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.