Tag Archives: irish Daily Star

Last night.

A campus-wide ban on the Irish Daily Star was re-affirmed by the university’s Students Union for another three years.

The paper was removed from sale at the college in 2015 after it featured a photo on its front page of the five UCD Students’ who were killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse  “in a very despicable manner”.


From top: Michael O’Toole; Lorraine and Maurice McCabe with Michael McDowell SC; since deleted tweets from Mr O’Toole last Summer

The assistant editor and crime correspondent of the Irish Daily Star Michael O’Toole gave evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal.

Mr O’Toole was named by Supt Dave Taylor as one of the journalists whom he negatively briefed as part of the alleged smear campaign against whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe between mid-2013 and the end of March 2014.

Mr O’Toole told the tribunal he was never “negatively briefed” by Supt Taylor and that no member of An Garda Síochána ever smeared Sgt McCabe to him.

He said he did hear a rumour about Sgt McCabe in 2010/2011 from “a very experienced journalist with significant access to the political world” – before Supt Dave Taylor started working in the Garda Press Office in the summer of 2012.

Mr O’Toole said he then checked out the rumour with a contact and satisfied himself there was nothing to the rumour as he learned of the DPP’s directions which included the line:

“Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not constitute a sexual assault or indeed an assault… there is no basis for prosecution.”

So categorical was Mr O’Toole’s testimony – and that of fellow crime and security correspondents John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, and Conor Lally, of The Irish Times – it was relied upon by Shane Murphy SC, for An Garda Síochána, when the Garda legal team made its final submission to Judge Peter Charleton to point out a weakness in Supt Taylor’s claim.

Their testimony was used to point out that some journalists knew of the Ms D allegation several years before Supt Taylor was allegedly briefing journalists about it in 2013/2014.

Mr Murphy said:

“… we say the task of the Tribunal is somewhat complicated by the fact that the Tribunal has heard extensive evidence of stories indicating the wider circulation of rumours about Sergeant McCabe in media, political and Garda circles in 2014 and 2013.

Knowledge of the fact that Sergeant McCabe had been the subject of a complaint of sexual assault was known to some journalists, specifically involved in covering policing and crime issues, from as early as 2011.

“And this has emerged also in the course of the evidence in this Tribunal. Chairman, you will remember the evidence of crime reporter Michael O’Toole of The Star newspaper, where he said he heard it some time around then and that he heard it from a non-Garda source.

Similar evidence was given by John Mooney, crime correspondent the Sunday times. Mr Conor Lally also gave evidence that he heard about this around 2010/2011.

“This of course was long before the period being considered by this Tribunal and indeed before the beginning of the alleged campaign which Superintendent Taylor alleged he was instructed and directed to begin, in the middle of 2013.”

Mr Murphy went on to quote directly from Mr O’Toole’s evidence, saying:

“It’s noteworthy that at that stage Mr O’Toole, having become aware from sources which were non-Garda sources, was moved to explore the allegation and he has told you that he promptly established from local Garda sources not only that no charges had been directed against Sergeant McCabe but that there was no substance to the allegations.

And Mr O’Toole when he spoke to you about that uttered the phrase, very memorable phrase, he said “the matter was dead to me from then on”.”

This memorable phrase was also used by Conor Lally, of The Irish Times, when he told the tribunal, a day after Mr O’Toole gave evidence:

“…it was a dead piece of information from the off.

Mr O’Toole said the matter was “dead” for him four times during the course of his evidence.

He said:

“I was lucky enough to have a contact who knows Sergeant McCabe – I can’t say who it is, but he spoke very highly of him, he called him Maurice, he said he had worked with him, said he was a very competent Sergeant, he had done files with him and he explained the background of the investigation and the outcome of the DPP’s file.

So once I heard that, the matter was dead for me, because there was absolutely no story for me in this.

I don’t think any journalist in their right mind, once they hear that the DPP has not only directed no charges, but said it’s – whatever the phrase is – it was very unlikely that any offence was disclosed,

I don’t think any journalist in their right mind would consider writing anything about this. The issue was dead for me.”

He later said:

“After I heard about the DPP’s directions. The issue was dead for me.”

And, again later, repeated:

The issue was dead for me…”

Despite this Mr O’Toole tweeted last summer about journalists’ coverage of the Tusla module of the Disclosures Tribunal and how they reported that the DPP had “dismissed” Ms D’s claim.

On July 13, 2017, Mr O’Toole tweeted:

“Hacks saying the DPP “dismissed” allegations. Really? I thought it either said enough evidence for a charge or not. #DisclosuresTribunal”

In a follow-up tweet, he asked:

“I mean what does ‘dismiss’ even mean?’

The idea of “enough evidence for a charge or not” chimes with some previous evidence the tribunal heard.

When Ms D, Mr D and Mrs D gave evidence, neither of them were specifically asked about what Supt Noel Cunningham – who carried out the initial investigation into Ms D’s claim in 2006 – told them of the DPP’s directions in 2007.

But, when Ms D gave evidence, while recalling her annoyance over RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy wanting to refer her claim to Tusla in the summer of 2013, Ms D told the tribunal, she told Ms Brophy:

I said that this case had already been investigated, the DPP came back to say that there was insufficient evidence…”

When Ms Brophy gave evidence to the tribunal she said, during her initial assessment of Ms D in which Ms D made her allegation against Sgt McCabe, Ms Brophy wrote down:

“DPP returned file due to lack of evidence.”

And while Supt Cunningham gave evidence to the tribunal, Michael McDowell, SC, for Sgt McCabe, said Sgt McCabe, in 2007, wasn’t given the real reasons for the DPP’s directions that there be no prosecution against Sgt McCabe.

Instead, Mr McDowell said, Sgt McCabe was told there was no prosecution due to “insufficient evidence”.

Indeed, Supt Cunningham told the tribunal:

“I told him [Sgt McCabe] there was no prosecution, I believe it was due to lack of evidence, I didn’t actually take a note of it…”

At the time Supt Cunningham told Sgt McCabe this – in 2007 –  Sgt McCabe already knew the DPP’s full instructions because the Cavan State Solicitor Rory Hayden, on April 5, 2007, read out the instructions to him.

Sgt McCabe kept his knowledge of the directions to himself, the tribunal heard.

In addition, the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s private secretary Frank Walsh also referred to there being “insufficient evidence” against Sgt McCabe when he gave evidence to the tribunal.

But the term “insufficient evidence” does not appear in the DPP’s directions.

Mr O’Toole also told the tribunal that, as far as he could recollect, no journalist ever went to him with any rumours about Sgt McCabe in 2012, 2013 or 2014.

And he said – in relation to the 11 journalists named by Supt Dave Taylor as having been negatively briefed by him – Mr O’Toole said:

“I can say the journalists that I would be close to, other journalists, you know, there are active crime correspondents that I would be particularly friendly with and we never, this never came up…I would be closer to some and not others. But yes, I would know them all….No, never [the matter never came up with these journalists] The issue was dead for me…”

When Mr O’Toole was giving evidence, it was put to him, by Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, that Mr O’Toole had recently come into “possession of some information that the tribunal is looking into” and that Mr O’Toole was to make a short statement to that effect.

However, the tribunal never heard any further details on this.

The tribunal heard that, from Supt Taylor’s billings records, it would seem that Mr O’Toole had approximately 240 telephone contacts with Supt Taylor between August 2013 and when the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan stood down, in March 2014.

Mr O’Toole wouldn’t confirm his phone number to the tribunal – saying that to do so might lead to the identification of sources:

“I refuse to engage with anybody in any State or official aspect about my mobile phone.”

As he wouldn’t confirm his phone number, Mr O’Toole also wouldn’t confirm to Judge Peter Charleton that he had around 10 telephone conversations with Supt Taylor every month during that timeframe.

John Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, put to Mr O’Toole that, while he claimed the Ms D issue was “dead” for him – once he learned of the DPP’s directions – that that was separate to the idea that the Ms D matter was the motivation for Sgt McCabe making complaints about policing, which Supt Taylor claims he was telling journalists.

Mr O’Toole said:

“I’m going to claim privilege in that. But again to stress, I have no interest in anybody’s motivation in telling me anything. People tell me things. I talk to people who perhaps shouldn’t be talking to me and are afraid to talk to me. So I never question why, I question the accuracy of what they say.”

Mr O’Toole repeatedly told the tribunal nobody smeared Sgt McCabe to him and said Supt Taylor’s claim that he could have done so while they were at a crime scene was “preposterous” as such scenes are “chaotic”.

And he confirmed:

“Nobody in the Press Office maligned, smeared, negatively briefed, mentioned Maurice McCabe to me.”

Mr O’Toole also told the tribunal he had been “vexed” by some media coverage about crime reporters concerning Sgt McCabe.

He said:

“I have to admit I was vexed by the suggestion that crime reporters, including myself, were used in this smear. I was very disappointed by some of the reportage. I know, look, I’m sure they’re all lovely people, but I know there was evidence last week about the Sunday Times piece saying that crime reporters were at the centre of this briefing.

That story rankled with me at the time and it has rankled with me ever since. All she had to do was ring me and ask me or ring any other journalist and we would say ‘I wasn’t part of any campaign’. I was very, very disappointed, because that came into the public commentariat.”

It’s understood Mr O’Toole was referring to a piece in The Sunday Times by Justine McCarthy from February 2017.

When Noel Whelan BL, for An Garda Síochána, asked Mr O’Toole questions about the person who set him straight in terms of the DPP’s directions, Mr O’Toole said:

“I had someone with a knowledge of it, I’m not going to say if he was a Garda or a retired member, but I had someone who I trusted implicitly, I’ve known that person for a very, very, very long time, someone of the highest integrity – as I said, he called this person Maurice, so there’s obviously some sort of personal relationship there. And he gave me enough, more than enough detail for me to accept that this person knew what was happening. And that was the end of it for me.”

Mr O’Toole told the tribunal the Sgt McCabe story was more of a political story than a crime story. In respect of the journalists who went to the D house in early 2014 seemingly seeking a story from Ms D – Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun, and Paul WIlliams, of the Irish Independent – Mr O’Toole said:

I had no interest in it. Sergeant McCabe was declared innocent by the DPP. I mean, what sort of journalist in their right mind would go after this story? Some journalists think, believe it or not some journalists [think] they’re Gardaí, some think that they’re solicitors. I’m a journalist, that’s my job.”

However, last summer, the tribunal heard from Ms D’s father Mr D that Mr O’Toole did try to contact him via Facebook in early 2014 – around the time other journalists were contacting him about Ms D’s allegation.

Mr D said they didn’t talk about the Ms D case.

Mr O’Toole wasn’t asked about this alleged attempt to contact Mr D.


Last Friday in the High Court, Cian Ferriter SC, for The Irish Times, read out an apology to Sgt Maurice McCabe for an article written by Conor Lally – about Sgt McCabe and Ms D – which was published on February 20, 2017.

The apology included the lines:

“The Director of Public Prosecutions determined, after a careful and professional investigation, that no offence of any kind had been disclosed against Sgt McCabe and that there was no basis in fact or law for any prosecution.

“Contrary to what was suggested in the articles, the Director of Public Prosecutions did not base his direction on “insufficient evidence”.

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Mirror

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Sun

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Examiner: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The irish Examiner: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And The Mail Newspapers

 Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTÉ

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times



From top: Gemma O’Doherty’s documentary, Mary Boyle: The Untold Story; Independent.ie logo.

Gemma O’Doherty posted her documentary Mary Boyle: The Untold Story on YouTube on July 4 – about the disappearance of six-year-old twin Mary Boyle in Donegal in 1977.

The documentary, which has been viewed more than 160,000 times, features interviews with retired sergeant Martin Collins and retired detective sergeant Aidan Murray, in which they allege political interference in the investigation into Mary’s disappearance.

It’s been recently reported in the Independent that both men have since denied there was political interference.

Ms O’Doherty, in an interview with Ocean FM yesterday, said, once the documentary was posted online, the two men were very happy with the documentary; she hasn’t been contacted by either of the men and that she finds the reports to be “very sinister”.

The documentary has been the subject of several critical stories in the Independent, where Ms O’Doherty worked as a journalist before she was fired after calling to the home of the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to question him about quashed penalty points.

And yet it is the paper’s recent coverage of Mary Boyle’s fate, much like the recent ‘revelations’ concerning Philip Cairns case, that have sown the most confusion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 (morning): Irish Independent reports on a report by the Irish Daily Star that, in the next few weeks, the Garda cold case unit will launch a “fresh investigation” into the disappearance of Mary Boyle, “with all evidence and suspects to be reexamined”.

Following the investigation, which is expected to last six months, a report will be given to the Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

It’s reported:

“‘The first thing that will happen is that the team will go to Donegal (where Mary disappeared) to get a feel for the area,’ a source told [the] newspaper. The source also revealed that the detectives would draw up a list of all serving and retired gardai that investigated Mary’s disappearance in 1977. The source said that the new cold case team would have no pre-conceived ideas of who was or wasn’t a suspect and that all evidence would be followed.”

The report mentions former Irish Independent journalist Gemma O’Doherty’s documentary about Mary’s disappearance – without naming Ms O’Doherty.

It’s reported:

“After a documentary into the investigation earlier this month called Mary Boyle: The Untold Story, there were claims of political interference by two former gardai involved in the case. Retired sergeant Martin Collins claimed a political figure rang gardai at the height of the probe and said: ‘The gist was that none of a particular family should be made suspect for Mary’s interference’.

“Former detective Aidan Murray told the documentary he believed he was close to getting a suspect to confess to murdering Mary but was told to ‘ease-off’ on the suspect by a senior officer. Mary’s twin sister Ann said she believes Mary was being sexually abused and was killed to cover ‘the secret’.”

In addition, it’s reported:

“Six-year-old Mary Boyle had been at her grandparents’ house in Cashelard, a remote and boggy townland outside Ballyshannon, where the extended family had lunch. Her uncle, Gerry Gallagher, was the last person to see her alive after she walked back to her grandparent’s house but never made it there.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 (evening): Independent.ie reports that the gardaí have confirmed that cold case detectives are reviewing the Mary Boyle case.

However, they also report

“In a statement given to independent.ie this evening, Garda HQ said a review is underway into the disappearance of Mary. This evening gardaí dismissed reports that a new investigation is underway, saying the case has never been closed… However the statement said it is being reviewed.”

The statement is reported as saying:

“The disappearance of Mary Boyle is under active investigation as it has been since Mary disappeared and that investigation will continue. Any new information that is reported to An Garda Síochána, in relation to an ongoing investigation, will be investigated accordingly.

“As well as the investigation at the time there have been two reviews by An Garda Síochána into Mary’s disappearance. The latest began in 2011 and is being undertaken by a Review Team from the Northern Region.

“The Review team has to date conducted a significant investigation that has involved interviewing a wide range of people and undertaking a number of searches with the assistance of forensic and geology experts. Its investigation is ongoing.

“The Serious Crime Review team has recently been tasked to review the case. The Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) was established in August 2007 to review of unresolved homicides and other serious crimes within the State.

“The primary purpose of a review is to assist Senior Investigation Officers who are investigating a serious crime by identifying new and potential investigative opportunities. Members of the SCRT are trained in homicide investigation and in the reviewing of unresolved homicides.

“The SCRT comes under the command of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services and the Office of the Detective Chief Superintendent, National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The head of the Serious Crime Review Team is Detective Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan.”

Friday, July 14, 2016: The Irish Independent reports on an Irish Daily Star report that says a 73-year-old fisherman PJ Coughlan claims he saw ‘a red Volkswagen Beetle speeding away from the area that Mary went missing ten minutes before he saw Mary’s uncle Gerry frantically searching for her’.

Mr Coughlan is quoted as saying: “I believe I saw her being driven away in a car. There’s no doubt in my mind she was lifted.”

It’s reported that:

“Coughlan was the first person at the Garda station in Ballyshannon in 1977 to report Mary’s disappearance. He said he told gardai about the car but he claimed that this wasn’t recorded because the gardai already had a suspect. Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan has confirmed that the cold case investigation into Mary’s disappearance will be launched in the next few weeks and will last up to six months.”

In addition, it’s reported that Mary’s sister Ann Doherty has complained to the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission over “gardai leaking information about the new investigation to the Irish Daily Star before she was notified.”

The article also includes a statement from Ann Doherty’s solicitor, Darragh Mackin which states:

“It is deeply troubling, that a decision was taken to provide such a development in an exclusive to a national newspaper, before conveying same to our client. Our Client, Ms Doherty has still not been contacted by An Garda Siochana to confirm the contents of the article and therefore we are not in a position to confirm the accuracy of whether or not there is in fact a fresh probe into the disappearance of Mary Boyle, on foot of the recently published documentary.”

Saturday, July 15, 2016: The Irish Independent reports that gardai have started to search a bog – that was previously searched – in Donegal “as a fresh investigation is underway into the disappearance of six-year-old Mary Boyle”. It’s reported that the bog is being drained.

The article repeats the claims of political interference made by two gardai in the documentary Mary Boyle: The Untold Story – again, without naming Gemma O’Doherty as having made the documentary.

Saturday, July 15, 2016 (later in the day):  The Irish Independent reports that “an excavation” has been started on land near where Mary Boyle went missing.

Monday, July 18, 2016: The Irish Independent reports that Fianna Fáil councillor Sean McEniff has released a statement.

The statement is quoted as saying:

“Mr McEniff emphatically and unconditionally denies that he was the politician who allegedly contacted the Gardai in Ballyshannon at the time of the disappearance of Mary Boyle.

“He has no knowledge of such a call other than what he has heard recently on what was contained in the video “Mary Boyle, The Untold Story”.”

“Mr McEniff is satisfied that the two former Gardai interviewed as part of the video have recently clarified that at the time of the disappearance or in the investigation that followed neither were aware of any such alleged phonecall and that there was no impediment from their superiors in the investigation as a result.”

It’s further reported:

“Mr McEniff also asserted his right to a good name and said he has taken legal advice in relation to what he says are defamatory comments ‘made both directly and by innuendo’.”

“The statement says he will also ‘take such steps as are necessary to protect his reputation’. He alleges that comments and statements made in relation to the issue are false, malicious and damaging to him. The statement also says Mr McEniff will make no further public statements in relation to the issue and all further related issues will be dealt with through his solicitors.”

The article names Gemma O’Doherty as the creator of the documentary.

It also states that McEniff, who has been a Donegal County Councillor for more than 40 years, supports the call for a Commission of Investigation into Mary Boyle’s case.

Sunday, August 14, 2016: The Sunday Independent reports that retired detective sergeant Aidan Murray, who was in Ms O’Doherty’s documentary, denies claims of political interference in the investigation into the disappearance of Mary Boyle.

It’s reported:

“Retired detective sergeant Aidan Murray, who featured in Mary Boyle: The Untold Story, has claimed the programme was ‘selective’ and ‘misleading’ in how it presented his interview.”

“In a sworn statement to a solicitor, Mr Murray said that at no stage during his investigation into the disappearance of the little girl in Donegal was he subjected to ‘interference’ or ‘pressure’.”

“He said his two senior officers, a superintendent and an inspector, were ‘honourable and professional men’ and ‘at no point attempted to influence’ him in the conduct of the investigation.”

“He alleged that the documentary had ‘taken a number of my comments out of context and creates the wrong impression’.”

“Mr Murray’s comments echo those of his former colleague, retired sergeant Martin Collins, who also featured in the documentary, Mary Boyle: The Untold Story. Speaking to his local newspaper in Donegal, Mr Collins also denied any political interference.’”

In addition, it’s reported:

“In the statement, which he made last week, Mr Murray said: ‘I was not aware of any alleged phone call at the time and I subsequently heard the rumour many months later at a garda conference.’ He said: ‘The reason Inspector Daly asked me to pause the interview was because of his genuine concern for the mental health of the person being interviewed. It was not for any other reason.’”

“Mr Murray alleged that the Mary Boyle documentary was ‘selectively edited to suggest that this was because of political interference. This is absolutely incorrect.’”

Monday, August 15, 2016: The Irish Independent repeats sections of the Sunday Independent report in relation to Mr Murray but includes that, “Mr Murray says Fianna Fáil councillor Sean McEniff ‘did not make any phone or contact the gardai in relation to the investigation’.”

The article also includes sections of Mr McEniff’s statement of July where he denied contacting the gardaí in Ballyshannon at the time of Mary’s disappearance.

It further includes a line about retired Sgt Collins, saying “[Collings] emphatically told a local Donegal newspaper that there had been no political or garda cover-up.”

Further to the reports above, Ms O’Doherty did an interview with Ocean FM yesterday.

During the interview, Ms O’Doherty said:

“I have to say that it’s very alarming. Aidan Murray has not contacted me about this, nor asked me to retract anything that he said in my documentary and nor will I be retracting anything.

“Aidan Murray is very clear, in the documentary when he said, in his own words, that certain people were not allowed to be interviewed, as a result of the politician’s phone call. He said that, I didn’t, it came out of his own mouth. You cannot really un-say what you have said.

“…We did actually record them twice because I was involved with UTV Northern Ireland, making a documentary, and the two men travelled over to Lough Erne Resort and we did interview there.

“Now, we decided we weren’t going to go ahead with UTV, for a number of reasons, so this was something that they did at their own free will. And, you know, I know that after the documentary was aired, on July the 4th, they expressed profound happiness about it.

“Margo spoke to both of them, Margo O’Donnell and she said that they were overjoyed. And I spoke to them and I know that that was their sense as well. So, I haven’t heard from them in relation to this sudden retraction but I do find it very sinister.”

Meanwhile, Mary Boyle: The Untold Story will be screened in Eoin’s Bar on Clanbrassil Street in Dundalk, Co. Louth tonight,  followed by a Q&A with Ms O’Doherty and Margo O’Donnell.

It will begin at 8pm and admission is free.

Producer of Mary Boyle documentary describes statement as ‘sinister’ (Ocean FM)

Watch Mary Boyle: The Untold Story here

Thanks Rory


LiamZero writes:

I see the Irish Star wasn’t in your front pages round-up last night. Here it is (above). Apart from it being of dubious taste, would the likes of the Star not be jumping up and down in outrage if a Thai paper had printed a photo of he mangled, bloodied corpse of an Irish woman on its front page? Or is it cool ‘cos she’s just a prostitute? I’m not outraged at it myself, just rather bemused. And slightly queasy.