From top: Justioce Peter Charelton: Clare Daly in the Dáil last night
In the Dáil.
Independents 4 Change TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace – who have championed Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe’s cause for years – spoke about Judge Peter Charleton’s report into the Disclosures Tribunal.
Judge Charleton found former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and former Garda Press Officer worked “cheek by jowl” in a “campaign of calumny” against Sgt McCabe.
He couldn’t determine how a document outlining a false rape allegation against Sgt McCabe – which was never made – was circulated from TUSLA to gardai in May 2014.
And he found it “inappropriate and extraordinary” that former Chief Supt Jim Sheridan forwarded the false rape referral to Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny in the knowledge it was false.
Judge Charleton also found it “disturbing” that Mr Kenny then forwarded it to Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and, after he was definitively told it was incorrect, never corrected the matter – with the false rape referral remaining in Garda HQ until February 2017.
Judge Charleton heavily criticised members of An Garda Síochána and the “incompetence” of TUSLA but he did not find they colluded with each other against Sgt McCabe.
Giving her statement on the matter to the Dáil last night, Ms Daly said:
“I do not have enough time to do justice to Mr Justice Charleton and his team, who have done a great public service. I had the good fortune to attend the tribunal on several occasions. I was struck by Mr. Justice Charleton’s patience, sharp intellect and wit.
Some people have said he has indulged himself a little in this report. He was perfectly entitled to do so given some of the nonsense he had to sit through and listen to.
“The Charleton report is a searing indictment of several State institutions, in particular, An Garda Síochána and Tusla, and the media. Mr Justice Charleton castigated a number of journalists for frustrating the work of the tribunal and the public will.
He castigated the public relations companies, which he has characterised, correctly as far as I am concerned, as a hideous development in Irish public life given the domination of spin.
“In some ways, we could say Mr Justice Charleton has probably been a little polite in his language regarding some of the individuals who appeared before him. The implications are clear, however.
Many of those who gave evidence at the tribunal need what Mr Justice Charleton referred to as a cultural shift that requires respect for the truth. In other words, he was told a whopping amount of lies.
“The Disclosures Tribunal was established publicly to find the truth and Mr Justice Charleton has laid bare a vast amount. This report is a real education for the people in that regard.
First and most important is the total vindication Mr Justice Charleton has given to Maurice McCabe. This cannot be understated.
“Sergeant McCabe is a fine policeman and a man of integrity who was repulsively denigrated. The best thing about how Mr Justice Charleton handled Maurice McCabe is that there are no ifs or buts.
“This was crucial for Maurice and his family, for his wife Lorraine and his father, the two rocks who stood behind him on this very difficult road.
“I am delighted that everybody is patting Maurice on the back now and that he is the people’s hero, but it was not always so.
“Mr Justice Charleton pinpointed that “The facts do not amount to an exoneration of the gardaí in their treatment of Maurice McCabe”.
“He said that his complaints generated considerable animosity, which continued over years. The station was divided. People did not want to get involved.
A total of 430 former and current senior gardaí were written to by the tribunal. Only two replied [with relevant information], and not one of them ever heard anything derogatory about Maurice McCabe.
“That is improbable, to use Mr Justice Charleton’s words. He said that when Maurice was “seeking a better level of policing standards, there were plenty of people who said there was nothing wrong”. I absolutely know that is the case.
“Arguing that was a long and lonely place in the early years, and while the terms of reference concentrated on particular aspects, it was never supposed to be a definitive account of policing in Ireland.
“In many ways, Mr Justice Charleton picked up on this at the Committee of Public Accounts [in January 2014], which was the culmination in some ways of the first round. It was not the start of this issue but came on the back of approximately two years of raising issues in this House.
“Mr Justice Charleton has dealt with the issues very well. We do not have the time to go through all of them but, in terms of the former Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, I note the Taoiseach tweeted that we should apologise to Deputy Frances Fitzgerald.
“Neither I nor Deputy Wallace joined the baying hyenas here this time last year who were looking for the head of the then Minister.
We made many points over the years about her handling of issues in the Department of Justice and Equality but not about people coming up in 2017 supposedly criticising her for knowledge she had in 2015 of the Commissioner’s dealings at the O’Higgins commission, knowledge they all had in 2016 and did not do anything about.
I do not believe I need to give an apology in that respect.
“What those emails did show, however, is that what was going on at the O’Higgins tribunal was not normal. It was a big deal. There were emails, calls and frantic efforts to contact the Commissioner, and while Mr Justice Charleton did not find that Nóirín O’Sullivan relied on false sex abuse allegations to discredit Maurice at the O’Higgins commission, we never said that she did or believed that she did.
“What was being said, however, and what was shown was that evidence was being produced at the O’Higgins commission to question his motivation.
We had the words of Colm Smyth and, critically, the letter of 18 May and the complaint against Superintendent Michael Clancy.
“While Mr Justice Charleton said that the letter “went off the rails” and that it was strange, he put it down to a mistake.
Ultimately for him, the only issue was whether that had anything to do with Nóirín O’Sullivan, and as other people said it had not, he did not want to go there, but it still happened.
For me, it is convenient to put it down to a mistake. What would have happened if Maurice had not had the tape?
“People talk about poor Nóirín O’Sullivan, and I note the Taoiseach referred to people who precipitated her early demise. We are a long time on the record as saying that Nóirín O’Sullivan did not go quickly enough. That is nothing personal.
“She should never have been appointed in the first place but did she hear about Templemore? Did she hear anything about false breath tests, the treatment of other whistleblowers or any of that good stuff, all of which was going on in the background?
“While Mr Justice Charleton accurately stated that she had no hand, act or part to play in the campaign of the then Commissioner, Martin Callinan, and Dave Taylor, that is not the same as saying that she had no case to answer. In fact, he did not accept her evidence on the lack of engagement with her legal counsel or on her dealings with Noel Waters, whose evidence he did not accept either.
He went on to make many comments contrary to her evidence, that her evidence was disappointing and so on. He also talked about it being improbable that she could not but have known what was being said about Maurice McCabe and, in essence, did nothing in that regard.
“The report accurately condemns the then Commissioner, Martin Callinan, and Dave Taylor. That has been well aired, but they were not the only ones involved.
“A number of retired gardaí were criticised as being inappropriate and extraordinary in their behaviour, including Assistant Commissioner Kenny, Superintendent McGinn and Chief Superintendent Sheridan, but what about serving members?
“Detective Superintendent O’Reilly was promoted since the tribunal started, but Mr. Justice Charleton is quite critical that his decision to introduce Paul Williams to the D family caused further and completely unjustified pain. What will be done to him?
“What will be done to John Barrett, the head of human resources, whose evidence was described by Mr. Justice Charleton as preposterous?
He said he was not satisfied that the conversations alluded to by John Barrett, allegedly with Cyril Dunne, ever took place. He did not believe his evidence in terms of Maurice McCabe either. That is very serious stuff.
“I refer to the false rape case being an unbelievable coincidence. I accept fully the judgment of Mr Justice Charleton on that.
“Rian counselling service came out well in the report but, my God, what an indictment of Tusla. The report refers to error upon error, complete misinformation, and files being randomly selected.
Mr. Justice Charleton said it was not a coincidence that Tusla opened Maurice McCabe’s file. They filleted a file that went to the historical sex abuse team and replaced the file when it came back. Those are points we do not have time to deal with.
“Mr Justice Charleton said he had a dreadful struggle to uncover the truth. I believe he uncovered an incredible amount of it. He said it is a cultural and an attitude problem and that reform of An Garda Síochána and coming up with new structures will not deal with it. I agree with him on that.”
Mick Wallace said:
“I have read the report. I would like to have an hour to make my contribution but I have only a few minutes.
On 8 June, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said “I know that an awful lot of people haven’t been telling me the truth”. I welcome Mr Justice Charleton’s report. He had a very difficult job. He said it was a dreadful struggle, but he has done incredibly well.
“We attended more than 25 of the 102 days of the tribunal hearings. Chris Noonan, my parliamentary assistant, attended most days. At times, it was a depressing experience.
It was hard to listen to public servants, in some cases retired Secretaries General, and Garda Commissioners, take the stand and be so economical with the truth.
“I have no intention of being critical of Mr Justice Charleton’s report. It is excellent.
While he was merciless in much of his report, and rightly so – he certainly did not spare Tusla or the Garda Síochána organisation – there were times when I thought his kind nature got the better of him.
“With any tribunal or commission of investigation, before one looks at the final report, one must look at the terms of reference and analyse how these may confine what the judge can examine.
Aside from being limited by the terms of reference, things were made immensely more difficult for him on this occasion due to the fact that so many people refused to tell the truth.
“Former press officer David Taylor was not spared, and rightly so. Mr Justice Charleton is someone we have come to admire very much, and one of his more admirable features is his intolerance for those blatantly lying to him. David Taylor was one of them.
“Both I and Deputy Clare Daly met David Taylor in his living room shortly after he made his protected disclosure.
Just why he decided to go into the tribunal and give a different version of events from that which he had given us is beyond us. It was a serious mistake on his part, and he has paid a high price for it.
“When the former Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality, Noel Waters, stated that he could not remember a 14-minute phone call between himself and Nóirín O’Sullivan during the O’Higgins commission, Mr Justice Charleton referred to it as improbable.
It was more than improbable.
“Mr Justice Charleton lambasted David Taylor with his ridiculous excuses regarding the two phones he did not cough up, so to speak.
I would have liked him to grill Nóirín O’Sullivan about the five phones she refused to cough up.
“Maurice McCabe requested a tribunal so that events would be examined in public rather than in private. He was right to do so.
“Mr Justice Cooke is investigating NAMA’s sale of Project Eagle. I can only imagine the lies he is being told.
Obviously, Mr Justice Charleton was told buckets of lies too, but it was in public, and the difference is that the public got the opportunity to see it. The Charleton tribunal has lifted the lid on how the establishment has no problem with lying.
“He has been slightly written out of history but people forget that Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was originally tasked with examining the disclosures of David Taylor and Maurice McCabe.
“He recommended that a commission of investigation be set up and drafted the terms of reference, the majority of which were used by the tribunal.
The ones he did not draft caused the most trouble, in particular, term of reference (e), which tasked Mr. Justice Charleton with examining the O’Higgins commission and whether false allegations of sexual abuse or any other unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by Nóirín O’Sullivan to discredit Sergeant McCabe.
“That was too narrow, and it did not allow Mr Justice Charleton to examine some of the other critical issues that played out during the O’Higgins commission.
He was only allowed assess Nóirín O’Sullivan’s role in regard to the O’Higgins commission, specifically whether she used a false allegation of rape to discredit Maurice.
We never alleged that or believed Nóirín O’Sullivan to be guilty of it. We did allege many other things, and with good reason.
“The famous letter of 18 May handed to the commission setting out the motivations of Maurice McCabe has fallen through the cracks.
“Mr Justice Charleton said it was accurate to a point and then it went off the rails. It is much worse than that; it is a pure work of fiction.
“In respect of the letter of 18 May, Mr Justice Charleton found that there was no deliberate attempt to write a series of quite silly mistakes by way of a submission undermining Maurice McCabe to the O’Higgins commission. I beg to differ. If mistakes were made and accepted, why did they always go against Maurice McCabe?
“If Chief Superintendent Rooney and Superintendent Cunningham had nothing to hide with regard to their input into the letter, why did they claim privilege in respect of it when they were before the tribunal?
“With regard to the role of Nóirín O’Sullivan in the smear campaign, Mr Justice Charleton found that she had no role in it, but also found that it was improbable that she did not know it was happening.
I would have liked him to build on that finding. A deputy commissioner of An Garda Síochána has a duty of care to all of its officers, and Nóirín O’Sullivan knew what Commissioner Callinan was doing, yet she failed to act.
“As I said, there was much that Mr Justice Charleton could not comment on due to the terms of reference, and that is a pity.
There has been a rewriting of history by both the media and the political establishment with regard to the story of Garda malpractice and how the issues came to light.
This Chamber was a lonely place in 2012 and 2013 when we were highlighting the penalty points issues and other Garda wrongdoings.
“Mr Justice Charleton referred to the O’Mahoney report and stated that the report found no evidence of crime, corruption, deception or falsification. Obviously, he could not make findings on that report. Although it is now completely discredited, when the report was published, it was heralded.
“The former Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, went onto the plinth of Leinster House and abused the whistleblowers, and Martin Callinan told the Oireachtas committee that Assistant Commissioner O’Mahoney’s report was credible and factually correct and that it was based on fact. That is not true.
Those lines were accepted by the media at the time without any scrutiny and our protestations were rubbished.
“Mr Justice Charleton also touched upon a letter Chief Superintendent Rooney passed around to local gardaí in the Cavan-Monaghan division in 2011, congratulating everyone involved in the Byrne-McGinn inquiry on their good work.
Chief Superintendent Rooney apologised for this letter at the tribunal and Mr Justice Charleton stated that the apology was belated. It was more than belated; it was a disgrace of a letter.
“On the media, the Charleton report stated that the tribunal had the greatest difficulty in getting any information from journalists and that journalistic privilege has two parts, the entitlement to assert it and the right of society to override it in the interest of a pressing national concern. I have not noticed many journalists quoting Mr. Justice Charleton on that.
“…In his conclusion, Mr Justice Charleton states that a tribunal, having completed its work, might hope that thereby some improvement could occur.
He states that a tribunal should speak freely and should in no way be trapped by the temptation of cynicism that nothing may change. I
believe that this tribunal was worthwhile. I believe things will change for the better.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton has done the State a great service, unlike so many who went up to Dublin Castle to tell him lies.”
Yesterday: The Tribunal Wrote To More Than 430 Officers. Two Replied With Relevant Information
The Media And Maurice
“In terms of the media coverage of the events at Dublin Castle, Olga Cronin from broadsheet.ie, Sean Murray of thejournal.ie, and Mick Clifford [Irish Examiner] deserve to be singled out for praise. Some of what was written would certainly have prevented Mr. Justice Charleton from enjoying his breakfast if he had the misfortune to have read it.”
Mick Wallce in the Dáil last night.
G’wan the Olga.
Previously: Legal Coffee Drinker: Charelton Report Conclusions