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.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.
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 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.”
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.”
Leader: “So why are you being told about it? Did you ever ask yourself that?”
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.”
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