Justice Charleton On…

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John McGuinness, Fianna Fáil TD

“..There was a marked sense in the demeanour of John McGuinness TD of someone who was engaging in genuine recall. People, generally, do not necessarily come up with an utterly accurate account of important conversations.

…Nothing in the evidence, the documents before the tribunal, or the background of both parties, indicates even a hint of any animus by John McGuinness TD towards Commissioner Martin Callinan.

While it was presented as inconceivable that the Garda Commissioner would speak in this way about a serving officer, it is difficult to imagine why Deputy McGuinness would be so malicious as to pervert the details of their conversation from the expression of legitimate concern into a series of threats and in-the-know warnings.

…The conversations as described by John McGuinness TD took place.”

RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher Hayes

“As to the various accounts of this encounter in Montrose on 17 December 2013, the tribunal finds as a fact that Philip Boucher-Hayes is telling the truth and that Commissioner Martin Callinan and Superintendent David Taylor are not.

Philip Boucher-Hayes came forward unasked and early in answer to the tribunal’s plea for assistance in February 2017.

That’s not necessarily or at all a mark of truthfulness and the tribunal does not regard it as such in relation to anyone’s evidence. Everything about his evidence suggests that he did so out of a sense of public duty and his demeanour in the witness box demonstrates the continuation of his public spirit.

Certainly, he had a disagreement with Commissioner Callinan and his team as to what ought to be discussed in his interview on the television.

Philip Boucher-Hayes struck the tribunal as a big enough character, and as a person used to the sometimes bruising experience of day-to-day broadcasting, to get over that.

His attitude to a request from Commissioner Callinan for a conversation “off the record” was one of “wait and see”. He was not prepared to be used.

It happened that Commissioner Martin Callinan said to Philip Boucher-Hayes: ‘If there’s anything else you want to know about this or any of the other stuff we’ve been talking about, you can talk to David Taylor over there’.”

 

John Deasy, Fine Gael TD

“The tribunal considers that the evidence of John Deasy TD is correct. In terms of the consideration of any supposed collusion between these three witnesses, a suggestion not made on behalf of Commissioner Callinan, but one that nonetheless needs to be seriously considered by any tribunal in the face of very similar evidence being given by three witnesses, there is no hint of this.

John Deasy TD, if in any sense tailoring his evidence to meld with that of John McGuinness TD and Séamus McCarthy, leaves out any suggestion of a direct allegation of sexual abuse against Maurice McCabe made by Commissioner Callinan.

The evidence of John Deasy TD gave no hint of being motivated by sensationalism or by attention-seeking. Instead, the tribunal is of the view that his evidence was given out of a sense of duty.”

 

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy

“The tribunal accepts the evidence of Séamus McCarthy. He showed real public spiritedness in coming forward. As a constitutional officer, he has nothing to gain and nothing to lose. His evidence was coherent and convincing.

Everything about how he gave his evidence indicated a sense of duty. There is not the slightest hint of any ill-motivation. While the cross-examination on behalf of Commissioner Martin Callinan was skilled, the truthfulness of Séamus McCarthy as a witness remained untouched.

The tribunal concludes that the conversation with Commissioner Martin Callinan as described by Séamus McCarthy is accurate.”

Alison O’Reilly, irish Mail on Sunday

Alison O’Reilly was actively discouraged by her employer newspaper company from giving evidence to the tribunal.

Her testimony was that she had been told, in colourful language, that anyone who went to a tribunal with information out of a sense of duty might end up at the receiving end of criticism themselves: “You know, nobody comes out of a Tribunal looking okay, even if they’re trying to be the good guy.”

While this could be seen as mere chat, the reality is that Alison O’ Reilly felt far from encouraged. This was not an appropriate way to deal with an employee who wished to cooperate with a public enquiry.

In fact, it is appalling. Worse was to follow.

She wrote to the tribunal on 7 June 2017, in response to the plea for public assistance made on 27 February 2017 and because Brendan Howlin TD had made a statement to the Dáil on 8 February 2017, and had helpfully provided a statement to the tribunal on 15 March 2017. Alison O’Reilly’s employers had been asked specifically for any information they had in March 2017.

Journalistic privilege was claimed in a letter of 13 March 2017, and further correspondence followed, with Debbie McCann and Alison O’Reilly being interviewed by the tribunal’s investigators. On 13 April 2018, it was claimed in a letter that Alison O’Reilly was an embittered person.

As between her and Debbie McCann, they attacked her testimony, without any basis other than that Debbie McCann had had no story about Ms D to pitch to her editors. The tribunal accepts the evidence of Alison O’Reilly.

The tribunal is of the view that while a great deal of the conversation that went between these two journalists can be seen as braggadocio, or simply loose talk, the core of this is factually correct. Someone had strongly biased the mind of Debbie McCann against Maurice McCabe.

That person, the tribunal is convinced, was neither her father, retired Detective Superintendent John McCann, who was a responsible and hard-working officer, nor Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, who had hardly ever met her and had not the slightest reason to interact with her, save in a social context, but the press officer for An Garda Síochána, with whom she was in regular contact, namely Superintendent David Taylor

The account given by Debbie McCann to Alison O’Reilly as to Ms D being in a bad way and sitting on a couch and hugging herself certainly did not come from Paul Williams.

In addition, Debbie McCann had details which appeared in the garda file sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. There is the reference to them being at “a party or gathering” and there is a description of the alleged encounter.

She told the tribunal that it was “an allegation of inappropriate touching”, and she said that she may have known at the time that “there may have been tickling involved”. That last, evocative, word appears in the garda file.

These are details that she admits to knowing, but she claims to have obtained this information about the tickling from what she describes as a source..

This was a case of Debbie McCann making a mistake and being sucked into the orbit of Superintendent David Taylor and listening to the kind of detail which the tribunal is satisfied he had at his disposal and which he was content to deploy, to a major extent with the detail provided by him to Debbie McCann, and to a lesser extent by way of supplying details which were easily at his disposal to both her and to Eavan Murray.

They were taken in by him.”

More to follow.

Earlier: Shamefully Treated