Better Late Than Never



From top: Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan; Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness; Sean O’Rourke

You may recall Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness’ speech in the Dáil last week in which he stated:

Every effort was made by those within the Garda Síochána at senior level to discredit Garda Maurice McCabe.

The Garda Commissioner confided in me in a car park on the Naas Road that Garda McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him.

The meeting between Mr McGuinness and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan took place in the car park of the Bewley’s Hotel on the Naas Road in Dublin on January 24, 2014.

This was six days before Sgt McCabe finally appeared in private before the Public Accounts Committee, of which Mr McGuinness was chairman.

The Irish Examiner has reported that it was Mr Callinan who sought the meeting with Mr McGuinness.

Further to this, Mr McGuinness spoke to an indignant Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning.

Grab a tay…

Sean O’Rourke: “The question is being asked again. I know you spoke on This Week with Richard Crowley about this yesterday. Just to quote to you, the heading on the Irish Independent’s editorial this morning: ‘It’s a bit late telling us this now, Mr McGuinness’.

John McGuinness: “But it isn’t, Sean. The fact of the matter is and I explained this before. That the reason why this is being put it into the public domain now by way of the Dáil debate last week is because Maurice McCabe continues to be questioned. His integrity was questioned by the Garda Commissioner, the context of O’Higgins, and arising from the O’Higgins report, I felt that it was absolutely necessary to make clear that there was and is an ongoing effort being made to undermine individuals like Maurice McCabe and they are fearful of coming forward to give their story. I had to make a decision back then when I met the Garda Commissioner and in my opinion, to put it simply, it was a decision, the lesser evil, for the greater good, because Maurice McCabe then did come forward in full uniform and gave us the evidence that was required to deal with the penalty points issue.”

O’Rourke: “Yes and some…”

McGuinness: “And everybody in the political system, and elsewhere, were against him coming forward.”

O’Rourke: “There was subsequently then a Commission of Inquiry, presided over by Mr Justice O’Higgins, into not just the penalty point issue but other matters. There were 97 witnesses at that commission, were you one of them?”

McGuinness: “No I wasn’t one of them, no.”

O’Rourke: “Did you not think though that you had this vital insight into the thinking, at senior level of Garda management, assuming that your story is accurate, that this should have been brought forward to the Commission.”

McGuinness: “Well that vital insight, as you describe it, Sean, was known across the system within Leinster House…”

O’Rourke: “Oh, what you talked about last week was a very, very specific intervention by the then Garda Commissioner..”

McGuinness: “Oh yes, the intervention was…”

O’Rourke: “And why didn’t you go to Judge O’HIggins and tell him?”

McGuinness: “Because, at that time, the decision had to be made, whether or not we could get Maurice McCabe before the [Public] accounts committee. Efforts were made to stop Maurice McCabe from coming forward and when he did, he did great service and…”

O’Rourke: “But…”

McGuinness: “The evidence was brought before us and we made our conclusions..”

O’Rourke: “But what about the sequence here though. Did, was the Commission not sitting after that appearance at the PAC, by Maurice McCabe?

McGuinness: “Yes but the point I’m making is that efforts were made prior to him appearing before the Public Accounts Committee to stop that appearance. In fact, when we had the evidence it was demanded of us that we would return the evidence to the Garda Commissioner at that time and we decided not to and we then went through a legal process whereby we would examine the evidence and then listen to Garda McCabe in private session. That session was the only session in the five years where evidence of that kind was taken from an individual and the rest came from there. Now at that point…”

O’Rourke: “That’s all, that’s all perfectly logical and people will not have any difficulty in understanding that, John McGuinness, but what they will perhaps have difficulty understanding is why you sat on your hands with this information about a secret meeting in a hotel car park with the then Garda Commissioner which, you say, was set out, was designed on the Commissioner’s part to undermine the credibility of Maurice McCabe. And you say you didn’t go to the, to the O’Higgins Commission with that?”

McGuinness: “It’s necessary, Seán to say this now because of the fact…”

O’Rourke: “But there was a judge of the High Court sitting on all this?”

McGuinness: “The O’Higgins…”

O’Rourke: “You didn’t go there?”

McGuinness: “Yes. otheThe O’Higgins commission has made their report and I allowed that process to go through, believing that Maurice McCabe would be exonerated. Now, what has transpired after that, in leaked documents and so on, is the fact that the Garda Commissioner set out to, it is reported, set out to destroy the credibility of Maurice McCabe and his integrity. And because that happened, I felt that it had to be put on record that this meeting happened and that, during all of this time, there was an effort made, at senior level, within the force, to undermine not only Maurice McCabe but many others who have brought forward vital information into how the whole, sorry, as to how their work is being done. And I point to the Lucia O’Farrell case. You have another case there this morning. But there is the Lucia O’Farrell which, if it was examined, would tell us everything that is wrong with the Garda investigation and that resulted in the death of Shane O’Farrell.”

O’Rourke: “But are you, are you saying in all of this, you don’t accept, for instance, there have been not just one but two statements by Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, the most recent of which was issued on the 25th of May in which she states very clearly that they must radically and permanently change the pattern of their dealings with whistleblowers and they realise that there are shortcomings and she’s adamant that she did not set out to attack the integrity of Maurice McCabe.”

McGuinness: “Well, Seán, let me take you back to 2011, following the results of a report, sorry, an investigation into that district where a chief superintendent exonerated everybody. Everybody. And that particular report now stands in stark contrast with the findings of O’Higgins. And because of that we need to understand O’Higgins through that particular investigation in 2011. And serious questions remain unanswered and the questions are: is there a continuous culture to cover up, within the Garda force, the whistleblowers that are under siege in that…”

O’Rourke: “Yeah but you covered up your own meeting, your own secret meeting with the Garda Commissioner?

McGuinness: “No I didn’t. Had I brought that forward, at that time, Seán, it might very well have scuppered the whole Public Accounts Committee…”

O’Rourke: “No but long after, long after the successful appearance by Garda McCabe, which clearly, you know, had the desired result on your part, you go to hear him, and members had a chance to make their own minds up, but long after that, the O’Higgins Commission was still in session. You could have gone there with information about this meeting which would have helped Judge O’Higgins in his deliberations. Do you accept that?”

McGuinness: “I accept that that may be the case…I made…”

O’Rourke: “May be the case. Do you regret not going to him?”

McGuinness:I made the call, Seán that, having heard the O’Higgins report and having listened to the debate that it was time to put on record a piece of proof that showed that the culture within the force continued in a vein that militated against Sgt Maurice McCabe…”

O’Rourke: “Was it, was it remiss of you not to go to the O’Higgins Commission?”

McGuinness: “It was my judgement, it was my judgement that I would do it in this way and I believe that having the O’Higgins report come out and been accepted and Maurice McCabe be exonerated, that was fine. But now we have another controversy and it is because of that controversy, and in the intervention of a Dáil debate last week, that I raised this matter and I believe I was correct to do it in that way…”

O’Rourke: “You see nothing wrong…”

McGuinness: “For the better or the greater good, we have got the evidence out, we’ve had a public hearing in relation to Maurice McCabe, none of that would have been able to happen if a different course of action was taken prior to that. And I believe that my actions have been vindicated by virtue of the fact [inaudible] full disclosure.”

O’Rourke:Is it possible that you felt, in hindsight, at the time that it really wasn’t good form on your part, as chair of the PAC, to hold a meeting with the Garda Commissioner, not to tell your fellow committee members that you had done so and then you sat on that information because you didn’t want to be embarrassed by it becoming publicly and then very, very late in the day, you decided to come clean about it?”

McGuinness: “None of that is correct, Seán. The fact of the matter is…”

O’Rourke: “But it is correct to say that you didn’t go to the O’Higgins…”

Talk over each other

McGuinness: “The vile stories that were being circulated in relation to Maurice McCabe were known to most people that were interested in the plight of that individual, we knew about those stories and I believed in Maurice McCabe and I’m glad that I’ve now been vindicated in that position. Because Maurice McCabe’s character and his integrity has come out intact, although it’s still being questioned within the force, during the course of the O’Higgins inquiry and that is the fact.”

O’Rourke: “And what about the last line in that aforementioned editorial in the [Irish] Independent: ‘Mr McGuinness let down the whistleblowers, the Dáil and the public by keeping his secret to himself for so long.”

McGuinness: “No I actually think it was possible for the whistleblowers to come forward in the full, with the full protection of the Public Accounts Committee.”

O’Rourke: “Yes you did.”

McGuinness: “And indeed, the Public Accounts Committee itself, because it’s not about me, dealt with it in a very honourable and straight forward way and resisted the attempt by the authorities to take back the evidence and to not have it dealt with and had I done anything else, other than what I did, then we would not have heard from Maurice McCabe..”

Talk over each other

O’Rourke: “Yeah, there’s no disputing any of that but…you’re not answering the question we’re asking. That’s fine, nobody is criticising you for that but people are criticising you for is what you did after, or didn’t do after, Maurice McCabe had been to and from the PAC.”

McGuinness: “No you asked me about the last line in an editorial..”

O’Rourke: “Yeah and it’s about what you did or didn’t do when the Commission was sitting…”

McGuinness: “No, the last line in the editorial…”

O’Rourke: “…give O’Higgins vital information..”

McGuinness: “That last line in the editorial, which you speak about, suggests that I let down the whistleblowers, I would ask the whistleblowers…”

O’Rourke: “By keeping the secret to yourself for so long?”

McGuinness: “No, they would speak for themselves and, in fact, by dealing with the matter in the way that I did, I have supported the whistleblowers and I have up until now…”

O’Rourke: “Up to a point, up until the Commission was sitting…”

McGuinness: “When Maurice McCabe’s character and credibility is now even being questioned, is now even being questioned, you have to ask yourself, forget all the noise about who did what and when, what’s happening now in relation to the whistleblowers, it’s the same thing, over and over again, they’re having to defend themselves for a second and third time. What about the death of Shane O’Farrell and what happened in all of that, that was reported. How did the Chief Superintendent exonerate everyone in 2011? When in fact the O’Higgins report says that it’s quite the opposite. This whole debate is a nonsense and the use of unnamed sources is just another attempt to undermine not just me but others that are involved in this. And it would be far better for them if they put their names to their statements and they stood over what they are saying, similar to what I did. And I believe in Maurice McCabe and I still do. And people who are within the force, who have an issue with Maurice McCabe, who have an issue with dealing with the truth, should come forward and deal with the culture that is allowing this to happen. Many people may resign but that culture needs to be broken and people within the force need to be supported…”

O’Rourke: “Are you saying in that, though, are you not overlooking not just the new  Commissioner, the present Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s statement and her assurances but also the very hard-hitting approach taken  by the new Policing Authority. They have clearly called sernior Garda management from the commissioner down to account for the changes that are needed.”

McGuinness: “But isn’t that a wonderful fresh voice that’s in there in the Policing Authority in terms of Josephine Feehily. Isn’t it wonderful that she was able to come out and stand up and question what was happening and doesn’t that vindicate all of the actions that were taken by the Public Accounts Committee, by me, and by many other people who were highlighting this to their detriment and yet they came forward and they battled to the very end. And now they have someone in the Policing Authority that is willing to take on the force, is willing to take on the establishment and bring about the cultural change that is absolutely necessary in this so that cases, such as Shane O’Farrell, and others, can be investigated and the truth be told at last.”

Listen back in full here

Saturday: Disgusting

Previously: ‘We Are Part Of A Cover-Up’


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11 thoughts on “Better Late Than Never

  1. Paddy

    Who is pushing the agenda in RTE. That needs to be answered. When the report (leaked report) was top of the agenda the day RTE ‘broke’ it, there was a severe anti-McCabe spin. That morning, two RTE ‘reporters’ were ‘discussing’ it, and listed off 11+ chosen items of findings, followed each time by a ‘and what did it state about McCabe’ discussion, totally vilifying Maurice McCabe. McGuinness should have thrown that back at O’Rourke.
    That RTE discussion took place when they had the report, and no one else had it to put forward the actual truth. Captive audience for anti McCabe spin.
    Will Paul Reynolds be questioned on who gave him that copy of the Higgins report? Need to be.

  2. phil

    There are no Journalists better placed to survive an attack from the establishment than RTE employees, I cant think of one that have even attempted to take advantage of this fact. One of the big reasons public servants pay and conditions are protected so strongly is to give them the freedom to occasionally go against the narrative …

  3. Frilly Keane

    Anyone who thinks Big Trap McGuiness kept this ta’ himself for any reason other than needing a bitta’ ve handy Garda. Insurance for him and his is a moron

    1. Anne

      “other than needing a bitta’ ve handy Garda. ”

      Can anyone translate that for me, thanks.

      1. The Key of G

        Oh and do please come on now and instruct me to butt out of “your” conversations on an online forum. Troll.

  4. Truth in the News

    The issue here is the attempt by Callanan to smear McCable and any allegations
    he would make about wrong doing within the force, the line of questing by RTE
    only reveals their protection of the establishment, in the interview O’Rourke mentioned an editorial in the Independent critising John McGuiness, the same
    outfit has’nt written many lofty editorials on the cancellation of penalty points
    or what they done to Gemma O’Doherty when she exposed the scandal initally.

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