Clockwise from top left: Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine; Paul Reynolds, of RTÉ, journalist Colm Kenny; John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent, Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun, Alison O’Reilly, of the Irish Daily Mail, and Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday
This morning, from 10am.
Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan will resume giving evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle.
Ms O’Sullivan gave evidence yesterday and previously gave evidence earlier this year in respect of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.
The tribunal is examining allegations made by the former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor that, at some point in the middle of 2013, he was instructed by Ms O’Sullivan’s predecessor Martin Callinan to negatively brief journalists about Sgt Maurice McCabe.
At that time, Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson were raising concerns about An Garda Síochána, including the quashing of penalty points.
In December 2012, People Before Profit TD Joan Collins named Irish Independent journalist Paul Williams as having had points quashed while, in April 2013, Gemma O’Doherty, in the Irish Independent, reported that points pertaining to the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan had been quashed.
[The tribunal has heard Sgt McCabe wasn’t the source of Ms O’Doherty’s story].
Supt Taylor alleges that, following this alleged instruction from Mr Callinan, he was to convey to journalists that Sgt McCabe was driven by maliciousness and motivated by revenge due to an allegation of sexual assault made against him in 2006.
This was the allegation made by a Ms D – the daughter of a former Garda colleague of Sgt McCabe who was sanctioned after Sgt McCabe made a complaint on foot of the colleague attending the scene of a suicide after drinking alcohol.
In April 2007, the DPP found Ms D’s allegation had no foundation.
Supt Taylor alleges that he was instructed to tell journalists about this allegation and to tell them that the DPP ruled against a prosecution, but that he was to convey that it was the “root cause” of Sgt McCabe’s complaints about malpractice within An Garda Siochana.
Supt Taylor also alleges that he was also to convey to journalists that Sgt McCabe didn’t cooperate with an internal Garda investigation called Operation Squeeze into the quashing of penalty points led by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony – which began in October 2012 and reported in May 2013.
In a protected disclosure submitted in September 2016, Supt Taylor alleges that Ms O’Sullivan was aware of these instructions from Mr Callinan.
He also alleges that the director of communications at An Garda Síochána Andrew McLindon was also aware.
Mr Callinan, Ms O’Sullivan and Mr McLindon categorically deny all the allegations.
The tribunal has heard it’s the position of An Garda Siochana that Supt Taylor told Mr Callinan that he was going to “bring down” Ms O’Sullivan – after he was moved out of the Garda Press Office and moved into Traffic in June 2014 – and that he made up the claim about Mr Callinan to give credence to the allegation.
It’s alleged Supt Taylor made this threat known to Mr Callinan after Supt Taylor had been arrested and suspended from duty in May 2015 – over allegations of leaking information to journalists while he was no longer in the Garda Press Office.
[The tribunal has heard that after an investigation which involved six interviews comprising of 18 hours of questioning – in which Supt Taylor continuously replied “no comment” – the DPP decided not to prosecute Supt Taylor on February 13, 2017, just days after Labour leader Brendan Howlin made claims about Ms O’Sullivan in the Dáil. But last week Supt Taylor conceded to the tribunal that he did make all of the communications he was accused of making to the journalists. The tribunal has heard Supt Taylor had around 11,000 communications with journalists between September 2014 and December 2014, after having been transferred out of the press office in June 2014. A comprehensive post on Supt Taylor’s evidence, Chief Supt Francis Clerkin’s investigation into Supt Taylor, Supt Taylor’s judicial review application to the High Court will follow]
Mr Callinan’s evidence is that he never told Ms O’Sullivan of this alleged threat made by Supt Taylor, while Supt Taylor denies making it.
In any event.
Separate to Supt Taylor’s allegations, Mr Callinan has been accused by five people – Fianna Fáil TD and then chairman of the Public Accounts Committee John McGuinness, Fine Gael TD and then a member of PAC John Deasy, the Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy, RTE journalist Philip Boucher Hayes and solicitor Gerald Kean – that he negatively briefed them about Sgt McCabe during one-to-one conversations in December 2013/January 2014.
The allegations range from Mr Callinan saying Sgt McCabe was a troublemaker to he couldn’t be trusted to he had psychiatric problems to he was a person who “fiddles with kids”.
Mr McGuinness gave evidence to say that he was led to believe that a child sex assault investigation into Sgt McCabe was ongoing, while Mr McCarthy said he was told there were sexual offences (plural) against Sgt McCabe.
All of these briefings were to have taken placed in or around the Public Accounts Committee meeting on January 23, 2014, in which Mr Callinan, who was sitting next to Ms O’Sullivan, made his infamous “disgusting” remark.
Mr Callinan categorically denies the accounts of each of these five individuals.
The tribunal has heard that notes taken by various people present at several meetings held in Garda HQ in preparation of that PAC meeting show that Sgt McCabe, the Ms D allegation and “motivation” were discussed.
Yesterday, Ms O’Sullivan said she has no recollection of these matters being discussed in her presence, while Mr Callinan conceded that the notes suggest they were discussed but he can’t recall the matters being discussed either.
This is important, particularly in relation to Ms O’Sullivan, given she received a false rape referral against Sgt McCabe in May 2014 – which she also can’t recall reading – while Sgt McCabe and motivation was something that reared its head again a year later at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation which ran from May 2015 until December 2015.
Sgt McCabe was only informed of this false rape referral in January 2016.
But going back to Supt Taylor’s protected disclosure…
In his protected disclosure, Supt Taylor only named one journalist – Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent – in respect of the Ms D allegation. However, he did also state he spoke to “various journalists”.
He also referred to RTE’s Paul Reynolds in respect of separate briefings on the day Mr Callinan stood down from his role as commissioner in March 2014.
The tribunal has already heard that three journalists called to the D family home in early 2014 – Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday; Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun; and Mr Williams.
However, only Mr Williams wrote articles about Ms D in 2014.
In his protected disclosure, Supt Taylor alleged that he got a phone call from Mr Williams in which Mr Williams told him he was in Ms D’s house and he was going to interview her.
But, in his protected disclosure, Supt Taylor also said: “No article was ever published”.
However four articles written by Mr Williams were published about Ms D in the Irish Independent in April/May 2014. Supt Taylor said he never saw these articles.
Supt Taylor has told the tribunal that the purpose of Mr Williams’s phone call was for information purposes and that he passed on what Mr Williams told him to both Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan.
Mr Williams, Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan categorically reject this.
The tribunal yesterday saw that Ms O’Sullivan – who would have been Garda Commissioner at this point – texted Paul Williams at 7.11pm on April 12, 2014, the day Mr Williams’ first Ms D article was published in the Irish Independent. When asked if this text was about his Ms D article, Ms O’Sullivan said no.
Ms O’Sullivan also told the tribunal that she couldn’t recall talking to anybody about the article at that time.
The tribunal heard evidence from the D family and Mr Williams last summer in which they said Mr Williams came to the D family home on Saturday, March 8, 2014 and interviewed Ms D.
It followed a separate visit by Mr Williams a few days beforehand in which he just met Ms D’s parents, Mr and Mrs D.
On that Saturday, in which he interviewed Ms D, the tribunal heard, Mr Williams – with the help of videographer Caoimhe Gaskin – also videoed part of his interview with Ms D.
The tribunal hasn’t seen this video interview.
[More can be read about this here, while Mr Williams is scheduled to return to give further evidence next week]
After making his protected disclosure – in September 2016 – Supt Taylor gave the names of nine male journalists, whom he claims he negatively briefed about Sgt McCabe, to the tribunal.
They were Mr Williams; Paul Reynolds, of RTE; John Mooney, of The Sunday Times; Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star; Juno McEnroe, of the Irish Examiner; Cormac O’Keeffe, of the Irish Examiner; Daniel McConnell, of the Irish Examiner; Conor Lally, of The Irish Times and John Burke, of RTE.
Later still, after the D family gave evidence on Monday, July 17, 2017 – in relation to the Tusla module which looked at how the false rape referral came into existence and when Ms D, Mr D and Mrs D told the tribunal that Ms McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday and Ms Murray, of the Irish Sun, visited the house separately in February of 2014 – the tribunal’s investigators went back to Supt Taylor and he then added these two journalists to his list.
Supt Taylor, when giving evidence, told the tribunal it was always his intention to add their names to the list.
The tribunal has seen phone billing records which show he was in contact with both Ms McCann and Ms Murray at that time.
[The tribunal has heard Supt Taylor and Ms Murray had more than 2,800 communications between September 2014 and December 2014 – when Supt Taylor wasn’t working in the Garda Press Office – a figure which Judge Peter Charleton summed up as being around 25 communications per day during that period]
It was put to Supt Taylor that, given his allegation of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe in relation to Ms D, and his contact with both Ms McCann and Ms Murray, it was difficult to see how he could forget the two journalists who actually called to the Ms D house before Mr Williams.
Supt Taylor said:
“Yeah. But as I always said, I would complete that list at the first opportunity.”
Mr D also told the tribunal last summer that Mr O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, tried to contact him on Facebook around that time in early 2014 but that they didn’t discuss Ms D’s case.
The tribunal has heard that none of these 11 journalists have confirmed Supt Taylor’s allegation.
Around half of them are claiming journalistic privilege while the others are saying Supt Taylor never negatively briefed them.
Those claiming privilege are Debbie McCann, Eavan Murray, Conor Lally, John Mooney, Cormac O’Keeffe, Daniel McConnell, Juno McEnroe and Michael O’Toole – though Mr O’Toole has also given a statement to the tribunal including the following:
“I am going to claim journalistic privilege. The principle of journalistic privilege is very important to me. However, I do wish to state that I categorically believe that nobody in any position of authority in An Garda Síochána smeared Maurice McCabe to me or negatively briefed me about Maurice McCabe.”
The remaining three journalists – Paul Williams, Paul Reynolds and John Burke – have told the tribunal they were never negatively briefed by Supt Taylor.
In addition, the tribunal heard Mr Burke has never met Supt Taylor.
It should be noted that several other journalists – outside this 11 – are also scheduled to give evidence to the tribunal, including Ms McCann’s Mail colleague Alison O’Reilly.
In a statement to the tribunal, Ms O’Reilly said:
“The story of the penalty points controversy continued for a few weeks or months and Debbie told me she got the name and address of the girl who was allegedly abused by Maurice McCabe from the Gardaí. I asked her where did she get her information and she said from someone high up in the Gardaí.
“She told me she was going to Cavan and she was going to get the girl to talk. I said, are you sure he was a child abuser?
“Debbie said, she was and all the Gardaí hate him. She said her father, who is John McCann, was now a senior member of the Garda Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Unit, had confirmed the story. She said on several occasions Mr. McCabe was a pedophile. Debbie said she heard from Dave Taylor that the girl was in a bad way.”
“Debbie called Mr. McCabe several names. She said he was a paedo, child abuser, dirty fucking bastard. I remember standing at the back of office with Debbie McCann and the news editor, Robert Cox, and she told us she had the details for the woman who was allegedly abused by Maurice McCabe and she was going to get her to talk.
“Robert Cox said he would check with the editor, Conor O’Donnell, and said he might arrange for a photographer to go with her. The woman could do silhouette photos, he said. I said to both of them, are you sure he is a paedophile? I pointed out that was very suspicious, but Debbie insisted…
“She told me she had heard from Dave Taylor that the woman was going to try and bring the matter to government because it was not fully investigated. Throughout all of this Debbie continued to insist the Gardaí had no case to answer in relation to the issues.”
“I cannot recall if it was the day after the interview or during the same week when Debbie went to the house of the alleged victim. She described in detail the state the woman was in. She told me I needed to be careful of Maurice McCabe because she was in no doubt he abused the woman she interviewed.
“I told her I was always on the side of the victim but I found the story hard to believe and I feared it was malicious because the Gardaí were spreading rumour. Debbie said it was not a rumour, that she had spent around an hour with the alleged victim. I felt pressurised into believing her and that her behaviour was causing a rift in our friendship.
“She told me the woman was in a terrible state. She claimed Maurice McCabe had abused when she was a young child, possibly five or six or seven years old. McCabe was a friend of the woman’s father and they fell out at some stage. They were having a party or a gathering in the woman’s house and the woman was behind a couch and Maurice McCabe went behind the couch and pushed against her using his groin.”
When Supt Taylor gave evidence, he said he knew Ms McCann was going to visit Ms D.
However, he said he didn’t know anything about Ms D’s condition at the time, so he wouldn’t have known she was “in a bad way” and he said he also didn’t know about her trying to bring the matter to Government.
In respect of Ms O’Reilly’s claim, Ms O’Sullivan told the tribunal yesterday: “I most certainly did not give Ms McCann or anyone else information about Ms D.”
Ms McCann – whom Ms O’Sullivan told the tribunal she met in mid-November 2014, when she was Deputy Commissioner, at a book launch – has also given a statement to the tribunal.
In it, she said:
“In February 2014 we had been hearing murmurings about Sergeant McCabe. As I say, it was around the February 2014 period.”
“The Gardaí were big in the news at this point. Martin Callinan had made the disgusting remark. There was also controversy surrounding Alan Shatter at that point. I decided to look into the murmurings of an allegation against Sergeant McCabe a little more closely at that point.
“I approached a number of different sources in respect to trying to firm up the allegation.”
“I approached a number of different sources in trying to firm up the allegations.”
“And I established that there had been an allegation made around the 2006/2007 mark.”
“I wasn’t sure of the date precisely. I was also aware it related to a child at that point who now in 2014 was a teenager.”
“I established it was an allegation of inappropriate touching.”
“Around the information that I received from by News Editor Robert Cox, who in turn spoke to our overall editor in Mail on Sunday, Conor O’Connell. As would be usual, I reported along my line manager Robert Cox. I run everything by him first.
“The decision was made in mid to late February 2014. The decision was made to approach the family of Ms. D and ask if they would like to comment on the allegation.”
“The next morning I travelled to Ms. D’s family home. I think from recollection it was a Friday, either 14th or 21st.”
“I think from recollection it was a Friday, either 14th or 21st February. I wasn’t sure of the exact location of the house, so when I arrived in the area I asked some neighbours for directions. On arrival at Ms. D’s house, I got out of my car and knocked on the door.
“A woman came out who I believe was Ms. D’s mother. I told her why I was there. Identified myself as journalist with the Irish mail on Sunday. She appeared to me to be a little upset. She made reference to listening to the one o’clock news, so it must have been that time of day.
“The reason I gathered she was upset was that Sergeant McCabe’s name had been mentioned on the radio. I asked her would she would like to talk a little bit more and I recall I gave her my card that would have had my mobile number and contact details on it. She was very nice and polite. I think we left it that she would think about it or words to that effect.
“She did not speak to me about the allegation. I was on my own and only spoke to Mrs. D. We said good-bye. I think I apologised if I had upset her, as if in my presence brought up these matters. I got into my car and drove to a petrol station. I rang my news editor Robert Cox. I told him what had been said. I said that Mrs. D had been upset at Sergeant McCabe’s name being mentioned on the news and I thought there may be a possibility she would talk in the future.
“He then told me to come back to Dublin at this point. This is the only member of Ms. D’s family I had contact with, the only contact I had with Ms. D’s family. Sometimes in these cases a letter is sent as a follow-up. In this case I don’t believe it was. I can find no record of such correspondence.
“Shortly after this meeting I went on maternity leave on 22nd March 2014. I returned to work in September 2014. Ms. D’s family were never contacted by me subsequently.
“There were multiple sources in relation to the allegation against Maurice McCabe made by Ms. D. There had been whisperings in a very general sense and I had been approaching people trying to firm up the information.
“Whisperings would have been in a professional capacity where I would have been hearing them. Obviously source protection is integral to being a journalist and I cannot reveal those sources. I also believe I cannot reveal the names of the persons who firmed up any information.
“I don’t believe that the waivers I have been shown relating to former Commissioner Martin Callinan and Commissioner O’Sullivan and Superintendent David Taylor release me from my obligations in respect to journalistic privilege.”
Specifically, Ms O’Reilly was asked if she has any information or evidence about an orchestrated campaign to discredit Sgt McCabe.
Ms O’Reilly told the tribunal’s investigators:
“I do not have any direct information. I was told by my former colleague in the Irish Mail on Sunday, Debbie McCann, between 2013 and 2014 that Superintendent Dave Taylor and then acting Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, told her Maurice McCabe abused a girl when she was a child. Debbie told me that the abuse was covered up because Mr McCabe was a Garda and the case was never given a Pulse number.”
The tribunal has heard that when these specific three sentences above were put to Ms McCann, and asked if it was accurate, by the tribunal’s investigators, Ms McCann said:
“I wasn’t involved in any orchestrated campaign to malign Sergeant McCabe. I have no evidence of any orchestrated campaign to malign Sergeant McCabe. The allegations that we were looking at, at the time were discussed in the office.
“I certainly did not negatively brief Alison O’Reilly. We certainly would have discussed the allegations. As journalists, we become aware of allegations all of the time. Our job is to investigate them, see if we can substantiate them and publish them if they are in the public interest.
“But until proven, they are treated only as an allegations. The allegations were discussed in a private capacity. They were never going to be aired and shared with anyone else. I worked primarily on crime with the Mail on Sunday.
“Alison would also have worked on crime. We would have discussed stories all the time together. She was a colleague and friend at that point and any discussion around stories were in that context. Just to say, it wasn’t a briefing in any description, it was a discussion among colleagues. To clarify, any discussion was into the allegation we were looking at already as described above in my statement.”
Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, noted at the tribunal last week that Ms McCann didn’t appear to be disputing the accuracy of what Ms O’Reilly said she said.
In an article written by John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, on Sunday, July 16, 2017 – a day before the D family gave evidence – Mr Mooney reported that Ms McCann denied the allegation in respect of Ms O’Sullivan to the tribunal’s investigators.
And he reported that Ms McCann’s research was prompted by Mr Willliams’ articles of April/May 2014.
But this doesn’t make sense – because the tribunal has heard Ms McCann was the first journalist to contact the D family in either late January 2014 or early February 2014.
Mr Mooney reported:
A Daily Mail journalist who was accused by a colleague of being a conduit for the garda commissioner to smear the reputation of Maurice McCabe has denied the allegation in a private interview with the Charleton tribunal.
Debbie McCann met investigators from the tribunal 10 days ago after Alison O’Reilly, her Mail colleague, made a statement implicating her in a conspiracy with Nóirín O’Sullivan, the commissioner, to ruin the garda whistleblower Sgt McCabe.
…In her interview with the tribunal, McCann said she had never received information from the garda commissioner about McCabe, or any issue related to the whistleblower.
The journalist said she once carried out research into the identity of Miss D, the woman who made an unsubstantiated allegation of abuse against McCabe in 2006, but did not publish any story. McCann declined to reveal the identity of her sources, citing professional obligations. She acknowledged knowing Dave Taylor, the former garda press officer who has claimed he was involved in the smear campaign.
McCann said the research into Miss D was prompted by stories that had appeared in the Irish Independent about an unidentified woman who had complained about the garda force’s handling of an allegation of child abuse she had made. The tribunal has established the Irish Independent stories referred to Miss D.
It should also be noted that when Sgt McCabe gave evidence to the tribunal he mentioned that former Garda John Wilson and Ms O’Reilly did visit Sgt McCabe in early 2014 – in which she told him that rumours were circulating about him.
Sgt McCabe said the visit lasted around 20 minutes and he got slightly annoyed.
“Alison O’Reilly informed me that there was a rumour going around that I sexually assaulted a girl…I says, no, I didn’t. And she — I think she, I think she told me that, me and [Sgt McCabe’s wife] Lorraine were there, I think she said well, everybody has it. And I said no, it didn’t happen. And I think that was the end of the conversation.”
As mentioned above, Supt Taylor also wrote in his protected disclosure that he was told to convey to journalists that Sgt McCabe didn’t cooperate with the John O’Mahoney investigation.
Of this direction, Supt Taylor told the tribunal:
“The only person that ever pushed back on anything I reported was in relation to the Sergeant McCabe not cooperating with the John O’Mahoney report, Mr Conor Lally [of The Irish Times] pushed back and basically said he didn’t believe it.”
On October 1, 2013, the then Minister for Justice Alan Shatter told the Dáil that Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson – without naming them – didn’t cooperate with Assistant Commissioner O’Mahoney’s investigation.
“..they didn’t cooperate with the Garda investigations that took place. Now I don’t know why that is.”
Fast forward to March 26, 2014 – the day after Mr Callinan stood down from his position as Garda Commissioner – Mr Shatter apologised for his comment of October 1, 2013.
Mr Shatter told the Dáil:
“I therefore wish to correct the record of this House that the whistleblowers “did not cooperate with the garda investigations that took place”. I acknowledge that this statement was incorrect. It was never my intention to mislead the House and I believe it is appropriate that I apologise to both and withdraw the statements made. It was never my intention to cause any upset and if any upset was caused I hope that my correcting the record of the Dail today will put this matter to rest.”
On January 23, 2014 – when Mr Callinan and Mr O’Mahoney went before the Public Accounts Committee (which was also the same day Mr McGuinness, Mr Deasy and Mr McCarthy claim Mr Callinan made derogatory comments to them about Sgt McCabe) – Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald was asking Mr O’Mahoney about his internal investigation when they had this exchange:
Mary Lou McDonald: “Am I right to state that at no stage in the course of Assistant Commissioner O’Mahoney’s investigation did he speak to or interview the whistleblowers?”
John O’Mahoney: “That is correct…First and foremost the documentation provided to the Commissioner and subsequently to me was unsigned and unattributed. I proceeded with my examination on the basis I was dealing with anonymous allegations.”
However, how anonymous was Sgt McCabe?
The tribunal has heard that, on January 9, 2013, in the middle of Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney’s investigation into penalty points – called Operation Squeeze – Asst Commissioner Derek Byrne emailed Asst Commissioner John O’Mahoney to tell him that he had received several telephone calls over the previous few days from a Bernard McCabe.
Mr Byrne identified him as the “uncle of the whistleblower”.
Mr Byrne further stated that Bernard McCabe alleged he had a lot of information about the whistleblower and wanted to meet a member of An Garda Siochana to discuss the matter.
Mr Byrne also wrote:
“I told him I was not the appropriate person to speak with as you had been appointed by the Commissioner [Martin Callinan] “to investigate issues raised by the whistleblower”.
Mr Byrne said he told Bernard McCabe that Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney would arrange contact with Mr McCabe.
The tribunal then saw an email dated January 10, 2013, from Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney to Detective Chief Superintendent Padraig Kennedy of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
In this email, Mr O’Mahoney wrote that, further to their telephone conversation, “you [Det Chief Supt Kennedy] should make contact with Mr McCabe and listen to what he has to offer. Report in course”.
The tribunal then saw Detective Chief Supt Padraig Kennedy emailed Detective Superintendent George Kyne on May 17, 2013.
The two men subsequently visited Bernard McCabe’s house and spoke to him and his son Fintan.
At the time of the visit, the tribunal heard, Det Supt Kyne was involved in a very serious murder investigation in Dundalk.
Det Supt Kyne then directed a detective garda to prepare a report on this visit.
This report document, headlined “Operation Squeeze”, detailed how Bernard and Fintan McCabe alleged that two people who had been arrested for drunk driving had got off, on account of an interference by Sgt McCabe.
Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, explained to the tribunal that the allegations were investigated and found to be “utterly bogus”.
Mr McDowell also pointed out that in 2013 a “compendium of bad news” was collated by Mr Callinan’s private secretary Supt Frank Walsh about Sgt McCabe – which was part of the documentation used to brief Mr Callinan ahead of the PAC meeting in January 2014 – while several years later, another Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn was “tasked with” meeting Bernard McCabe in December 2016 for two hours.
[Yesterday, Ms O’Sullivan, who was Garda Commissioner in December 2016, didn’t direct Asst Comm Finn to carry out that task of meeting Mr McCabe]
However, in relation to the document which was created by Supt Walsh in 2013, Mr McDowell and Mr Callinan had the following exchange last week at the tribunal:
McDowell: “And I’m putting it to you that there was an attitude of deep suspicion and a willingness to search the records for anything that could assist in damaging Sergeant McCabe.”
Callinan: “Well, certainly not from my perspective, Judge. Absolutely not.”
McDowell: “But you’ve no explanation as to why that document of all the discreditable information had been assembled in 2013?”
Callinan: “Well, I don’t know the provenance of the document. I don’t know who commissioned it, I don’t know who compiled it, I don’t know anything about it, other than reading it at face value, the same as you are here. And if you are suggesting to me that I was, somehow or other, complicit in ordering this document to be drawn together on the basis that I was attempting to do down Sergeant McCabe, nothing, but nothing, could be further from the truth.”
Meanwhile, celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean repeated the allegation that Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson didn’t cooperate with Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney’s investigation on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane Show on the following Sunday, January 26, 2014.
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…”
The tribunal has heard that Mr Kean made this claim after he was told it by Mr Callinan before going on the show.
It’s also heard that – after Sgt McCabe wrote a legal letter to Mr Kean about the comments – Mr Kean wrote to Mr Callinan for his assistance in writing a response to Sgt McCabe.
Mr Callinan hand wrote four paragraphs which were given to his private secretary Frank Walsh who, in turn, personally delivered them to Mr Kean.
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 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, 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 forgot 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.
Mr Kean has told the tribunal that Mr Callinan asked Mr Kean not to disclose to anyone that he was the solicitor’s source of information. Mr Callinan denies this.
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.
About a month later, on Monday, February 24, 2014, at around 5pm, Paul Reynolds, of RTÉ, 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”.
However, he 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, has told the tribunal that Mr Reynolds attempted to contact Sgt McCabe before he made this report.
However, it was Sgt McCabe’s evidence that he doesn’t recall Mr Reynolds trying to contact him before the report.
In any event, that evening Sgt McCabe gave a statement to Katie Hannon, of RTÉ’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 reported on Prime Time that evening on 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 has 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 RTÉ:
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 later added:
“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.”
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 doesn’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 RTÉ, 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 Síochána, 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.”
Yesterday, the tribunal saw that, on February 24, 2014, there was one text and two phone calls shared between Mr Reynolds and Ms O’Sullivan. One of the calls was 12 minutes long and it took place from 2.46pm.
When asked if this call was about Mr Reynolds’ reports referred to above, Ms O’Sullivan said it wasn’t.
Mr Reynolds’ report of February 24, 2014, doesn’t feature in Supt Taylor’s protected disclosure.
But Mr Reynolds is referred to in respect of two alleged briefings by Supt Taylor to Mr Reynolds – which don’t pertain to Sgt McCabe directly – on the day Mr Callinan stepped down from his role.
Judge Charleton did step in to ask Supt Taylor’s counsel Tara Burns SC about the relevance of these alleged contacts on the day of Mr Callinan’s resignation.
And she said:
“I will be submitting to the Tribunal is that this is evidence from Superintendent Taylor of Mr Callinan directing a contact with a journalist that’s outside the normal role and reporting structures of the Press Office.”
In his protected disclosure, Taylor said that on the day he resigned, Mr Callinan instructed him to contact Mr Reynolds twice – firstly, to inform him that he had resigned and secondly, to leak a letter to Mr Reynolds which he [Mr Callinan] had written to the Department of Justice concerning the Bandon phone tapes.
The latter matter caused considerable controversy.
However, in relation to his resignation on the morning of March 25, 2014, it’s Supt Taylor’s evidence that Mr Callinan told Supt Taylor: “Get it out to Paul straightaway” – meaning Paul Reynolds.
When Mr Callinan stepped down he was under pressure due to his “disgusting” remark about the whistleblowers in PAC in January 2014 because, just days previous, on March 20, 2014, at a Road Safety Authority conference in Dublin Castle, the then Transport Minister Leo Varadkar called on Mr Callinan to withdraw his remark.
Mr Varadkar also referred to the whistleblowers as “distinguished”.
Last week, the tribunal saw an advisory text sent to Mr Callinan on March 22, 2014 – just three days before he stood down.
It’s not known who sent the text. This is because 277 of 278 text messages had been deleted from Mr Callinan’s handset and while forensic experts were able to retrieve the deleted texts, they could not retrieve the sender and recipient information pertaining to each text.
Mr Callinan also said he had “no idea” who sent it.
But it stated:
“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 did report on Mr Callinan’s resignation – most notably on Today with Seán O’Rourke and News At One on March 25, 2014.
On Today with Seán O’Rourke, Mr Reynolds had the following exchange with Mr O’Rourke:
Seán 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]
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 had the following exchange with broadcaster Áine Lawlor:
Reynolds: “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.”
Áine 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]
But what of Mr Reynolds reporting that Mr Callinan knew he shouldn’t have used the word “disgusting”?.
When the director of communications at An Garda Síochána Andrew McLindon gave evidence to the tribunal, he said the following:
“A week afterwards it was obvious that the “disgusting” term was – there was significant negative media and political commentary in relation to it. It was, I felt, causing – undermining the Commissioner’s position and undermining the organisation. I felt that it was important for him to move off that “disgusting” term. I discussed it with Superintendent Taylor. He agreed.
“We felt it was best if we went to Commissioner Callinan personally, so we arranged to meet him on a Friday. We went and discussed it with him. He was open to the suggestion of doing something about it. So I sent him a proposal later on that day that he would do a radio interview and basically move off the “disgusting” term and basically I would hope ultimately withdraw it, but certainly move back from it and say that it was too strong a word to use.”
The tribunal then saw that Mr McLindon wrote the following proposal in an email to Mr Callinan. The subject line in the email read: “Potential PR activity re: FCPN & Positive News”
The email stated:
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 Seán 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] 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 Seán O’Rourke and his producer. In order for us to agree to this interview, Seán 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
Mr McLindon told the tribunal that eventually “[Mr Callinan] had considered it but he wasn’t prepared to change his position at this time”.
The tribunal also heard that Mr Callinan didn’t clarify the “disgusting” remark until March 12, 2014.
A separate report by Mr Reynolds does feature in the tribunal as it’s the focus of a particular term of reference wholly related to his broadcasts on RTÉ on May 9, 2016, which were about the report of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation – ahead of its actual publication on May 16, 2016.
Specifically, the term of reference is:
“To investigate whether Commissioner O’Sullivan, using briefing material prepared in Garda Headquarters, influenced or attempted to influence broadcasts on RTÉ on the 9th of May, 2016, purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins Commission Report, in which Sergeant McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible.
On that day – May 9, 2016 – Mr Reynolds, on both the News At One and the Six One news, claimed Sgt McCabe had, at one point, lied in a report to a senior officer.
Transcripts of these two radio interviews can be read here.
When Sgt McCabe gave evidence to the tribunal, he was asked about these reports by Mr Reynolds by Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal.
Marrinan: “You advised our investigators during the course of an interview…you made an assertion that you believe that Nóirín O’Sullivan was behind the RTÉ broadcast on the 9th May concerning the O’Higgins Commission report. You claim that John Barrett told you that it would have come from block 1 at the front, Nóirín O’Sullivan’s office? ”
McCabe: “Yes, that’s correct.”
Marrinan: “Is that right?”
McCabe: “That’s correct, yeah.”
Marrinan: “When did John Barrett say that to you?”
McCabe: “He told us that in our house, me and Lorraine were there when he told us. I would have the date in a diary, but it was — well, it was obviously after this, after the broadcast. But he said, it would have come from block 1. ”
Asked if he had actual evidence of this, Sgt McCabe said no.
But Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, told the tribunal that he would be making a submission on the matter and that…
“…this particular report, in the circumstances, was leaked by RTÉ in circumstances from which it can be divined that there was accompanying documentation directing Mr Reynolds to take a particular line.”
Mr McDowell added:
It’s a matter of listening carefully to the tape of the report. It appears that it was done on a question-and-answer document which was given to his interviewers on a number of occasions that day in RTÉ. We will be asking you to draw that inference at a later stage.
Yesterday, the tribunal heard that Mr Barrett is denying saying this to Sgt McCabe, while Ms O’Sullivan denied having any involvement in Mr Reynolds’ reports.
She said she never gave Mr Reynolds the report and never discussed it with him.
She also categorically stated that she never sought to influence RTÉ of anything at all and never sought to influence RTE in their coverage of the O’Higgins report.
Incidentally, yesterday the tribunal saw a text which had been forwarded to Ms O’Sullivan from Ken Ruane, Head of Legal Affairs at An Garda Síochána – after Mr Ruane received it from the director of communications at An Garda Síochána Andrew McLindon.
In it, Mr McLindon wrote to Mr Ruane:
“I have no record of any queries received by myself or by the Press Office on 8 or 9 May from Mr Paul Reynolds of RTE on the O’Higgins Report. It would be worth checking with Supt Gerry Murphy, press office at the time, to see if he received any calls or emails from Mr Reynolds on this matter. Regards Andrew.”
[It should be noted the tribunal has previously seen an email Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent, sent to Supt John Ferris, of corporate communications in the Garda Press Office, in April 2016, ahead of an appearance by Mr Williams on RTÉ’s Late Late Show the following evening. In his email to Supt Ferris Mr Williams wrote that Gerry Murphy had suggested to Mr Williams to write to Supt on that particular email address. Supt Ferris told the tribunal he would have sent on the query to the Commissioner’s office.]
But going back to Mr Reynolds’ and his report on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation…
In February of last year, John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, was interviewed by Seán O’Rourke, on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke. They discussed the matter of Mr Reynolds’ report on the O’Higgins report being the subject of a term of reference to be examined by Judge Charleton.
From that interview…
Sean O’Rourke: “…it’s going to preoccupy minds, not least in this organisation here where there’s a term of reference to investigate whether Commissioner O’Sullivan using briefing material prepared in Garda headquarters planned and orchestrated broadcasts in RTE on the 9th of May 2016, purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins report in which Sgt McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible?”
John Mooney: “Well there’s a couple of different approaches you could take to that, there was a lot of people who are witnesses in the O’Higgins Commission who were provided with draft copies and advance copies before it was published. And I can tell you in the days before that official publication of the O’Higgins report there were lots of people who had possession of that.
“I’m a little bit unsure as to why there’s a believe that Noirin O’Sullivan herself done that. Noirin O’Sullivan doesn’t generally, to the best of my knowledge, deal with journalist, she’s a very secretive sort of woman, most of her interactions with the media are adversarial, including those with RTE. So again, I can’t and I haven’t managed to find out where that specific allegation that she briefed media in relation…”
O’Rourke: “And again…”
Mooney: “It should be also stated Sean that she wasn’t necessarily affected by the allegations that were being made in the O’Higgins Commission because she wasn’t commissioner at the time.”
O’Rourke: “Well it’s a little broader than if she briefed the media, it says to investigate whether she planned and orchestrated broadcasts on RTE in other words maybe directed others to provide briefings and I have absolutely no knowledge of how that came to be on air by the way. As I say it presents dilemmas about the level of cooperation that is to be extended by this and other media outlets, I suppose.”
It should be noted Sgt McCabe took legal action after comments made by Mr Mooney on Northern Sound radio in which Mr Mooney reported on the report of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation – before Paul Reynolds reported on the same matter.
The tribunal hasn’t heard this Northern Sound report.
The tribunal heard Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin say earlier this year that, in early 2014, he said his press officer would have received queries from “some journalists” as to whether he [Mr Martin] could stand over the credibility of Sgt McCabe or if he was satisfied that Sgt McCabe was credible.
The tribunal hasn’t heard the names of these journalist/s.
Mr Martin said:
It was general. They would have been aware of the rumour, that is all, rumours and that kind of thing. But there was that air about the place that your leader should be careful, that, you know, he is dealing with somebody here who is not that reliable, that sense.
It should also be noted that, on February 11, 2017, Miriam Lord, of The Irish Times, wrote about how she attended the PAC meeting – during which Mr Callinan appeared and made his “disgusting” remark – on January 23, 2014.
In her column, she told how, after the PAC meeting, she “remarked to somebody” that she wasn’t impressed with Mr Callinan. She went on to say that she was then told Sgt McCabe was “an awful person” and that “if I only knew the half of it I wouldn’t be so quick to criticise the commissioner”.
She further wrote: “The “half of it” included insinuations about inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. This didn’t come as news – the rumours were already floating around.”
Ms Lord also said she didn’t believe the rumours or what was told to her.
Colum Kenny, writing in an opinion piece in the Sunday Business Post on June 25, 2017, wrote:
“I had my own direct experience with two other journalists. This was when I attended a relevant committee hearing at the Oireachtas. Outside the committee room, in early 2014, I encountered a pair of senior journalists who had covered aspects of the McCabe story for national media organisations.
“No doubt with the best of intentions, they proceeded to caution me that I should know that a complaint of sexual abuse against whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe had been made, that Gardaí had repeated it and that the complaint was being investigated. Given what I had by then learned about the whole scandal, I was highly sceptical.
“I was also disappointed that the two senior journalists appeared to be attaching some persuasive weight to the allegations, and appeared to be expecting me to do likewise. And I was alarmed at the possible chilling effect of their repeating these vicious rumours to less well-informed journalists. I knew that Sergeant McCabe considered neither of these journalists to be sympathetic to him.”
Today, after Ms O’Sullivan finishes giving evidence, former Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris is due to give evidence.
She is then scheduled to be followed by Irish Mirror editor John Kearns, former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty, Irish Daily Mail journalist Alison O’Reilly, and Labour leader Brendan Howlin.
Tomorrow, Justine McCarthy, of The Sunday Times, and Mick Clifford, of The Irish Examiner, are scheduled to give evidence.
Colum Kenny and RTÉ’s Philip Boucher Hayes are scheduled to give evidence on Friday.
See here for the full list of scheduled remaining witnesses.