The Disclosures Tribunal heard claims that Supt Dave Taylor (above) told Sgt Maurcie McCabe (top) that a ‘spiritual person’ had told him to confess his role smearing the whistleblower
At the Disclosures Tribunal…
Which is examining allegations of a smear campaign being orchestrated by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, with the knowledge of fellow former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, against Sgt Maurice McCabe…
Sgt Maurice McCabe told the tribunal details of information relayed to him during a meeting Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel in May 2016 and, separately, Supt Dave Taylor on September 20 2016, at Supt Taylor’s home.
While giving evidence about both of these meetings, Sgt McCabe became very upset.
Readers should note, the tribunal has heard Mr McGuinness agrees with everything Sgt McCabe has told the tribunal about their meeting, save for one minor detail.
In contrast, it’s heard Supt Taylor’s account of his meeting with Sgt McCabe differs greatly.
However, the tribunal has also heard that Supt Taylor’s own evidence to the tribunal has also changed over time with chairman Judge Peter Charleton noting:
“…there has been perhaps a somewhat, look, one could say a softening or a vagueness in relation to the three statements made by David Taylor, particularly to our investigators, in relation to Nóirín O’Sullivan and what she knew…”
In any event.
Of his meeting with Mr McGuinness – the date of which is unclear other than it was May 2016 – Sgt McCabe told the tribunal on Monday that Mr McGuinness, who was then chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), told him that he had met Martin Callinan in a car park on the Naas Road on January 24.
This would have been a day after Mr Callinan made his “disgusting” remark to PAC about Garda whistleblowers and days before Sgt McCabe was due to appear before the committee to talk about the quashing of penalty points.
Sgt McCabe told the tribunal:
“He told me that he met the former Commissioner Martin Callinan at the Red Cow Inn, or that pub, and he said that I wasn’t to be trusted and he said that I had sexually abused all my children and my nieces. He said to me, I didn’t like to tell you before — you know, up to this point.
“At times I’m glad that he actually didn’t. But I asked him what was the circumstances about it, and he said he was asked to meet him at the Red Cow and he said this is what he said. And he also said that he grabbed his arm as he was getting out of the car and said, ‘it’s very serious, it’s very serious’.
Yesterday, JohnMcGuinness’ legal representative Daren Lehane BL said his client’s evidence will be the same as Sgt McCabe – except he will say he told Sgt McCabe Mr Callinan told him that Sgt McCabe had abused “your children” and nieces, as opposed to “all” your children and nieces.
Readers should note on May 26, 2016, during a speech in the Dail about the death of Shane O’Farrell in Monaghan, Mr McGuinness mentioned this meeting with Mr Callinan in the Dail.
He told the Dáil
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 vile stories that circulated about Garda McCabe, which were promoted by senior officers in the Garda, were absolutely appalling. Because they attempted to discredit him, he had to bring forward various pieces of strong evidence to protect his integrity.
It’s not known if Mr McGuinness’s public utterance of these “vile stories” were noted in Tusla but some months before meeting Mr McGuinness, Sgt McCabe was wrongly informed by Tusla – via a letter described as “ghastly” by the tribunal’s chairman Judge Peter Charleton and dated December 29, 2015 – that it was investigating him for the alleged rape of a child.
[This false allegation of rape against Sgt McCabe was on file in the Garda Commissioner’s office from May 2014 up until when the Disclosures Tribunal started last year]
The Tusla letter detailed the botched version of the original 2006 Ms D allegation – which the DPP concluded had no foundation – yet erroneously referred to allegations seven times in the letter.
It came not long after the O’Higgins Commission had finished.
Readers may also wish to note that Sean Costello SC, for Sgt McCabe, wrote back to Tusla in January 2016 to say the allegation was wholly untrue but Tusla declined to respond until June 2016 and in its response didn’t explain how the error occurred in the first place.
In respect of Sgt McCabe’s meeting with Supt Dave Taylor in September 2016, Supt Taylor – who was mentioned previously in the tribunal in respect of articles about Ms D written by Paul Williams in the Irish Independent in April 2014 – was not working at the time.
He was suspended from duty in April 2015 and arrested on May 28, 2015, in relation to an investigation headed up by Noirin O’Sullivan’s husband Jim McGowan into the leaking of the identity of two Roma children to the press.
It’s understood that, at the time of his suspension in April 2015, his phones and laptop were confiscated.
It’s also understood that he was the most senior garda ever to be arrested in a criminal investigation.
Sgt McCabe told the tribunal that his meeting came about after a conversation with Mick Clifford of The Irish Examiner. Sgt McCabe said:
“I was out in the garden and I got a phone call off Mick Clifford again in the Irish Examiner, and he said he had been speaking to Dave Taylor, I’m not sure if it was on the phone or at his house, but he said to me he is not suspended in relation to the Roma children, he’s suspended what he knows about you.
“And I said, what? He says, on what he knows about you. I said, well, I said, tell me what. No, that’s all, he says.”
Sgt McCabe proceeded to tell the tribunal that he met Supt Taylor, on September 20 – at Supt Taylor’s home – after first meeting with his wife Michelle whom Sgt McCabe told he had been speaking to Mr Clifford.
Sgt McCabe said Supt Taylor appeared stressed, that he had recently been to a spiritual person and that he felt he needed to confess to Sgt McCabe that he “destroyed” him.
From Sgt McCabe’s evidence:
“He says, I destroyed you. And I said, what do you mean? And he kept saying, I destroyed you.
“..he said that he orchestrated, he said that there was an orchestrated campaign to attack me and he said it was in the form of whispering, of phone calls, of texts, of text messages.
“He said he was ordered to do this on the authority of ex-Commissioner Martin Callinan. He told me that — he said to me, I never wrote the text messages, he says, all the text — Martin Callinan, he says, always wrote the text messages, and he says, I was asked just to send them on.
“And then he told me then that he would always send one to ex-Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, and that she would always reply, I think the word “perfect”.
“I think it took him half an hour to say that bit, but he got upset then, in relation to what he was telling me, and when he was upset in relation to — Michelle told me, the wife told me that he was with a spiritual person and he had to confess all that he was saying to me, Mr Chairman.
“He then started to explain to me a few things, that An Garda Síochána were obsessed with me. It was bordering on — I’m just not sure what word he used, but he said it was bordering on — whatever, he said it was constant obsession.
“When I’d be on the radio, or if there was an article which had praised me, he would always ring Martin Callinan to tell him that there was an article here that was praising him, and then he was telling me so it was Martin Callinan would always say back to him, well, you know, do him down, you know, use your phone and do him down, he has to be buried.
“I asked him if I could take a brief note of what he was saying to me, and he said I could. I got the pen and paper off him. And he then explained that he was the press secretary, that everything was going through him.
“He said Martin Callinan was the main person. He said Martin Callinan would encourage Dave Taylor to spread the rumours about me, the fact that I had been investigated for a sexual assault, and he was told to down me all the time.
“He said that — I didn’t ask him in relation to the journalists’ name because I didn’t want to know who they were, but he did say to me that he would ring them up, and if there was good story about me in the paper, he would always put it bad.
“He also said that in relation to — Commissioner Callinan’s version was to always run me down, bring up the alleged assault and always run me down.
“…he told me that there was a file in Garda Headquarters on me and he told me it was in the name of Oisín…He was a grandson of a senior officer. And that this was on intelligence file.
“He then told me that there was a person by the name of whoever, that he was monitoring me on Pulse in Garda Headquarters. I wasn’t interested in a lot of stuff, except I did ask him who is spreading these rumours about me? And he said he was, but he was ordered to do it.
“He said that it would be sent by a phone call or by a text message… he said that he had sent hundreds of text messages...”
“He said that he had sent them to other senior gardaí, he said that he had sent them to journalists.
“It was just in relation to this allegation that was made against me back in ’06
“He would send it on to other senior gardaí, he would send it on to ex-Commissioner O’Sullivan, he said, and he’d send it on to journalists, and he’d send it on, I think it was a number of TDs he mentioned, didn’t say who they were. I didn’t want to know who anyone was.
“He said he sent, the words he used was hundreds of text messages. Then he went on about he met a spiritualist and he was with the spiritualist a number of times and he confessed to the spiritualist that he had done this.
“I was furious at him, furious. And I was furious with him because all he to do was say no, all he had to do was to say to Martin Callinan, look at, I sent a text message, and not send it, you know. He could have stopped.
“..He said that she [Noirin O’Sullivan] was the pusher, that’s what he called her.
“…All he said was, you know, she was the pusher and she knew everything, everything that was going on.”
Sgt McCabe also said that Supt Taylor referred to the day Mr Callinan met with Mr McGuinness in the car park in January.
Sgt McCabe says Supt Taylor said he had to rearrange a press event because of the meeting. Sgt McCabe said:
“…it was an important event and he said that he left the event to say that he was going to meet John McGuinness. Sorry, it was ex-Commissioner Callinan, he was going to leave the event and speak to John McGuinness.
“He said he put back, Dave Taylor — sorry, Superintendent Taylor said he put back the press conference, he put back the press conference for an hour-and-a-half until ex-Commissioner Callinan came back. He said he arrived back. Then I asked him, was that in relation to me? He said it was. I said, was it in relation to me and my children? He said, it was. It’s difficult and it’s hard to accept.”
Sgt McCabe said, during the conversation, Supt Taylor broke down twice.
Sgt McCabe said:
“Look at, I mean, I said, I told him I forgive him, I suppose I wanted to get more information out of him, but then there came a stage that I had enough information out of him, I didn’t want to hear any more. He said that — he said that they used to hate to see me, him and his wife used to hate to see me on the television, hate to hear my name, hate to read articles about me, and Michelle Taylor then said to me, she says, but, she says, we believed all the allegations that we heard about you.”
In the note that the took, the tribunal saw he had wrote: “So gmail stuff about me“.
Asked to explain this, Sgt McCabe said:
“He said that, I think that — I’m fairly sure that was in relation to ex-Commissioner O’Sullivan had a gmail account and I might be on it.”
Tara Burns BL, for Supt Taylor, said Supt Taylor was denying much of what Sgt McCabe had claimed Supt Taylor told him.
She told the tribunal that it’s Supt Taylor’s position that when he referred to “pusher” he was telling Sgt McCabe that Ms O’Sullivan was actively pursuing a prosecution against him [Supt Taylor].
Sgt McCabe told Ms Burns: “No, that is absolutely false.”
Ms Burns also said the following to Sgt McCabe in respect of what he said Supt Taylor said about text messages.
Ms Burns said:
“…there is no reference there, and within the [Taylor’s] protected disclosure, or indeed within any of the interviews that have been held with Superintendent Taylor, that the content of that huge number of interactions taking place by way of text messages were all relating to the scurrilous rumours being spread regarding you and the 2006 sexual assault allegation..“
Sgt McCabe disagreed.
Ms Burns added that the following were her instructions:
“He does not accept that he said that what was being texted about on those occasions was in relation to the scurrilous rumours regarding the 2006 allegation. He says that his contact with senior management and indeed with Martin Callinan and Nóirín O’Sullivan in terms of text messages related to informing persons regarding any development or media broadcast that occurred regarding you.
“So while, yes, there would have been substantial text messages sent, the text messages didn’t relate to the rumours regarding you and the sexual assault allegation in 2006.”
But Sgt McCabe completely disagreed and even said:
“I went back to him on the next morning specifically to ask him in relation to hundreds of text messages because I wanted to get this right and he did say to me it could have been thousands.”
Sgt McCabe explained he didn’t include the “thousands” in his protected disclosure as he wanted to be utterly accurate in his protected disclosure.
Ms Burns repeated:
“Superintendent Taylor denies that he said to you that Martin Callinan had created these texts and sent them on to him. And he also denies that he said that his contact in terms of hundreds of text messages with senior management, with journalists and with TDs, was in relation to the specific malicious rumours regarding the sexual assault in 2006.”
Sgt McCabe said he stood over his protected disclosure to the tribunal and his evidence about what Supt Taylor told him.
He told Ms Burns:
“He 100 percent said to me Martin Callinan compiled all the text messages, he said, he didn’t just say some, he said all, and he says I got them and I sent them on.”
“…in fairness, how do you make up such a story? He told me that.
“I am sorry, but that is the truth.
“I was very accurate in relation to my protected disclosure. I didn’t want to put in one word which was wrong. And I stand by it.
“..it’s his word against mine at this stage.”
Readers may wish to note that there are two people who have recounted similar events as laid out by Sgt McCabe – Clare Daly TD and Mick Clifford of The Irish Examiner.
Yesterday, the tribunal heard that on October 5, 2016, Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly gave a radio interview about the two protected disclosures made by Sgt McCabe and Supt Taylor – though they weren’t named – in September 2016.
In her radio interview, Ms Daly indicated that she had met the two gardai.
Sgt McCabe told the tribunal that he met her for a coffee probably a week after he made his disclosure but he “never” met her with Supt Taylor.
Ms Daly said:
“Now we would be aware for a long time now that some people have come forward and made protected disclosures, have been the victims of bullying and harassment and that type of thing. But I suppose what makes this more shocking is we’ve seen a lot of what we have been saying and a lot of what they have been experiencing absolutely vindicated in the most shocking terms by one senior officer, who has admitted that he played a part in that and in essence what’s being said is that there was a deliberate and organised campaign to in essence annihilate a whistleblower…
“The word came out from the top that this person had to crushed, he had to be discredited. Inaccurate personal information was given out about him in the most horrific way. Text messages sent to the Gardaí. People in the media told, oh, you don’t want to be talking to him now, you know all about him, hint, hint. With some more graphic detail with it.
“Politicians, who I think need to come clean on this, got the messages about this as well. And basically what it was, was an attempt to isolate and crush this man because he had the audacity to speak out against the hierarchy and I suppose the most serious part of all that is the claim that this was done utterly with the knowledge of the former and present Commissioner.”
Asked if he gave that information to Ms Daly, Sgt McCabe said: “No, I certainly didn’t bring her all that information whatsoever. If I had a coffee with her it was general about myself, but I certainly didn’t bring that, no.”
Asked if he gave her a copy of his protected disclosure, Sgt McCabe said: “Never. Never.”
In A Force For Justice: The Maurice McCabe Story, by Michael Clifford, of The Irish Examiner, Mr Clifford wrote about Sgt Maurice McCabe’s meeting with Supt Dave Taylor on September 20, 2016.
In chapter 23, Mr Clifford wrote:
‘We wanted to destroy you, ‘ Taylor told him Over the course of four and a half hours, as the sun went down and the night drew and the night drew in, David Taylor unburdened himself to Maurice McCabe in the Taylors’ front room.
He went into detail of how he had been involved in a campaign of black propaganda against McCabe in his role as head of the Garda Press Office. The objective was to destroy McCabe’s credibility by any means available, and in particular to spread false and scurrilous rumours about his character.
It should be noted that the senior officers whom Taylor claimed were either privy to or directing such an operation deny any knowledge whatsoever of its existence. Yet Taylor is adamant that he is speaking the truth.
There were a number of strands to the campaign, he told the incredulous McCabe. The most basic was the conveyance of hundreds if not thousands of text messages to media and Garda personnel casting McCabe in a bad light.
Journalists were briefed that McCabe was a person against whom an allegation of sexual abuse had been made.
‘I did always clarify to the journalists that a file had gone to the DPP and that there was no prosecution,’ Taylor later revealed in a statement.
‘However, this was the narrative. It was put in such a way that there was no smoke without fire.’
Taylor was prepared to believe anything that was passed to him in relation to McCabe. He didn’t question its origins or veracity.
Many within his circle believed the worst of this Cavan-based guard who would not leave them alone.
He told McCabe that an intelligence file had been created on him in Garda HQ. The file was kept under a Christian name, which correlated with the name of the offspring of a senior officer.
An intelligence file is created only if the subject is suspected of a serious crime, usually involving violence. Yet HQ, according to Taylor, saw fit to place McCabe in such company.
Twice, as he poured out his confession, Taylor broke down. He was in a highly emotional state confronting his past. When he was doing his job, following orders as he saw it, McCabe was simply regarded as the enemy.
McCabe’s head was spinning. He knew that management had been discommoded by his complains, knew that he’d had to battle along the way, but this was off the scale. At one point he told Taylor that there was a lot of information coming at him, and he’d like to take notes if that was okay. Taylor said had [sic] had no problem with that.
…The following day McCabe rang Taylor and arranged to meet him again. There were a couple of things he wanted to clarify.
They met at Taylor’s home the day after that. McCabe asked him again about some of the details relating to the text messages.
Then he informed Taylor that he was obliged to make a protected disclosure on the matter: ‘You’ve told me this stuff and if I don’t pass it on, I could be accused of being complicit,’ he told Taylor.
Taylor shrugged. He hadn’t objected to the note-taking at their first meeting. He knew that once he had agreed to meet with McCabe, nothing would be held back.
He knew that though McCabe’s travails, the sergeant had managed to keep his head about water by ensuring that he always acted according to the law.
Having accepted that McCabe was going to make a protected disclosure, Taylor then concluded that he also would make one in order to protect himself.
Over the following days, both men separately put together disclosures. Taylor’s was largely based on what he knew, McCabe’s on what Taylor had told him.
McCabe also included what he believed had transpired at the O’Higgins Commission which, in his opinion, amounted to another example of elements in the force setting out to destroy him.
The two disclosures were handed in to the Department of Justice on 29 September 2016.
Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan have both denied having any involvement in a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.
Tomorrow, the tribunal will hear submissions based on the module that was just completed and will resume on Monday, March 20.
Transcripts from Monday and Tuesday’s hearings at the Disclosures Tribunal can be read here