and €92,955 in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Further to this…

On Thursday, July 13, 2017.

The former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was asked about this sum of €92,955 by Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry, in a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee.

Ms O’Sullivan told the committee the money would have been used to train gardai to deal with local radio and media.

She said:

“As part of our modernisation and renewal programme, we have committed to opening up the organisation. I do not have the exact breakdown here, but maybe some of my colleagues do.

The moneys would again have been spent on training Garda and civilian members around the country for interaction with local radio and local media, for example, on some of the information messages that would have gone out around Operation Thor and the “lock up and light up” campaign.

“Again, we can provide an exact breakdown or maybe some of my colleagues would have it, but that is what it would have been.”

When Mr MacSharry specifically asked Ms O’Sullivan if she had attended any media training sessions with the PR firm, Ms O’Sullivan said:

No. Maybe it is an opportunity, if I may Chair, to do something. I have seen a lot of speculation and commentary. Particularly, I think there was a figure of €140,000 mentioned which apparently I spent in terms of preparing for Committee of Public Accounts meetings. That is completely untrue. I have never received any preparatory training. Like yourself, Chair, I am not sure where that reporting came from. Certainly, no, I did not.

Mr MacSharry attempted to clarify further when they had this exchange:

Marc MacSharry:So the €92,000 was for people who would have to be spokespeople for local radio after a crime or were being consulted on an issue or something.”

Ms Nóirín O’Sullivan: “And, for example, district offices. As the Deputy will have seen, one of the criticisms we have received is that we are insular and defensive. Some of the inspectorate reports quite rightly raised the fact we need to speak more openly to the media. The Deputy would have seen a lot of our local officers around the country engaging more with the media. We have found that part of public reassurance is to get on local radio stations in particular and give out messages of reassurance and crime prevention and stories of interest to local communities.”

However…

Yesterday, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported that the Disclosures Tribunal is examining advice which Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, gave to the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan in May, 2016.

Ms Prone gave this advice after it emerged that claims made by Ms O’Sullivan’s senior counsel during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015 – that Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe was acting out of malice – were proven to be untrue and journalists were asking Ms O’Sullivan for a comment about the same.

Mr Mooney reported:

The tribunal has been notified of email exchanges between senior gardai and Prone from May 2016, when the PR executive was consulted on the wording of a statement issued by the garda press office in response to media queries about O’Sullivan’s approach to McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission hearings.

“…Charleton has been given statements and documents that show Garda Headquarters held a meeting to discuss how it would respond to the issues identified by O’Higgins. The Garda press office later released three statements on the report and the leaked transcripts.

“Prone advised O’Sullivan on the second statement, which was released by the garda press office. It was an attempt to clarify the then commissioner’s role after newspapers published transcripts of the commission’s hearings. The statement, released on May 16, quoted O’Sullivan as saying she believed “dissent was not disloyalty” and she never regarded McCabe as malicious. It added that she was legally precluded from commenting on matters discussed at the commission.

“Charleton has been told the statement was circulated by O’Sullivan to Garda Headquarters on a private Gmail account, which deleted emails after 30 days, before its release. Copies were retained by Garda Headquarters as they were sent to official accounts. The email thread shows Prone had advised O’Sullivan.”

Meanwhile.

Two separate attempts earlier this year, by journalists Ali Bracken, of the Irish Daily Mail, and Ken Foxe, to obtain details of An Garda Siochana’s hiring of the Communications Clinic, under the Freedom of Information Act, have been rejected.

Specifically, Mr Foxe sought “copies of any emails between the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and PR consultant Terry Prone or the Communications Clinic during the period in which those services were provided to AGS.”

In addition.

The Department of Justice paid the Communications Clinic €2,336, €756 and €24,221 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Two weeks ago, the Department of Justice released a series of emails which showed how, on Saturday, July 4, 2015, RTÉ journalist John Burke sent a press query to the Garda Press Office.

Mr Burke asked about the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s counsel questioning Sgt Maurice McCabe’s motivation at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Subsequent to this, in an email from the Department of Justice Secretary General Office Assistant Secretary Ken O’Leary to the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Mr O’Leary stated Ms O’Sullivan phoned him “to let me know they had received queries from Colm O’Nongain [sic] about Sgt McCabe”.

Mr O’Leary added that the Garda Press Office was asked “was it the Garda Commissioner who had instructed counsel to adopt an aggressive stance towards Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission”.

He told Ms Fitzgerald: “The Gardai are not commenting.”

He then went on to advise Ms Fitzgerald, who was scheduled to appear on RTE’s This Week on Sunday, July 5, 2015, to say the following:

“Both the Garda Commissioner [Noirin O’Sullivan] and myself have made it clear that Sgt McCabe is a valued member of the Force.”

She was also advised to say she couldn’t comment on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation and that:

“…it would be wrong of anyone to make public comment which might interfere with or attempt to influence those proceedings in any way.”

In addition, Mr O’Leary also told Ms Fitzgerald that she could say:

“It would be wrong of anyone to make public comment which might interfere with or attempt to influence those proceedings in any way. The Commission clearly has to be let take its course.”

In the end, Ms Fitzgerald wasn’t asked about the matter when she appeared on RTE’s This Week on Sunday, July 5, 2015.

O’Sullivan ‘advised’ by PR guru about McCabe (John Mooney, The Sunday Times)

Previously: Getting Their Story Straight

Reputable History

Our Worst Fears

Five Years After

Was The Communications Clinic Hired To Deal With Mission To Prey Before It Was Even Broadcast?

Committee transcript via Oireachtas.ie

In fairness.

Previously: Gemma O’Doherty on Broadsheet

From top: Assistant Secretary to the Department of Justice, Ken O’Leary; Former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan

The release of a series of emails from the Department of Justice last night included how, on Saturday, July 4, 2015, RTÉ journalist John Burke sent a press query to the Garda Press Office.

Mr Burke asked about the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s counsel questioning Sgt Maurice McCabe’s motivation at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Subsequent to this, in an email from the Department of Justice Secretary General Office Assistant Secretary Ken O’Leary to the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Mr O’Leary stated Ms O’Sullivan phoned him “to let me know they had received queries from Colm O’Nongain [sic] about Sgt McCabe”.

Mr O’Leary added that the Garda Press Office was asked “was it the Garda Commissioner who had instructed counsel to adopt an aggressive stance towards Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission”.

He told Ms Fitzgerald: “The Gardai are not commenting.”

He then went on to advise Ms Fitzgerald, who was scheduled to appear on RTE’s This Week on Sunday, July 5, 2015, to say the following:

“Both the Garda Commissioner [Noirin O’Sullivan] and myself have made it clear that Sgt McCabe is a valued member of the Force.”

She was also advised to say she couldn’t comment on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation and that:

“…it would be wrong of anyone to make public comment which might interfere with or attempt to influence those proceedings in any way.”

In addition, Mr O’Leary also told Ms Fitzgerald that she could say:

“It would be wrong of anyone to make public comment which might interfere with or attempt to influence those proceedings in any way. The Commission clearly has to be let take its course.”

In the end, Ms Fitzgerald wasn’t asked about the matter when she appeared on RTE’s This Week on Sunday, July 5, 2015.

In addition, the emails released last night weren’t sent to the Disclosures Tribunal – which began its work in February – until yesterday.

Further to this…

Last night…

Ms Fitzgerald tweeted…

And this morning…

Meanwhile…

Last night: Adduce This

Previously: Unredacted

In DPP Trouble

Rollingnews

Former Fine Gael Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald and former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, watch the Probationary Garda Passing Out Parade in Templemore Garda College last year.

Tonight.

The complete exchange between the Department of Justice and the Minister for Justice’s office concerning the Garda Commissioner’s legal strategy against Maurice McCabe.

Released this evening by the Department of Justice having been “discovered in the course of the search and retrieval of records” and now sent to the Disclosures Tribunal.

Meanwhile…

John Burke, of RTÉ Radio One’s This Week

 

Oh.

A thread originating from RTÉ Radio One’s This Week supplied by the Department of Justice this evening.

Earlier: A Closer Look

Rollingnews


The full unabridged email that may bring down the current government.

Michael Flahive, of the Department of Justice, sent this to Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s private secretary Christopher Quattrociocchi on May 15, 2015, which was subsequently sent to her.

Ms Fitzgerald has said she can’t recall receiving the email.

In it, Mr Flahive says he received a call from Richard Barrett, of the Attorney General’s office, and that, according to Mr Barrett, a row had taken place at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation between the legal counsel for Sgt Maurice McCabe and the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

Mr Flahive claims Mr Barrett told him the row occurred because the counsel for Ms O’Sullivan wanted to introduce a complaint that the 2006 investigation into Ms D’s ‘dry humping’ allegation against Sgt McCabe wasn’t investigated properly.

Mr Flahive outlined that Michael McDowell, SC for Sgt McCabe, objected to this being raised and asked if Ms O’Sullivan had authorised the argument that this claim was relevant to Sgt McCabe’s motivation.

Mr Flahive explained that Mr Barrett said Ms O’Sullivan had authorised this approach.

On Tuesday night, Sgt McCabe told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the alleged events outlined in this email never happened.

Readers should recall Ms Fitzgerald, in May 2015, received a lengthy report from GSOC in which it stated the 2006 investigation was carried out correctly.

That GSOC investigation followed a complaint made by Ms D, which was discussed at the Disclosures Tribunal when Irish Independent journalist Paul Williams gave evidence.

When Ms D gave a statement to GSOC, on July 3, 2014, Ms D told GSOC Mr Williams told her senior members of An Garda Siochana and Government were aware of her allegations.

When asked about this, Mr Williams said it was a “throwaway remark” that the then head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor said to him and that he later relayed it to Ms D.

Related: ‘This Is About A Failure To Stand By Maurice McCabe’ 

Derek Mooney: What Happened

Previously: Absence Of Malice

In DPP Trouble

Disclosures, Discrepancies And Paul Williams

Fianna Fail TDs Timmy Dooley and Stephen Donnelly speak to press on their way into the Fianna Fail front bench meeting at 9.30am.

More as they get it.

Meanwhile…

On Today with Sean O’Rourke…

“All I’ve heard since yesterday, and I’ll say it again, is nobody wants an election. So can we come back from the brink please of whatever this particular row is over and I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out what the charge is against Frances Fitzgerald…”

Fine Gael’s Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty speaking to Mr O’Rourke now…

Watch live here

Listen live here

UPDATE:

Election looms as Fianna Fáil decides to table no confidence motion (Fiach Kelly, Sarah Bardon, The Irish Times)

UPDATE:

Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the email she claims she received on afternoon of May 15, 2015, but can’t remember receiving

Yesterday evening.

At around 7.30pm.

Following questions over who knew what, when, in relation to the legal strategy used by the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and several gardai to discredit Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015…

Because…

Readers will recall how claims made at the commission were dropped after Sgt McCabe proved allegations made by the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan and allegations outlined in a five-page letter by the Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, were not true

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar telephoned Sgt Maurice McCabe.

The call lasted around 15 minutes.

Broadsheet understands Mr Varadkar read out the email above – which Ms Fitzgerald told RTE’s News at One yesterday was sent to her in May 2015 but of which she had no memory – to Sgt McCabe.

It came after Mr Varadkar told the Dail last week that she only became aware of the legal strategy when it became public knowledge – a year later – in May 2016.

This email, Ms Fitzgerald told the Dail last night, came about after the Chief State Solicitor contacted an official in the Attorney General’s office who, in turn, contacted an official in the Department of Justice who, in turn, sent the email to Ms Fitzgerald.

The email suggests that, at the start of the hearings of the O’Higgins commission, the legal counsel for An Garda Siochana raised an allegation “that a serious complaint against Sergeant McCabe (which has had always denied) had not been properly investigated by the Garda Siochana”.

During the News At One, Ms Fitzgerald said this caused a row between the legal counsel for the Garda Commissioner, Colm Smyth SC, and the legal counsel for Sgt McCabe, Michael McDowell SC.

However.

Sgt McCabe told Mr Varadkar during their telephone call that such a claim had never been made, or even mentioned, during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

He told him that what was at issue at the commission, on May 15, 2015,  was the fact he had been accused of wanting the DPP’s directions – in respect of a ‘dry humping’ allegation in 2006 – overturned.

Sgt McCabe explained to Mr Varadkar that, on the afternoon of May 15, 2015, he gave evidence to the commission outlining that he was very satisfied with the DPP directions and had no desire for them to be overturned.

Sgt McCabe also told the Taoiseach that the full transcript of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation can prove a) the contents of the email were never mentioned and b) what was at issue was the claim made by An Garda Siochana that Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions overturned.

At 8pm.

Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald gave a statement to the Dail, during which the email she alleges was sent to her on the afternoon of May 15, 2015, was circulated to TDs present.

She also stated that she was aware the Taoiseach had spoken to Sgt McCabe yesterday evening.

However, she never mentioned that Mr Varadkar was told by Sgt McCabe that he said the contents of the email were untrue – even though this was put to her by Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy.

Instead…

After she made her statement, at around 8.30pm, Mr Murphy asked Ms Fitzgerald, specifically, if she read the email and then forgot about it?

She said:

When the department told me about this email last Thursday, as I’ve said, I didn’t remember that email. I would tend to read all of the emails that come to me. I can only assume that I did read it but I did not remember it when I was speaking to the Taoiseach.

“What I said to the Taoiseach was that I was, I would, I did not know about it, any legal strategy in advance. I wasn’t part of any legal strategy. I had no hand, act or part in any legal strategy. And that I was only aware of all of the details that came out one year later in may 2016.

“That’s what I said to the Taoiseach, that’s what I was referencing when I spoke to him and when he spoke here in the Dail, he was obviously repeating that and what I was referencing was the information that came out in May 2016 which was widely reported in media about tapes, about the Mullingar, about other Garda witnesses that I had no clue, no information about that.

“And that’s what I said to the Taoiseach when I spoke to him and obviously then the email was brought to my attention.”

Mr Murphy then said:

Maurice McCabe is adamant that the criminal charges that you referred to on the radio and you refer to in the email here were not raised at the O’Higgins Commission. He’s adamant that what was raised at the O’Higgins Commission was in relation to him supposedly, which was false, seeking to get access to information of the DPP’s decision, not criminal charges.

“And he’s adamant that the email is inaccurate. So that begs a very serious question. I mean I trust that this is the email. But if it’s the case and if the transcript proves that the case that these were issues that were not raised in the O’Higgins Commission well then doesn’t it raise more serious questions if a campaign of slander etc was continuing and was being filtered through phone calls and then into emails.”

Ms Fitzgerald replied:

“When you look at, this was referencing a call from a senior official in the office of the Attorney General. Now you’re saying that Sgt McCabe is saying that what is in the email is incorrect. I would, I can only tell you what was in the email.

“I have absolutely no reason to believe that either a senior official from the department of the Attorney General or a senior official in my department would record what they, you know, what’s here, incorrectly, or as part of any campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe. That would be quite an extraordinary allegation to make about a senior official in the Department of the Attorney General.

“Now if you’re saying there’s a discrepancy between Sgt McCabe’s view and what is in this email. Well, we will just have to see what he has to say about it and, as I say, the Taoiseach did have a conversation with him…”

Readers should note that the serious complaint being referred to in the email above is related to an allegation of ‘dry humping’ in 1998 made by a Ms D in December 2006 some 11 months after her father, a guard, Mr D lost his position and was reverted to other duties after Sgt McCabe was involved in a disciplinary process against him in January 2006.

After the DPP investigated Ms D’s complaint, a letter from the DPP’s office was sent to the State solicitor for Cavan Rory Hayden on April 5, 2007, which stated: “Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”

In August, Broadsheet reported how, at the outset of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation,  in May 2015, Chief Supt Colm Rooney claimed Sgt McCabe had sought a meeting with him in 2007 demanding that the DPP’s directions – in respect of the “dry humping” allegation  – be overturned.

The commission was told  this was the basis of a grudge held by Sgt McCabe and the reason behind him making complaints about Garda misconduct.

When Chief Supt Rooney made this claim, An Garda Siochana weren’t aware that Sgt McCabe had been verbally, but fully, briefed of the DPP’s directions on the same day they were issued in April 2007.

Sgt McCabe gave evidence on day two of the commission – Friday, May 15, 2015 – in which he explained his knowledge of the DPP’s directions and how he had no desire for them to be overturned as he was very satisfied with them.

This was the first serious blow to the legal strategy employed by An Garda Siochana at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

This hasn’t been reported elsewhere.

However, last night in the Dail, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace outlined the same chain of events.

Readers will also recall how, also at the outset of the commission, Colm Smyth SC, for the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and An Garda Siochana, said they would argue Sgt McCabe was making complaints about Garda misconduct because of this so-called grudge and that evidence of this would be based on a meeting Sgt McCabe had with two gardai, Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin, in Mullingar in August 2008.

But when this claim was made, the gardai weren’t aware that Sgt McCabe had recorded this meeting. This recording was given to the commission and proved the counsel’s claim to be untrue.

Readers will also recall how, on the same Friday afternoon of May 15, 2015, Sgt McCabe’s legal counsel Michael McDowell called for documentary evidence to be produced to support the claim that Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions overturned.

Over the following weekend, and in response to Mr McDowell’s request, a five-page document compiled by the then Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, was introduced to the commission on Monday, May 18, 2015 – day three of the commission.

This letter, in which it outlined claims of the Mullingar meeting, was contradicted by Sgt McCabe’s tape recording.

Last night, Mr Wallace contended that a meeting must have been held after Mr McDowell made his request for documentary evidence.

He asked Ms Fitzgerald if she knew who attended that meeting or if she knew anything about that meeting.

She said:

“I don’t know who attended that meeting. I do know Sgt McCabe, in relation to this allegation, as you will be aware as well, the Charleton Tribunal, at the Disclosures Tribunal, that he said it did not happen, it did not happen, it’s all a horrendous allegation to make and it did not happen. So we’re very clear about his view on this issue that arose.

“But deputy I couldn’t possibly, I’m not going to try and run the tribunal here and different elements of it.”

Mr Wallace then asked if she could confirm a meeting did take place over the weekend before Ms Creedon’s five-page letter was produced.

Ms Fitzgerald replied:

“How would I possibly know whether there had been a meeting in relation to what you’ve outlined or not? I could, I had no role, I do not have any role, I did not have any role in relation to the legal strategy. And I would say deputy if you have that, the queries you have, the questions, if you have information, the place for that to be laid is before the tribunal which is currently sitting and they are investigating in huge detail, under Judge Peter Charleton all of these issues.”

Separately…

In relation to the claim outlined in the email – that there had been an allegation that a serious complaint against Sgt McCabe hadn’t been investigated properly…

Readers may wish to note that the Disclosures Tribunal has heard how Irish Independent journalist Paul Williams met Ms D at her home on March 8, 2014 and interviewed her.

Part of this interview was recorded on video.

Ms D told Mr Williams she felt her allegation of 2006 wasn’t investigated properly.

Mr Williams was the only journalist to interview Ms D in 2014 – a year after her allegation of ‘dry humping’ was wrongly recorded as an allegation of rape by a counsellor and Tusla in August 2013 and eventually passed up to the Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan in May 2014, completely unbeknownst to Sgt McCabe.

Mr Williams told the tribunal he wasn’t aware of this apparent mistake until February 2017.

During Mr Williams’ interview with Ms D recorded on video, they discussed GSOC and the tribunal heard that, in the video, Paul Williams is recorded asking Ms D:

“Would this involve GSOC or the Guards themselves or who would you like to investigate this? What body are you going to complain to?”

While giving evidence, Mr Williams was asked if he spoke to Ms D about GSOC before videoing the interview and he said: No.

However, Ms D told tribunal:

I recall speaking to Paul Williams and telling him that I was very unhappy with how the investigation of my complaint was handled in 2006. There was a couple of valid reasons I had for this belief, and having explained these reasons to Paul Williams he did suggest to me, and advised me, that if I had a complaint that I wished to follow that GSOC was an avenue I could go down, yes.

On April 29, 2014, Ms D emailed the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) claiming her allegation against Sgt McCabe was not properly investigated.

In her follow-up statement to GSOC on July 3, 2014, Ms D said:

“Paul Williams told me that my case had been known by a few people in senior ranks in the Gardaí and Government for some time.”

In relation to this comment, Mr Williams told the tribunal:

“That, that comment came from the fact, I would have been talking to — when after I interviewed her [Ms D] I contacted [former Head of the Garda Press Office who alleges there was a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe] Dave Taylor, told him what I was looking at, asked him questions. He made a throwaway remark that it was known in the Park, as in the Phoenix Park, and he suggested it was known in government. But it was — it was a passing comment, and I actually reported that back to her, I told her what he told me.”

Ms D’s father also made a statement to GSOC.

When they gave their statements, neither Ms D nor Mr D told GSOC about the “monumental cock-up” by RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy and Tusla in relation to the elevation of a ‘dry humping’ allegation to an allegation of rape.

The Disclosures Tribunal has already heard that, after looking at Ms D’s complaint, GSOC reported, in May 2015:

“GSOC established that Inspector Noel Cunningham carried out appropriate inquiries and uncovered no evidence of any criminality on the part of him in the investigation or any other Gardaí and how the investigation was conducted.”

In addition, Mr McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, told the Disclosures Tribunal, that, after this finding, GSOC sent a “lengthy report” to the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald about the same.

Previously: Absence of Malice

‘Such An Issue Was Never Raised’

Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald

This lunchtime.

On RTÉs News At One.

Aine Lawlor interviewed Tanaiste and former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald about what she knew, when, in relation to the legal strategy employed by the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan against Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

During the interview, Ms Fitzgerald said she received an email in May 2015 stating a criminal charge against Sgt McCabe had been raised at the commission and that it had been claimed that this charge hadn’t been properly investigated.

Ms Fitzgerald said she was told a row ensued between the counsel for Sgt McCabe and the counsel for the commissioner at the commission because of this claim.

Ms Fitzgerald said the email was based on information that an officer in the Attorney General’s office gave to a Department of Justice official in a phone call in May 2015.

After the interview, just as Leaders’ Questions began in the Dail, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin told the Dail that just before he entered the Dail chamber…

“I took a phonecall from Maurice McCabe, he’d been on to another deputy. And he is adamant that such an issue was never raised during the O’Higgins inquiry. And he’s taking very serious issue with the remarks of the Tanaiste on the News at One today. And my understanding is that he will be issuing a statement.”

Readers will recall how on May 6, 2014, Sean Guerin SC, after examining allegations of Garda misconduct made by Sgt McCabe, Mr Guerin recommended that a Commission of Investigation be held into the complaints.

This would eventually lead to the setting up of the privately held O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015.

At the outset of the O’Higgins Commission, counsel for the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and An Garda Siochana Colm Smyth SC said it would argue Sgt McCabe was making complaints about Garda misconduct because he had a grudge and that evidence of this would be based on a meeting Sgt McCabe had with two gardai, Supt Noel Cunningham and Sgt Yvonne Martin, in Mullingar in August 2008.

Broadsheet has previously reported how it was also claimed at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation by Chief Supt Colm Rooney that Sgt McCabe had sought a meeting with him in 2007 demanding that the DPP’s directions – in respect of an “dry humping” allegation made by the daughter of a guard previously disciplined by Sgt McCabe in 2006  – be overturned.

The commission was told  this was the basis of a grudge held by Sgt McCabe and the reason behind him making complaints about Garda misconduct.

However.

The DPP’s directions were categorically in Sgt McCabe’s favour. They included the line:

“Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”

At the beginning of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, An Garda Siochana weren’t aware that Sgt McCabe had been verbally, but fully, briefed of the DPP’s directions on the same day they were issued in April 2007.

Sgt McCabe gave evidence on day two of the commission – Friday, May 15, 2015 – in which he explained his knowledge of the DPP’s directions and how he had no desire for them to be overturned as he was very satisfied with them.

This hasn’t been reported elsewhere.

Readers will also recall how Broadsheet has previously reported how, on that same Friday afternoon, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, called for documentary evidence to be produced to support the claim that Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions overturned.

Over the following weekend, and in response to Mr McDowell’s request, a five-page document compiled by the then Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, was introduced to the commission on Monday, May 18, 2015 – day three of the commission.

In Ms Creedon’s letter, she stated:

“[In relation to the 2008 meeting in Mullingar] … “Superintendent [Noel] Cunningham was accompanied to this meeting by Sergeant Yvonne Martin. Notes were taken at the meeting and countersigned by Sergeant Martin, and a detailed report of the meeting was prepared by Superintendent Cunningham, and its contents agreed with Sergeant Martin, and forwarded to Chief Superintendent [Colm] Rooney.”

“In the course of this meeting Sergeant McCabe advised Superintendent Cunningham that the only reason he made the complaint against Superintendent [Michael] Clancy was to force him to allow Sergeant McCabe to have the full DPP directions conveyed to him.”

However.

A tape recording of the meeting, produced by Sgt McCabe, contradicted Ms Gleeson’s assertions.

The claim about the grudge and the claim about the grudge being made known at the meeting were dropped by the Garda Commissioner’s legal counsel.

But they were never included in the commission’s final report.

In addition, it’s been claimed by Labour TD Alan Kelly that a phonecall was made from the Commissioner’s office to the secretary general of the Department of Justice Noel Waters on May 15, 2015.

The purpose of that alleged call is unknown.

Last week, Mr Waters announced he’s stepping down from his role in February.

Readers will recall how, after the report of O’Higgins Commission of Investigation was published in May 2016 – which didn’t outline any of the details above, Mick Clifford, in the Irish Examiner, and Katie Hannon, of RTE, reported how Ms O’Sullivan’s legal counsel made the claim about 2008 Mullingar meeting and how Sgt McCabe’s tape recording proved this not to be the case.

There have since been calls to know exactly what the Department of Justice and the then Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald knew of this legal strategy.

Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dail Ms Fitzgerald learned of the legal strategy when it became public knowledge – which is May 2016.

But last night, Ms Hannon reported on Claire Byrne Live that a Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed to her this week that Ms Fitzgerald was first made aware in May 2015.

Further to this…

From News At One:

Aine Lawlor: “I think, minister, and just to clarify again so we’re not at cross purposes. The questions here are not in relation to whether you’re the person drawing up the strategy. The question is are you the person being informed about what’s going on? There was a row at the tribunal [sic] in May 2015. The O’Higgins Commission was told that evidence would be produced to show that whistleblower Maurice McCabe who had fought so long and so hard to be able to tell his story and suffered so much for it, that he would be shown to be somebody with a grudge.

We’re told the Department was informed. Who told you then?

France Fitzgerald: “Let me be clear: what emerged last week from and what the Department were referencing yesterday was that there was a conversation between an official in the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General’s office officer told an official in the department in a telephone conversation…”

Lawlor: “Was this Noel Waters?”

Fitzgerald: “And that an issue had arisen at the tribunal in relation to the approach that the counsel for An Garda Siochana were taking. And that the counsel for Sgt Maurice McCabe had objected very strongly to that. Because it was raising an issue about a criminal, a serious criminal complaint which his counsel felt had nothing to do with the current situation. And this was then put in an email by the official who had taken the phonecall. The Department discovered that  email last week and I was informed towards the end of the week, in relation to this. Now when I…can I…”

Talk over each other

Lawlor: “Sorry minister, because you’ve said a fair bit but you still haven’t answered the question: were you, because the department says now, as of last night, you were aware of this. Who told you what in May 2015 about that row?”

Fitzgerald: “What I’ve said to you is that the department discovered an email last week when they were trying to answer various questions that had come in. They found an email that record that details of this conversation that it had been sent to me at that point and that it is..”

Lawlor: “The email was sent to you?”

Fitzgerald: “Let me finish.. that it specifically said in the email that there was no function for me getting involved in a Commission of Investigation and anybody’s evidence before it that it would be actually a criminal act by me if I was to get involved in that.  Now when I…”

Lawlor: “Did you read that email Tanaiste?”

Fitzgerald: “When I spoke to the Taoiseach, let me just say this Aine, when I spoke to the Taoiseach what I explained was that all of the information that came out in May 2016, about garda witnesses, about tapes. All of that, that was leaked, I had absolutely no knowledge about any of that until May 2016 and that is what I had said to the Taoiseach and that is what he was commenting on when he spoke in the Dail.”

Lawlor: “Ok, I’ll come onto May 2016 in a minute but let’s just stay with May 2015. There’s this row at the tribunal. There is a conversation between the AG’s office and somebody in your Department, you haven’t told us whom.”

Fitzgerald: “That’s right.”

Lawlor: “And you are sent an email about this. Did you read that email?

Fitzgerald: “Well I don’t remember that particular email.”

Lawlor: “Do you remember getting information about this?”

Fitzgerald: “One of the reasons that I don’t remember it is because it actually specifically said that I had no function in relation to evidence before a tribunal, given by any party.  What I have done and what I…”

Lawlor: “So you don’t remember?”

Fitzgerald: “I don’t remember that particular email but the department found it last Thursday and I, I spoke to the Department and saw what was in it. But the point is that it specifically said I had no role in relation to it. Now what I did do, though Aine, and I think it’s very important to say this is that from the moment I became Minister for Justice I did absolutely everything to make sure that any discussion that I would have with the Garda Commissioner in relation to whistleblowing was about making sure that whistleblowers were protected, supported, that the way they were dealing with it in An Garda Siochana, they brought in Transparency International, my constant focus was to, and any time any thing was raised in the Dail, was to discuss and say you know, you’ve got to look after whistleblowers properly…”

Lawlor: “Tanaiste, given that you couldn’t remember what you had been told in May 2015. Why when Mick Clifford and Katie Hannon reported in May 2016 that actually the State had argued that Maurice McCabe was simply a man with a grudge and if he he hadn’t secretly recorded the conversation with other gardai, that might have stuck. Why did you not have your memory jogged? And speak about that in the Dail in 2016?”

Fitzgerald: “I was not party to what was going on at the O’HIggins Commission. You know the O’Higgins Commission was private and as minister, I remember saying at the time, when there was part information leaked that I couldn’t comment on part information when I didn’t have the full facts and what I said was we’d set up and what I did was set up the Charleton tribunal which is now examining the specifically that legal strategy but I didn’t know about that legal strategy but that commission, that tribunal is examining precisely what the approach was to the evidence and the approach that the gardai took. I meant he Charleton Tribunal which is where, if anybody has any information, or any TD, or any member of the public has information about this issue, it should go to the Charleton Tribunal now which this house set up, and or course the Department of Justice is also part of that those terms of reference.”

Lawlor: “You didn’t know about this, of course, minister, and you can’t remember the email but the fact of the matter is did the penny not drop even in May 2016? That if it were not for the media, if it were not for Maurice McCabe’s own tapes, because he didn’t trust by that stage, at that stage, because of everything he had been through, that man could have been left out to dry and not believed. The O’Higgins Commission may not have said the things you’ve just quoted about. The Charleton Tribunal may never have happened and that would have happened on your watch as minister for justice. Because you weren’t remembering it was the media that were publishing.”

Fitzgerald: “That’s a quite unfair description because what I did, as minister, when I got the Guerin Report, I set up the O’Higgins Commission. Every act I took, in my role as Minister for Justice, was to support whistleblowers and then when this issue about the strategy, the legal strategy which we’ve yet to hear, from the Charleton Tribunal, precisely what that legal strategy was, I have set up a specific term of reference in the Charleton Tribunal.”

Lawlor: “So you were expressing support for Maurice McCabe in the Dail, praising him, but you were also, when the leaks came out instead of saying ‘oh my gosh, yes, I got an email, I remember that now’. You were condemning those leaks as illegal, did you not remember the email you’d been sent at the time, telling you that this was a strategy condemning…”

Fitzgerald: “What I was saying was that it was part of the story and as minister for justice, I couldn’t operate on the basis of leaks that were coming out. And indeed, Aine, it’s very important to remember there’s a tribunal sitting at the moment, to examine specifically the issue of that strategy and whether there was a strategy in place. I cannot assume what that strategy was. What is referenced in the email is an event at the tribunal in relation to a disagreement between two counsel and the details around that. That’s what’s referenced. It’s not about an overall strategy.”

Later

Lawlor: “And you’ve told us in this interview that the Chief State Solicitor’s Office was dealing with the Attorney General on this. Did you have any conversations with the Attorney General…”

Fitzgerald: “The Chief..sorry? The Chief State Solicitor, no, the Attorney General and a department of official that had the conversation that was then reported to me.”

Lawlor: “OK, did you discuss this with the Attorney General?”

Fitzgerald: “No, I didn’t discuss the details of this because it wasn’t my role to be discussing  anybody’s strategy at the tribunal.”

Lawlor: “Why? It was fair enough for the State to argue that Maurice McCabe had a grudge?”

Fitzgerald: “But I do not have evidence, I do not have evidence that the State were arguing that Maurice McCabe had a grudge?”

Lawlor: “Well there was a row about it in May 2015 and…isn’t that what we were talking about Tanaiste?”

Fitzgerald: “No, no, the information that was shared from the Attorney’s office at that point was that – about the disagreement between the two counsel down at the tribunal. It was, I…I was not involved…”

Lawlor: “And what were you told they were disagreeing about?”

Fitzgerald: “..in the legal strategy.”

Lawlor: “What were you told they were disagreeing about?”

Fitzgerald: “About the fact that a serious criminal charge which Sgt McCabe had denied had been raised.”

Lawlor: “What kind of criminal charge, did you not ask?”

Fitzgerald: “Well you know, it’s, I, it wasn’t for me to get into the details in relation to it, the criminal charge.”

Lawlor: “You were the minister for justice…”

Ftizgerald: “The criminal charge had been, had, you know, there had been I think subsequently, there has been detail in relation to that but what I was, what was reported to me, the allegation had been that a serious criminal complaint against Sgt McCAbe, which he had always denied had not been properly investigated by the Garda Siochana. That was the allegation.”

Lawlor: “And that’s in the email is it?”

Fitzgerald: “That, that, that is the only detail in relation to the specific of the complaint against the two of them.

Lawlor: “And that’s what the email says, is that right?’

Fitzgerald: “The allegation had been that a serious criminal complaint against Sgt McCabe, which he’d always denied, had not been properly investigated  and that was the source of disagreement between the two counsel.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Absence of Malice

The Legal Strategy Against Maurice McCabe

UPDATE:

From top: Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan; former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; and Sgt Maurice McCabe

Yesterday.

In The Sunday Times.

John Mooney reported:

“The Disclosures tribunal has been given official notes of conversations between Nóirín O’Sullivan, the former garda commissioner, and senior gardai. They outline the strategy she adopted when dealing with whistleblower Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.”

The contemporaneous records show O’Sullivan did not instruct lawyers to question McCabe’s integrity. Instead she asked them to question the motivation and credibility of allegations he was making about garda colleagues.”

Claims that O’Sullivan had instructed lawyers to question McCabe’s  integrity were based on selected transcripts from the commission, which were leaked to newspapers.

“It was suggested she was telling lawyers to challenge McCabe’s integrity in private while publicly commending him for speaking out against wrongdoing.

“O’Sullivan’s legal team subsequently clarified that they had been asked to challenge the whistleblower’s “motivation and credibility”.

“It is understood O’Sullivan was interviewed in private session by Charleton’s investigators last week.”

Notes show ex-garda chief’s strategy in McCabe inquiry (John Mooney, The Sunday Times)

Previously: The Legal Strategy Against Maurice McCabe

May Day

Rollingnews

Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and former Minister for Justice and current Tanaiste France Fitzgerald

This morning.

Further to questions remaining over what former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Department of Justice knew of the legal strategy which was employed against Sgt Maurice McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015…

Because, readers will recall, the legal strategy of the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was outlined at the commission but later dropped after Sgt McCabe proved claims made by the legal counsel for Ms O’Sullivan, and claims outlined in a five-page letter by the Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon, now a High Court judge, were untrue…

And how nothing of this abandoned strategy was recorded in the commission’s final report…

And how the Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters announced he’s stepping down in February – within hours of the Dail hearing of reports of a phone call from Ms O’Sullivan’s office to Mr Waters on May 15, 2015 – the same day Sgt McCabe delivered his first blow to Ms O’Sullivan’s legal strategy…

Daniel McConnell, in the Irish Examiner, writes:

Dáil chairman, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail, is “considering” a fresh complaint from Labour TD Alan Kelly over information he sought over the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Mr Ó Fearghail yesterday received new correspondence from Mr Kelly and he is now taking the matter under consideration for adjudication, a spokeswoman for the Oireachtas said.

Alan Kelly in fresh Maurice McCabe complaint (Irish Examiner)

Previously: What Is Going On?

Absence Of Malice