From top: David McCullagh, of RTE; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
RTÉ’s Prime Time broadcast a pre-recorded interview with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
They discussed the Jobstown trial, Regina Doherty, abortion, women in politics and that Love Actually quote.
From the interview…
David McCullagh: “The reality of it was that Paul Murphy was actually helping the situation by getting her out of there?”
Leo Varadkar: “I don’t think, I think that’s one interpretation, you cause a protest, you harass someone, treat them badly shout at them, then after that help them get out. So that’s one perhaps interpretation of what happened.”
“But there is one thing that I would say and I have no difficulty saying it, people need to trust what the Gardai say on the stand, and I can understand that perhaps in a scenario whereby lots of things are happening quickly and people are caught up in the heat of the moment they may have a recollection that isn’t exactly as things happened but I would be very concerned if it’s the case that we would ever have Gardai on a stand in the court giving evidence that is not in line with the facts, that is not in line with the video evidence and I think that there is something there that needs to be looked at both by the Garda Commissioner and senior Garda management. We need to be able to trust that when the Gardai stand up in court and they say something happened that it did happen and it shouldn’t conflict with video evidence and if it does then that is a problem.
McCullagh: “Well should there be an inquiry into it?”
Varadkar: “I don’t think a public inquiry would actually serve any purpose, you know we’ve had a trial. There’s been a trial, went on for nine weeks, the jury heard the evidence from both sides, and they decided to acquit and nobody is disputing that. As has been the case with other things, you know for example the trial of Sean Fitzpatrick, I do think we need to consider why the prosecutions weren’t successful. I don’t think this necessarily requires a public inquiry but we do need to obviously examine these things.”
McCullagh: “I don’t know whether you’ve seen claims by a blogger that she was approached by Gardai and warned against posting criticisms of Regina Doherty on social media but if that turns out to have been true would you be concerned about that?”
Varadkar: “I actually don’t know the facts of that case and I saw something in the paper but I haven’t had a chance to talk to Minister Doherty about it. I would imagine that if anyone was cautioned by the Gardai it would be done for legitimate reason. You know, Gardai don’t caution people because of interpersonal disputes or a civil offence. If somebody is cautioned my understanding is that it has to be related to some sort of criminal offence but I actually don’t know the details of that.”
David McCullagh: “Taoiseach, one area where hard choices will have to be made is in relation to abortion. The Citizens’ Convention by a two-thirds majority recommended unlimited access to abortion. Were you surprised by that?”
Varadkar: “I was a little bit surprised. I wasn’t surprised at all that they proposed that we should repeal and replace the eighth amendment and liberalise our abortion laws. I think that’s very much in line with what we’ve seen in public opinion polls. But the recommendation that they made to allow abortion by choice up to 12 or 22 weeks, that wouldn’t be in line with public opinion polls, that did surprise me a little bit. On the other hand I appreciate that they did a lot of work and they heard a lot of evidence, a lot of personal stories, and they came to that conclusion as a considered conclusion. and it is of course possible that the Oireachtas Committee and subsequently the Irish people may yet come to the same conclusion once we have a debate about it.”
McCullagh: “What’s your view?”
Varadkar: “What I don’t want to do at this stage is to be seen in anyway to be preempting or directing the Oireachtas committee to come out with any particular wording or legislation, but it is my view that our abortion laws are too restrictive. I have said that in the past and that is my view. What we will have now next year is a referendum which will give people the option if they wish to liberalise them, and there will be a free vote on them in parliament.”
McCullagh: “You donated €200 to Women for Election at the weekend, they might have been happier if you had kept the cash and appointed more women to cabinet?”
Varadkar: “They may have been, I think it’s important though to look at the facts, we have a parliamentary system and you elect and select the ministers from members of parliament. There are 12 female TDs who support the government, seven of those 12 are ministers, including the Tanaiste and five at the Cabinet table, and three chair Oireachtas Commitees, so 10 out of the 12 women who support the government are in paid promotional positions.”
“So I don’t think anyone can argue we don’t promote women… we’ve, 10 out of the 12 are in paid promotional positions. The difficulty is we don’t have enough women members of parliament, TDs in the Dail. My party has more than any other party, we have 11, and we are the party that brought in the quotas that made that possible. But we have a long way to go. I am determined that we should do that, that we should ensure that we increase representation in the next Dail and therefore many more women to select from and make a more diverse cabinet. I am a real believer in diversity, I think diversity is good in its own right and you get better decisions if you have a diverse parliament and a diverse government.”
McCullagh: “The Love Actually reference in Downing Street, the socks for Justin Trudeau, why do you do that sort of thing – does it distract from policy?”
Varadkar: “No that’s just me, that’s just my personality. And you know every politician is different, every Taoiseach is different, we all have our own personalities and our ways of doing thing, our own style and own little quirks. I don’t think any of that distracts from policy at all. You know, of the other meetings I’ve had, needless to say, with prime ministers of other countries, presidents, have been very serious meetings, but I don’t think that means that you can’t be a human being as well.”
Barry Cummins, of RTÉ, presented a Prime Time programme about the disappearance of six-year-old twin Mary Boyle near Ballyshannon, Co Donegal in March, 1977.
You may also recall how, last July, Gemma O’Doherty posted her documentary on Mary’s disappearance, called Mary Boyle: The Untold Story, on YouTube.
Watchers of both Ms O’Doherty’s documentary and Mr Cummins’ Prime Time show will note that there were a few similarities between the shows, not least the drone footage.
But there were also some glaring differences – most notably in the quotes of retired detective inspector Aidan Murray.
During the Prime Time programme, Mr Murray told Mr Cummins that he believes he knows the identity of the person behind Mary’s disappearance.
Barry Cummins (voiceover): “So, who abducted Mary Boyle? One of the original investigators tells me that, for the last 40 years, he has suspected a local man to be responsible for Mary’s disappearance.”
Aidan Murray: “A person came in voluntarily into the station to have a chat with us about the child, you know. So, I interviewed that person, in the company of Inspector [PJ] Daly, now deceased. And, in the course of that interview, I took him as a witness first. He began to panic a wee bit and started kind of, would say roaring at me, more or less to say ‘I didn’t do it, I didn’t do it’. I had interviewed a lot of people and have done courses in that, in interviewing serious crime suspects and I know myself in my own heart that by looking at him and the way he looked at me, that he is the person. I’m convinced that he’s the person, even though he didn’t admit it. And I feel that if I had had another hour or so with him, he may have broken.”
Cummins: “I wasn’t there. I wasn’t in that room when you were with this man you believe had the answers.”
Cummins: “But we’re all human, we’re all open to mistakes. In your mind at all, is it possible that that individual is not the man, is not the person who harmed Mary?”
Murray: “No, he is the person. I am convinced of that myself.”
Further to this…
Retired Sgt Martin Collins; retired Det Ins Aidan Murray on Ms O’Doherty’s documentary
In Ms O’Doherty’s documentary, Mr Murray also recalled interviewing a man – in the presence of the late Inspector Daly.
Before Mr Murray’s account of this interview was shown in Ms O’Doherty’s documentary, retired Sgt Martin Collins explained the following:
“A person, who would have been known to Mary, made it his business to contact me at Ballyshannon Garda Station. This would be, some, maybe a week after Mary going missing. And he requested to meet me. But at the particular time, I was engaged in meeting my colleagues from Bundoran. From Ballyshannon to Bundoran, it’s only four miles so I told this person that I was meeting my colleagues, from Bundoran, I’d be only a few minutes and to remain at the station until I came back.”
“In the meantime, I went to Bundoran and, halfway to Bundoran, which only took about three minutes, this person drove his own car behind our patrol car and pulled in behind us at Fener, halfway between Ballyshannon and Bundoran. I got out of, when I finished with the Bundoran lads, I got out of the patrol car, and sat in to his motor car and when I did, he began to cry, sobbing, and told me what a terrible thing what happened – that he knew those little girls, the twins and that he was very fond of them, loved them and that he had children of the same age, and how he felt about Mary’s disappearance.”
“So, in the course of the conversation, I put three scenarios to him: one, that she’s still missing out there; second, that she was kidnapped; and the third one, bluntly, murder. And I said which of those three scenarios would you think is responsible for Mary’s disappearance and he said, the last one. So I said, ‘you mean murder?’. And he said, ‘yes’.”
In Ms O’Doherty’s documentary, she explained that the person who made these allegations to Mr Collins was a relation of the suspect.
And in the days after Mary’s disappearance, AidanMurray spoke to this suspect.
Mr Murray told Ms O’Doherty:
“Inspector [PJ] Daly, who’s recently deceased, and myself interviewed that man. We interviewed him, at one stage I was interviewing him, I told him, ‘just tell us where the child is’. At that stage then he started crying and roaring and accusing me that I was accusing him of the murder of the child.”
“I got a little nudge from the inspector at the time, under the table, to ease off a wee bit. So I was reluctant a wee bit but I did ease off because it was more or less an instruction. And I went out and got him a glass of water, under the instructions of the inspector.
“When I came back then, that particular man had gone back to himself again. I felt that it, that in my own heart, that he had a guilty look. I could see it in his eyes and it was just that, a wee push, that he would have admitted.”
“When you do interview a person that, especially a very strong suspect, after a number of years, you can see things in their eyes if they’re really telling you the truth, or if they look away from you. And I knew from, from previous experience that if you have a man at a certain level, you don’t pull back. You just push that wee bit extra and I felt that I had him. A defence, that he was defending himself, that what he’d done was wrong but I thought that if I’d had has someone else with me, that maybe that extra wee bit of pressure, we would have, we wouldn’t be here today now talking.”
Readers should note that retired Sgt Collins did not feature in last night’s Prime Time show.
However, Mr Cummins did refer to retired Sgt Collins when Mr Cummins highlighted the allegation that there was political interference in the case.
This is an allegation that was raised in the Dáil in October 2015, and featured in Ms O’Doherty documentary last July with quotes from Sgt Collins making the same claim.
However, after Ms O’Doherty’s documentary, the Donegal Post ran a story reporting:
There was and there remains a cover up into the disappearance of young Mary Boyle in 1977, but there was neither political nor state interference, a lead investigator at the time has clarified this week.
He believed that the ‘cover up’ relates to an individual or individual, who may have vital information in helping resolve the near 40-year-old mystery
It follows on from a YouTube documentary which was released on social media about the case and featured an interview with the retired Sergeant.
The documentary alleged that political interference may have resulted in which way the initial investigation was carried out.
In an exclusive interview with the Donegal Post, retired Sergeant Martin Collins said that any suggestion that senior members of the force that he worked with in Ballyshannon, had influenced the direction of the original missing persons investigation were totally erroneous.
He was equally 100% adamant that NO political interference came about, despite an alleged call by a politician to Ballyshannon garda station.
In last night’s Prime Time show, Mr Cummins said:
“The allegation is that a phone call was made by a politician to Ballyshannon Garda Station in 1977, asking that Gardai back off investigating a local man. Last summer, former Sgt Martin Collins gave this interview to the Donegal Post [above] dismissing the suggestion he or his colleagues were influenced by any outside interference and Aidan Murray signed an affidavit to the same effect.”
Following from this, Mr Murray told Mr Cummins:
“There was no political interference whatsoever. I did what I had to do. I was never stopped from doing it through any political interference. No. There was no interference with me. Never was there.”
In Ms O’Doherty’s documentary.
She explained that some officers allege that, in the days after Mary’s disappearance, a politician contacted Ballyshannon Garda Station and ordered that the chief suspect not be arrested.
Ms O’Doherty also explained that this politician knew the suspect and that he, the politician, also had a close relationship with the late Superintendent Dom Murray who was in charge of the case.
Mr Collins told Ms O’Doherty:
“A phone call was made to Ballyshannon station, it was a politician. The gist of the conversation was that none of a particular family should be made a suspect for Mary’s disappearance.”
In relation to the same phone call, Mr Murray told Ms O’Doherty:
“Well I know that, as a result of that phonecall, that certain people weren’t allowed to be interviewed and that it was all hands-off them, and it was ‘look somewhere else’, as the man says. As it was said, the sting of the whole investigation went out of that whole investigation, you know?”
From top: Maurice McCabe; Katie Hannon and David McCullagh on Prime Time last night
On RTÉ’s Prime Time.
Prime Time‘s political correspondent Katie Hannon gave a further update on the allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe which are now being investigated by the Disclosures Tribunal, headed by Mr Justice Peter Charleton, of the Supreme Court.
Readers will recall how, in her original Prime Time report on the matter, on February 9, 2017, Ms Hannon explained the sequence of events that led to Sgt McCabe becoming the subject of a false allegation of child abuse in a Tusla file, due to a “clerical error”.
In her February 9 report, Ms Hannon reported that an email from May 2014 indicated the counsellor – after realising she made the serious error in a referral letter about Sgt McCabe to Tusla –
“believed that the local superintendent, the superintendent in the relevant district, had been asked to meet the Garda Commissioner in relation to this case. And there was some anxiety that this superintendent hadn’t been brought up to date about the error in the file and it had to be sent to him immediately”
The Garda press office told Prime Time that Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan had no meeting with the superintendent in question in May, 2014 and did not request such a meeting.
Further to this, and having seen this email, Francesca Comyn, of TheSunday Business Postreported, on February 12, that the email from the counsellor to Tusla stated:
“I had another call in relation to the retrospective report which as you are aware contains a clerical error. I was informed that the superintendent in the jurisdiction referred to in the report was not yet aware of the clerical error and has been asked to meet with the Garda Commissioner in relation to the case.”
Further to this…
From last night’s (2 mins and 25 second) report from Katie Hannon on Prime Time…
David McCullagh: “The Disclosures Tribunal into allegations there was a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe is under way but it will be some time before public hearings commence. Before that, our political correspondent Katie Hannon joins us to clear up one key issue in relation to the revelation of a Tusla file containing false allegations of a serious sexual assault. Katie, what’s tonight’s story all about?”
Katie Hannon: “There’s two terms of reference, within the 16 terms of reference that Peter Charleton is going to be looking at, at this tribunal. One is to inquire whether this Tusla file was knowingly used by senior members of An Garda Siochana to discredit Sgt McCabe and another of the terms asks what the former and current Garda Commissioners [Martin Callinan and Noirin O’Sullivan] knew about these matters.”
“So, go back to that Tusla file. Questions have already been raised. I discussed it in this studio about an email that was in that file released to the McCabes which seemed to indicate that the Garda Commissioner had asked for a meeting way back in May 2014 – in relation to what was in that file. Now, we put this to the Garda Commissioner at the time and she told us she had not requested that meeting, that meeting did not happen.”
McCullagh: “So, do we know what that email actually referred to?”
Hannon: “So, we now can say what that meeting, what that email referred to. I’ve now learned that the “commissioner” referred to in that email was actually the assistant commissioner for the northern region at the time, the former commissioner Kieran Kenny. According to an informed source, assistant commissioner Kenny met with the superintendent, the relevant superintendent that month, in May 2014 and, crucially, he sent a full report of this meeting to Garda Headquarters.
So, basically, the upshot of this is that we now know that, two and a half years ago, Garda Headquarters were made aware that there was this allegation of child rape recorded by Tusla against Sgt Maurice McCabe and also that it had been subsequently withdrawn and described as a clerical error.”
And the questions that will be raised, presumably at the tribunal will be: what did they do on foot of that? We know, for a fact, that they did not contact Maurice McCabe. In fact, I understand that Sgt McCabe has yet to have any contact from Garda Headquarters even since this whole story broke a short time ago. We asked the Garda Press Office about this, they said they were precluded from commenting because the tribunal is now up and running. We asked the Justice Minister [Frances Fitzgerald] if she’d been briefed about it and, again, she declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate because the tribunal has now commenced.”
In addition to reports of contact being made between the gardai and the counsellor after the discovery of the error, in May 2014, it has also been reported that there was at least an attempt by a Tusla social worker to contact a garda just after the false allegation/error was initially communicated by the counsellor to Tusla in August 2013.
Following an allegation made against Sgt McCabe in 2006, a file was sent to the DPP – with the recommendation that there was no grounds for a prosecution – and that the DPP directed that no prosecution should be taken, with the observation that it was doubtful the allegations should constitute a crime at all.
In her original report on the matter, on February 9, Ms Hannon reported that, within days of the counsellor notifying Tusla of the false allegation – presumably without realising her referral contained a mistake/false allegation – a Tusla social worker contacted the garda who investigated the original 2006 complaint made against Sgt McCabe, to request a meeting.
However, it’s not known if that meeting took place.
Katie Hannon and David McCullough on last night’s RTE Prime Time
Further to last week’s Prime Time in which Prime Time‘s political correspondent Katie Hannon outlined the sequence of events concerning how a false allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe ended up being circulated by Tusla.
Ms Hannon had further information, after speaking with the solicitor of the woman at the centre of the original allegation made in 2006; and after speaking with someone who has seen the Tusla referral document which contained the false abuse allegation.
The new information, as presented by Ms Hannon, means there are now conflicting accounts of how events unfolded – as put forward by the HSE, and subsequently the Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil, Tusla, the Gardaí, and the solicitor for the woman at the centre of the original 2006 allegation.
David McCullough: “Now, lest we forget all this political turmoil is the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe and the revelation last week by our political correspondent Katie Hannon of the false sex abuse allegations made against him. As Katie told us, last week, those allegations in 2013 arose after a counsellor said she pasted the allegation from another file in error. Katie joins me now. There is a tribunal of inquiry to look into this and related matters. But, in advance of that, the department of justice has written to the Garda Commissioner posing six questions that the McCabes want answered, relating to: when the Gardai first learned about the allegations, about contacts between gardai and the supposed victim and contacts between gardai and the counsellor. And Katie, you have some new information about this?”
Katie Hannon: “Yes. Of course, a huge amount of focus has focussed on this referral from this counsellor that had this, what was described as this clerical error, this cut and paste error. Now, I’ve spoken with somebody who’s actually seen this document. We haven’t seen this document because it wasn’t released to the McCabes in the Tusla file because it had been retrieved because of data protection by the counselling service.”
“But, according to my source, what the counsellor is now telling the management there is that: what actually happened there was not a cut and paste error. She was actually using the template of a previous referral and typing over it, with this new McCabe referral and failed to delete some information referring to the previous referral. So it wasn’t a ‘pasting in’ error, it was a ‘failure to delete’ error. And she says that she just simply did not notice that before she sent on the referral [to Tusla].”
“Now, according to the person that I was talking to, who has seen it, it should have been obvious to anyone looking at it that there was a mistake in it because, I’m told, there actually was the names of two alleged abusers on the file that went over. Like the phrase that was used to me was: it would have jumped off the page. So, why that happened in Tusla when were then using this document to create the other files, the referrals, the files on the [McCabe] children, that’s the question that remains now.”
McCullough: “There’s been a lot of focus on how this error was ultimately discovered.”
Hannon: “Yes, and I’ve confirmed today that the girl at the centre of this, who made the original allegation back in 2006, she has given an account of how this happened that does not tally with the account that the Health Minister Simon Harris put on the Dáilrecord this week.”
McCullough: “And in what way is it different?”
Hannon: “Well, first of all, Minister Harris told the Dail that, and he was using information that he got from the HSE, he said that the girl had contacted the counsellor to say that the allegation of digital rape was incorrect, that she had never made it and that’s how the mistake came to light. That’s what the Dáil was told.”
“But I spoke to the girl’s solicitor today and he tells me that that is not the case. He says that, this is the sequence of events: the girl’s mother made the initial appointment, for her, with this counsellor. She attended just once. She had no idea that a referral had gone to Tusla as a result of this one counselling session, until many months later, her family were contacted by the guards and they were asked to attend to the Garda station about this allegation. Her parents went to the Garda station, looked at this, were presented with the allegation and said immediately: this is not our daughter’s allegation, this was never made.”
“And according to the girl’s solicitor, this was the last that she had to do with it, that she, whoever contacted the counsellor, it wasn’t her.”
“And also, what this does is it raises questions about when the gardai first were aware of this mistake. We know that Tusla sent them the file in early May. According to this account, from this girl’s solicitor, the guards were informed that it was incorrect, there was a mistake in it, by the 4th or 5th of May and that’s not what the rest of the files show…”
McCullough: “What does the Tusla file say?”
Hannon: “Yeah, the Tusla file says that the first contact with the garda was the original investigating guard that investigated the 2006 complaint – that was done back in August 2013. We don’t know what came of that, if the meeting took place. We know that Tusla contacted the guards with the referral in early May. We know that they were told about the referral, from the counsellor, on the 14th of May  and then they say, the file says they contacted the guards one or two days after that.”
McCullough: “Ok, so very, very briefly, we already have conflicting accounts here?”
Hannon: “We do, we’ve two serious conflicts. We’ve a conflict between the account that the minister [for health] gave the Dail this week to what the client says as regards when we found out about the error and there are other conflicts about when the guards knew about it in the first place and when the guards knew this second allegation was a mistake. So, you know, the attempt or demand for the answers to these six questions might be trickier I think than we think.”
McCullough: “Hence, the tribunal, ok, Katie, thank you very much.”
Solicitor Trevor Collins and Prime Time’s Miriam O’Callaghan
On RTÉ’s Prime Time.
Garda whistleblower Keith Harrison’s solicitor Trevor Collins spoke to Miriam O’Callaghan about how Keith was also the subject of a referral to Tusla over a false abuse allegation.
From the interview…
Miriam O’Callaghan: “Garda [Keith] Harrison. Now, he too, I just want to read this to get it right. He was the subject of a referral to Tusla over abuse allegations that were later found to be untrue.”
Trevor Collins: “That is correct. It was a very, very disturbing and worrisome development for Keith Harrison and his partner, Marisa. As you can imagine the fact that someone is referred to Tusla – no matter what stage or what capacity in life, or office they hold – it is, by any measure, a disturbing, and something that would devastate a family and it had that effect on Keith and Marisa where they were, without any notice, invited to meet with Tusla, at a formal meeting, in the Tusla offices. And that came to them out of the blue.”
“It was, they were told during that meeting that they had no issue and no case to answer. That caused untold stress, upset, anguish. She worries, as a mother that someone is watching them.”
O’Callaghan: “I would assume Tusla would say they only went along and investigated and spoke to everybody because this complaint or allegation had been made.”
Collins: “That is fair and, to be fair, Keith and Marisa would be the first to say that the social workers from Tusla who visited their home, who then met with, were more than accommodating, understanding. The individuals who visited and conducted this investigation themselves, appeared to suggest to Keith – and this is in Keith and Marisa’s view – that they could see no reason why they were doing what they had to do but they were being told and that they had to carry out this duty.
O’Callaghan: “Now, in the end, they were found to be completely untrue, these allegations, isn’t that correct?”
Collins: “Absolutely, untrue. And there was no justification for this and no case to answer by anyone.”
O’Callaghan: “Now, Keith Harrison did try to make contact with the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, didn’t he?”
Collins: “Keith Harrison has been writing continuously since June 2014, to the minister, about the issues he has suffered. He has brought, to her attention, the efforts – as he sees it – by senior management of An Garda Siochana to smear him, to destroy his credibility, to undermine the very foundation that makes him a partner, the things that make a person, outside of their employment…I suppose, really, what I’m trying to explain to you, is, look, their fundamental being was being attacked.”
From top: John McGuinness, of Fianna Fáil; Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone
During the ‘statements of clarification’ session in the Dáil.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was asked a million many times to state when he first became aware of the smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe.
At one point, he had the following exchange with Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: “Will the Taoiseach tell us when he first became aware of that smear against Garda Sergeant McCabe?”
Enda Kenny: “I became aware of it the same as most of the rest of the nation, which was after the Prime Time programme.”
This is despite the fact Labour TD Brendan Howlin spoke about the campaign during Leaders’ Questions the day before the Prime Time programme was broadcast.
Readers will also recall how that supposed conversation he had with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, prior to her meeting Sgt Maurice McCabe, never happened…
Further to this…
Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness – who has previously said he was warned not to trust Sgt Maurice McCabe by then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in a car park of Bewley’s Hotel on the Naas Road on January 24, 2014 – accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of knowing about the allegations being made against Sgt Maurice McCabe ‘a long time ago’.
Readers will note that, in the Sunday Independent at the weekend, Philip Ryan reported that Mr McGuinness claimed Mr Callinan made false child abuse allegations – about Sgt McCabe – to Mr McGuinness during that meeting in 2014.
From last night’s session…
John McGuinness: “We’re here discussing this public inquiry because of the fact that the McCabe family have no trust whatsoever in a private inquiry. We’ve had enough of them. And, in relation to the smear campaign, why is it that we cannot admit that ,for the last number of years, for anyone who wished to stop and listen to what was being said in this house…I’ll deal with the car park in a minute…why is it that when we were told what was happening in relation to Maurice McCabe, anyone that supported him, was sold this narrative that he was a sex abuser. That he had abused people sexually. And that’s what they said. And therefore, those that supported him were knocked off of their support by virtue of that gossip and that innuendo and that accusation.”
“So the fact of the matter is: that while that was going on, the Tusla file existed. So how many gardai knew about that Tusla file? How many in this house knew about the allegations that were being made? And when he appeared before the public accounts committee, the great efforts were made by this house – and by members within it – to stop him from coming forward. That’s why we’re here today.”
“Because we have ignored Maurice McCabe and the other Maurice McCabes that exist out there. And if we’re to have any public inquiry into this then we have to take into consideration, the culture that has sent all of those people out sick, some of them struggling now with mental illness. And we cannot ignore those people. And the Government cannot ignore them. But how many within Government knew about those, about these allegations that were being made? Even though it might have been gossip. It was gossip that was being spread maliciously, to take you off your game and not to support Maurice McCabe. And all of us, in this house, knew what was going on.”
Enda Kenny: “I think it’s obvious Deputy McGuinness that the entire country feels sympathy with the pressure and stress and distress of the McCabe family. Now am I, am I right or not or did you have a meeting with the former commissioner of the gardai [Martin Callinan] and did you hear information, relevant to a smear campaign against Garda McCabe? And if you did, what did you do about it?”
McGuinness: “I knew about it Taoiseach because you knew long time ago about the accusations that were being made against Maurice McCabe. Everyone in this house knew and great efforts were made to derail Maurice McCabe and the story he was telling. Everyone knew. And the fact of the matter is, that it was a deliberate attempt to undermine Maurice McCabe, a deliberate attempt.”
Frances Fitzgerald: “[inaudible]…you say you had your meeting. That would have meant that some of these issues that you were told about would have been dealt with in the O’Higgins commission…”
McGuinness: “On legal advice, minister, I followed legal advice.”
Fitzgerald: “But… you followed legal advice… and like Minister [Katherine] Zappone, I didn’t want to give legs to something that was totally untrue…”
Fitzgerald: “Then what are you saying…”
McGuinness: “…I felt myself that it was untrue. And that’s the fact of the matter but you did nothing about Maurice McCabe.”
Fitzgerald: “Sorry, deputy, you didn’t want to act on legal advice…but you had direct information, deputy, which is more than many people or anybody in this house had.”
Later – after Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty asked Mr McGuinness to correct his claim that ‘everyone in the house’ knew
McGuinness: “Those of us that were clearly associated with supporting Maurice McCabe, knew about this and not everyone in the house.”
Fine Gael TD John Deasy
On RTÉ’s Prime Time.
Prime Time‘s political correspondent Katie Hannon interview Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy.
Mr Deasy explained to Ms Hannon that, on the same day the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan appeared before the Public Accounts Committee – and made his “disgusting” remark – he was approached by a senior garda who warned him not to trust Sgt Maurice McCabe.
He explained he lobbied Taoiseach Enda Kenny after the garda’s approach.
John Deasy: “Before the meeting, I was approached by a very senior guard and he proceeded to make some very derogatory comments about Maurice McCabe. The nature of which were, Maurice McCabe couldn’t be believed and couldn’t be trusted on anything. They were very, very derogatory. It was a serious attack and very strongly worded.”
“Maurice McCabe was in the Public Accounts Committee the following Thursday and I thought that he was credible and I made that judgement.”
Katie Hannon: “You’re quoted after that meeting, actually, in newspaper reports, as saying he’s a credible witness, he’s responsible and knowledgeable in his answers. How did you square that with what you had been told about him, by this senior garda.”
Deasy: “I formulated a view that he was correct. I think that I and others realised that there was a campaign against Maurice McCabe, to undermine his character…”
Hannon: “Being run by who?”
Deasy: “The gardai.”
Hannon: “At a senior level?”
Deasy: “Yeah and I had first-hand, you know, contact of that..”
Hannon: “So what did you do with this information?”
Deasy: “A couple of weeks later, I was having a meeting with Enda Kenny in Government buildings and, after that, it was on a separate issue, I asked to meet with him privately about Maurice McCabe and the entire affair. He would have known that that was significant. It’s not something I would have done every day. Probably twice in 15 years. And at that meeting, I said to him that I believed that Maurice McCabe would be vindicated. That he was being treated extremely badly. And that he was genuine and that this needed to be handled completely differently.”
Hannon: “And how did he respond to that?”
Deasy: “You know, he listened, he acknowledged it and the meeting ended. I do know, at the time, that another individual in Fine Gael was making a similar case to one of this cabinet colleagues, at the same time. And was being ignored and really wasn’t getting anywhere, was begin dismissed with regard to how the whistleblowers were being dealt with at the time and the treatment that was being meted out to them.”
Deasy: “I really can’t defend anyone in Government when it comes to Maurice McCabe.”
Also on RTE’s Prime Time last night.
Former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte (above) told David McCullough how a garda told him of the false allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe back in 2014.
David McCullough: “You were sitting at cabinet for some of the period when all this was going on. Did you hear rumours about Maurice McCabe? The smears about Maurice McCabe?”
Pat Rabbitte: “I did, yes. Maurice McCabe approached me at the end of 2006 or early 2007, about policing difficulties and malfeasance and he had a major, thorough file. And I helped him or advised him, on the confidential basis he sought as best I could. But, when the incident blew up in 2013/14 – probably early 2014 – I was asked on a programme like this, that same question. And I explained that I did indeed know Maurice McCabe as an upstanding and, in my view, an honest, conscientious policeman.”
“And I was approached that night by a friend of mine, who’s a retired garda, to say that he didn’t know that I had any knowledge of Maurice McCabe and that I better be careful because did I not know what was going around and he, graphically, told me what was going ’round.”
McCullough: “And did you tell anyone about that?”
Rabbitte: “No, nobody. I thought it was foul gossip. I didn’t believe there was anything to it. And I didn’t think it should be given legs. But I did express my view publicly and privately about the probity and integrity of Maurice McCabe.”
McCullough: “But, if he was being traduced like that behind the scenes, was there not an obligation, on a politician, to somebody, whether it was the Minister for Justice, whether it was the Taoiseach?”
Rabbitte: “I think, in hindsight, you might be right. In hindsight, you may be right. But, you know, you could say the same about your own profession and you could say the same about others who were told about it.”
Reporter Katie Hannon (top) outlined the sequence of events that lead to Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe being falsely accused of sexually abusing a child – a false allegation that was circulated by Tusla.
Ms Hannon explained:
January 2006: Sgt Maurice McCabe made a serious complaint against a colleague which resulted in a sanction being imposed on that colleague – according to a document prepared for the O’Higgins’ Commission of Investigation in 2016 by the chief state solicitor’s office.
December 2006: This colleague made a complaint about Sgt McCabe on behalf of his daughter. The daughter subsequently made a statement in which she alleged that about ten years previously, when she was around six years old, she had been playing hide and seek with Maurice McCabe and his two eldest children at their home. She said when Sgt McCabe found her, he tickled her and pressed up against her in an inappropriate manner. The allegation was investigated and a file was sent to the DPP with the recommendation that there was no grounds for a prosecution. The DPP directed that no prosecution should be taken – with the observation that it was doubtful the allegations should constitute a crime at all.
August, 2013: A counsellor notified Tusla that a client she was counselling had disclosed that she had experienced one incident of sexual abuse during childhood by Sgt McCabe. This client was supposedly the same girl who made the statement in 2006. But details of the alleged abuse had changed. According to the counsellor’s report, it was said to have involved digital penetration – vaginal and anal. Within days of being told about the allegation, a social worker contacted the original investigating garda to request a meeting about the case. It’s not known if the meeting took place. But a formal Garda notification form, setting out the detail of the allegation, was not sent to the superintendent in charge in the relevant district until May 2 – eight months later. Sgt McCabe was not told that the Tusla files containing an allegation that he had abused a child.
Supt Dave Taylor, former head of the Garda Press Office, would later (in May/June 2016) tell Sgt McCabe that he was told to spread this allegations through texts, etc., to gardai, journalists and others. In a protected disclosure, he said he was told to do this by senior Garda management and that the then deputy Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was kept fully briefed of the campaign at all times – a claim she has rejected.
January, 2014: The then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, accompanied by the then deputy Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, during which Mr Callinan made the infamous ‘disgusting’ comment about Garda whistleblowers Maurice McCabe and John Wilson.
Shortly after this, Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness, who was then chair of the Public Accounts Committee, claims he was privately contacted by Mr Callinan and met him in a car park on the Naas Road. During their conversation, Mr Callinan told Mr McGuinness that Sgt McCabe could not be trusted.
March 25, 2014: Mr Callinan resigned from his position as Garda Commissioner.
April 2014: Tusla opened separate files on Sgt McCabe’s four children – all of which included the allegation that Sgt McCabe was alleged to have abused a six-year-old girl and that the abuse involved both vaginal and anal penetration.
May 14, 2014: The counsellor contacted Tusla to say she had made an administrative error in her report to Tusla. In turn, a Tusla email states: ‘The line that ‘this abuse involves digital penetration, both vaginal and anal’ is an error and should not be in the referral. It is, in fact, a line from another referral on another adult that has been pasted in error. The counsellor has apologised and is sending us an amended report asap’.
Within minutes of receiving this report, the social worker released an instruction that the garda notification be amended immediately and the relevant superintendent be notified of the same. The amended garda notification was sent to the relevant superintendent in charge, saying that an earlier report from this counsellor contained an administrative error. The notification said there had been an allegation of a single incident of sexual abuse, stating: ‘At the time of the incident, both the girl and the alleged were fully clothed and the incident involved inappropriate contact’.
An email indicates that, within days of the ‘error’ being discovered, the counsellor believed that the local superintendent of the relevant district had been asked to meet the Garda Commissioner in relation to this case. And there was some anxiety that this superintendent hadn’t been brought up to date about the error in the file and it had to be sent to him immediately. In a statement from the Garda Press Office to Prime Time about this, saying, “Commissioner O’Sullivan had no meeting with the superintendent in question in May, 2014 and did not request such a meeting. No such meeting has ever taken place between Commissioner O’Sullivan and that superintendent.”
December 29, 2015: A child protection social worker wrote to Sgt McCabe saying Tusla was investigating an allegation of abuse against him from the 1990s and that the abuse included digital penetration. He was invited to a meeting to discuss the allegations. It was the first time Sgt McCabe had heard of the allegation. He responded, via his solicitor, stating the allegation was ‘wholly untrue’ and set out the circumstances behind the original, entirely different, allegation and the DPP’s finding that it was doubtful the allegations constituted a crime at all.
June 20, 2016: The same social worker from Tusla responded, stating the agency was obliged to assess the allegations but conceded ‘I apologise that a mistake was made in my previous correspondence. I can confirm to you that no allegation of digital penetration had been made in relation to your client.’
January 10, 2017: After requesting copies of every Tusla records about him and his family, Sgt McCabe received a thick file of the various, incorrect notifications to the gardai.
The files also show that the girl who made the statement in 2006 had told Tusla that she did not wish to – last August – to pursue the matter any further.
January 27, 2017: The chief operations officer of Tusla wrote to the Secretary General of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs acknowledging that ‘mistakes were made in the management of this matter’ and saying that he had ‘instituted a case review internal to Tusla’. It also stated: ‘I regret that the management of this case did not reach the high standard we have set for the service and it is out intention to issue a full formal apology to Mr McCabe for the failings’. The McCabe family are still awaiting this apology.
Meanwhile, readers will recall how on Wednesday, the terms of reference for the commission of investigation into claims of an orchestrated smear campaign against Sgt McCabe within the gardai and with the knowledge of Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, were published.
These terms of reference state that the commission of investigation must look at the circulation of an allegation of criminal misconduct made against Sgt McCabe by Supt Dave Taylor and to find out what former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan knew about it and when they knew about it.
However, there is no mention of the allegation itself being investigated.
It’s also emerged that the terms of reference were published after Sgt Maurice McCabe met with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone two weeks ago. Tusla is under Ms Zappone’s remit.
This morning, Sean Costello, solicitor for Sgt Maurice McCabe, spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTE One and they had the following exchange:
Sean O’Rourke: “Has sergeant McCabe met Minister Zappone?”
Sean Costello: “I believe that he has.”
O’Rourke: “Well I suppose the answer suggests you were not at that meeting.”
O’Rourke: “Right. Do you know anything about it or how he got on?”
Costello: “I’m afraid I don’t.”
O’Rourke: “Or when it took place?”
Costello: “It would have been close to two weeks ago.”
O’Rourke: “Was he in anyway assured or reassured by her?”
Costello: “Well I think that, after the meeting, he was happy that he had been met by the minister but yes, it was a case of the minister receiving the information that was being given by Maurice and Lorraine McCabe in relation to the matters that transpired once they received the Tusla file [in January 2017].”
RTÉ’s Prime Time is to broadcast a report tonight featuring never before seen footage of insurance fraudsters staging road crashes in order to make bogus insurance claims for damages.
The footage filmed by gardai features two collisions. One involving a car and a van happens in the dead of night. After the collision, a car carrying two men arrives on the scene and the men get into the crashed car before emergency services are called to the scene.
The footage also shows the driver of the van that was rear ended by a car, instruct the man who crashed into him, to “move back and do it one more time”, the car then rams the van a second time….
From top: Artist’s impression of the Mary Robinson Presidiential Library in Ballina, Co Mayo; Mary Robinson
Staying in tonight?
Grab a tay.
Laura Fitzgerald at RTÉ writes:
Tonight RTÉ Prime Time will feature a special report delving into the funding of the new Mary Robinson Centre project. It’s estimated it will cost almost €8.5 million to develop a Presidential library in the former President’s home town of Ballina.
A number of concerns have been expressed about the cost of the centre, it’s location and the fact that papers of a former President will not be housed in many of the existing archive departments in universities.
Traditionally the papers of former Presidents have been donated to University College Dublin or Trinity College Dublin. Controversially, Mrs. Robinson has applied for tax relief for making the donation.
Mayo County Council has also been officialy designated as an institution to which donors can now contribute items of Heritage value, which would entitle them to tax relief. NUI Galway is the academic partner for the Centre, the Department of Arts & Heritage has given a grant of €2 million and Mayo County Council has committed €1.5 million.
The establishment of a separate Presidential Library in Ireland is unprecedented.
The Chairman of the Oireachtas Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs Committee Peader Tóibin speaks on tonight’s RTÉ Prime Time, he tells the programme;
“At our next meeting I will be putting it to the committee that this is a serious concern and I will be asking the committee for their backing to send a letter to those three groups so they will come before us and shed light on the process they are involved in. We just want to make sure that the money is spent properly.
We simply want to make sure that the State is not on the hook for money into the future and we don’t have a crisis like we had in the Picture Palace in Galway and the only way to do that is to create transparency and that is the objective of the committee.”
Mr. Tóibin has also raised concerns about the role local politics has played in the state funding of the project.
“I think when a Taoiseach is involved in a particular project in his own county. When a Taoiseach gives his backing to a project before a decision is made within the Department, then there are major concerns then you would ask the question – is it being proceeded with for the greater good or is it being proceeded with maybe for local parish pump politics reason”