Tag Archives: Maurice McCabe

From left: Conor Brady; Judge Peter Charleton

During the Disclosures Tribunal, Judge Peter Charleton repeatedly called out for journalists, or anyone else, with any knowledge of any smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe to come forward and make it known to the tribunal.

The judge made a specific appeal after editor of The Irish Mirror John Kierans gave evidence, and told how it was his understanding that former Garda Press Officer Supt Dave Taylor had “peddled” the story about Sgt McCabe and Ms D to various newsrooms in Dublin in early 2014.

Judge Charleton said:

“I would be grateful if the message would go forth through whatever media are present in the room, there is actually a duty on people who actually know something about this to come forward.

“I made that plea back in February 2017, and here is yet another variation of people not coming forward, perhaps, perhaps suppressing matters, here is a view being expressed in relation to a situation where an individual has completely waived their privilege.

“If people say they have a privilege but they know something, I would much rather know that, than for them to simply, if it is the case, sit in their office blocks and not come to the Tribunal and not communicate. There is a website. You can communicate. There is a phone line. It is manned. It will be manned indeed all day on Saturday.

“This matter is coming close to an end. And I regard it as not a legal obligation, but much, much more serious than that: a patriotic obligation of people who know something to come forward so that the people of Ireland aren’t left in the daft situation that people who know things in the journalistic profession have not come forward to speak, but, nonetheless, will be able to write articles about what happened to them in the aftermath of the Tribunal report appearing.

“Now, in the event that that happens, the people of Ireland will no doubt take their own view as to the credibility of the persons who do that and that may indeed cause damage to the media outlets who may be involved in this, and I don’t know if they are or not, much worse than any libel action on earth; in other words, people simply stop trusting journalists.

“And it is important that they do, because journalists fulfil an extremely important function within our society and one which personally I value very highly.”


In yesterday’s The Sunday Times

Former Garda Ombudsman Conor Brady, in an opinion piece about An Garda Síochána, wrote:

Many gardai passed on the word to whoever would listen that McCabe was a “bad one”. A businessman friend of mine was told this by a superintendent on the golf course.

One senior official solemnly assured me, in the company of others, that there was a “whole other side” to McCabe.

Mr Brady did not appear as a witness at the Disclosures Tribunal.

Conor Brady: The Maurice McCabe saga goes beyond a morality tale (The Sunday Times)

Earlier: Bryan Wall: Vinidcation At The Expense Of Justice


In a statement to Broadsheet, a spokesman for the Disclosures Tribunal said:

‘The  tribunal  wishes to advise, Mr Brady never contacted the tribunal and or/gave us a statement and we were not aware of this information.

Mr Brady was never mentioned to us as a journalist we should pursue. He did however, have a GSOC involvement – he was a member of the board from 2005 to 2011.

The tribunal has no further comment to make.’


From top (clockwise) Irish Mail on Sunday editor Conor O’Donnell, IMOS Crime Correspondent Debbie McCann, Deputy News Editor of the IMOS Robert Cox, Irish Daily Mail journalist Alison O’Reilly, Mail Group Editor Sebastian Hamilton; Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun; Irish Times Crime Editor Conor Lally; Daniel McConnell, Juno McEnroe and Cormac O’Keeffe, of The Irish Examiner; John Burke, of RTÉ

Ahead of statements being made in the Dáil about the report this afternoon from 4.50pm

And further to a post this morning concerning some of Judge Peter Charleton’s findings on certain gardai who appeared at the Disclosures Tribunal…

Judge Charleton also found that some journalists also frustrated his efforts to find out exactly what happened to Sgt McCabe.

At the outset, he found that “no newspaper or media outlet ever traduced the character of Maurice McCabe in consequence of any communication from Superintendent Taylor, or indeed at all” in relation to the Ms D allegation which was found to have no foundation by the DPP in 2007.

He wrote:

“No one in print or on radio or on television or on Internet sites ever said either that Maurice McCabe had abused a child or that he was a bitter man with hidden agendas in consequence of being investigated by his colleagues due to an allegation made against him in December 2006 of what was then claimed to be historic abuse.”

But he conceded:

“Rumours were, however, as this report details in part, flying around about him; particularly from 2013 and in January 2014.”

Following on from former Garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor claiming in his protected disclosure that he “negatively briefed” journalists about Sgt McCabe – but giving no significant details of where, when and how he briefed them – the tribunal wrote to 25 journalists at the outset of the tribunal’s inquiries on March 15, 2017.

Each of these journalists, after having been found to have been in contact with Supt Taylor during the relevant period of time of the smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, were asked if they had any information relevant to tribunal’s terms of reference.

On March 21, 2017, the tribunal wrote to Conor Lally, of The Irish Times.

[This took place a month after the publication of an article by Mr Lally, on February 20, 2017, based on an interview he had with Ms D, upon which Sgt McCabe subsequently took action. The print version of the article was headlined “Woman behind alleged complaint about McCabe wants her day before inquiry” while its online version was headed “When can I get on with the rest of my life? – woman at the centre of the McCabe case”.]

[In the High Court in July 2018, the newspaper apologised to Sgt McCabe for suggesting in the article that the DPP’s ruling that no prosecution be made against Sgt McCabe was based on merely “insufficient evidence”.

[When Mr Lally gave evidence to the tribunal – which took place between the time he wrote the article and when The Irish Times apologised to Sgt McCabe – Mr Lally said he had first heard of the Ms D allegation in 2010 or 2011 and that the matter was “dead” to him because he knew “the case was, quote-unquote, completely thrown out by the DPP]

On April 21, 2017, the tribunal wrote to each of the 25 journalists again and it also wrote to Cormac O’Keeffe and Daniel McConnell, of The Irish Examiner.

On April 24, 2017, the tribunal wrote to Mr Lally again.

The judge noted:

“In these letters to 28 journalists, the tribunal requested answers to a list of questions relevant to its terms of reference. With one exception, no answer was given to the complete set of questions at that time.”

[That exception was Frank Greaney, of Newstalk]

On April 13, 2017, Supt Taylor gave the tribunal the names of nine journalists – claiming that he negatively briefed them about Sgt McCabe.

Continue reading →


Tweets last night about the Blogging Unveiled controversy from John Mooney, an investigative journalist with The Sunday Times.

The last line in the second tweet is reference to Mr Mooney and his paper’s role in the Maurice McCabe saga.

And barely-veiled criticism of those who confirmed the source of negative and dishonest briefings about the Garda whistleblower.


Good times.


Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

They Are Laughing At You

From top: Lorraine and Maurice McCabe; Cathal McMahon and John Kierans

Cathal McMahon worked as a crime reporter with the Irish Mirror between July 2012 and June 2014 – roughly the same period of time that Supt Dave Taylor was the head of the Garda Press Office.

He told the Disclosures Tribunal that sometime in early 2014 – and most likely in January or February 2014 – he was told by a source that Sgt Maurice McCabe had been investigated over an allegation of child sex abuse in the Cavan area and that “the allegation was historic in nature”.

Mr McMahon didn’t identify this source to the tribunal.

But he confirmed it was neither Supt Taylor, the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan or the then Deputy Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

He also confirmed it wasn’t any member of An Garda Síochána.

Asked what he did with this information, Mr McMahon said:

“I then contacted Superintendent Dave Taylor, who was at the time the Press Officer, and he confirmed the story as I had given it to him, and the only addition was that he suggested that maybe I should go to Cavan and find further details there.”

Mr McMahon said Supt Taylor – whom he contacted directly by phone – didn’t direct him to go to anyone in particular in Cavan and Mr McMahon didn’t ask him to point to anyone in particular.

He said he was “dubious” about the allegation because “obviously if the allegation was true, it would have been investigated, he may have been brought before the courts”.

He said he wasn’t aware of the outcome of the investigation into Ms D’s complaint and that he and Supt Taylor did not discuss the DPP’s directions regarding Ms Ds complaint.

Mr McMahon said, after speaking with Supt Taylor, he thought the next prudent step was to talk to his editor John Kierans – whom, Mr McMahon said, told him he didn’t feel it was a story worth pursuing. Mr McMahon said he was satisfied with this response.

But the tribunal heard Mr Kierans – in a statement to the tribunal, before he gave evidence – say that he thought Mr McMahon was “disappointed” with this response.

When this was put to Mr McMahon, he said that wasn’t his memory of what happened.

Mr McMahon told the tribunal about his interaction with Supt Taylor in June 2018, after his former editor John Kierans first told the tribunal of the matter in the same month.

Similarly to other journalists, the tribunal wrote to Mr McMahon in March and April 2017 – but “no substantial reply” was received.

When Mr McMahon was asked why he didn’t tell the tribunal about this encounter with Supt Taylor from the outset, Mr McMahon said:

“I sought legal counsel at the time, and I was taken to believe that my evidence didn’t fall within the terms of reference of the Tribunal. I obviously had serious concerns about the protection of sources, as a number of colleagues in other newspapers have raised.

“I didn’t write anything about this story. I never pursued the story outside a very short conversation. I wasn’t negatively briefed about Sergeant McCabe by any of the people mentioned as part of the terms of reference of this Tribunal. And I also wasn’t named by Superintendent Dave Taylor as one of the 11 journalists he said he had negatively briefed.”

Mr McMahon wasn’t named by Supt Taylor when he initially claimed to have negatively briefed nine journalists – Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent; 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 – about Sgt McCabe.

He later added two – Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, and Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun – after the D family told the tribunal that the two journalists had separately called to their house in early 2014 – in an attempt to talk about Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

None of these journalists confirmed Supt Taylor’s claim that he negatively briefed them, and Mr McMahon also told the tribunal that Supt Taylor never negatively briefed him.

But in relation to this position, that he wasn’t negatively briefed by Supt Taylor, Mr McMahon had this exchange with Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal.

Leader: “You say you weren’t negatively briefed about Sergeant McCabe, but at the same time you’re saying you did speak to Superintendent Taylor in relation to the D allegation, as it is referred to here, and he pointed you in a particular direction. Do you consider that negatively briefing?

McMahon: “It was a direction I already knew. He was merely repeating what I had already said to him — in terms of the location of where the allegation had come from.”

Leader: “Right. But, for instance, Superintendent Taylor could say, look, there’s nothing to that and leave it at that, instead of pointing you in a particular direction, maybe — maybe it does actually constitute negative briefing, pointing you in a particular direction, hinting that you should take the story a bit further, do you see that now, with the benefit of hindsight?

McMahon: “I’m not quite sure what you are asking, sorry.”

Judge Peter Charleton then attempted to tease out Ms Leader’s question for Mr McMahon when they had the following exchange:

Charleton: “In other words, counsel’s question, as I understand it, is this: You hear a rumour, then you go to someone who is expected to know whether the rumour
is true or not, but the person then confirms the rumour, and added on to that is, well, what I would take as an invitation to go and look into the matter further and the place you need to look into it is indeed the area you mentioned. That is counsel’s question.”

Leader: “Yes.”

Charleton: “So that –”

McMahon: “Are you asking me if I should have come forward sooner?”

Charleton: “No, I think — I know what counsel is actually asking you is, I suppose, the definition of negative briefing, do you see that as being helpful to Sergeant McCabe or not helpful to Sergeant McCabe? If it was you they were talking about –”

McMahon: “I understand.”

Charleton: “– that there was an historical allegation of sex abuse, that it happened in relation to a child, if they went to your editor and if they asked the question, look, is it true what they say about this fellow, and the editor confirmed it, yes, and furthermore, if you want to find out more, the place to go is Drumcondra, where this thing happened, counsel is asking you how would you feel about that?”

McMahon: “Yes, I understand.”

Leader: “Yes.”

McMahon: “So are you asking me to say if I feel like I should have taken different steps?”

Leader: “Well, no, do you think now, having heard it explained to you in those terms, that that constitutes negative briefing?”

McMahon: “I don’t believe I was negatively briefed.”

It was also put to Mr McMahon by John Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, that because Supt Taylor didn’t set him straight on the Ms D allegation – that that was a form of negative briefing.

Mr McMahon accepted that that was Mr Ferry’s view.

Mr Ferry also told Mr McMahon that Supt Taylor maintained that Mr McMahon was a journalist whom he negatively briefed about Sgt McCabe at crime scenes and during phone conversations.

But Mr McMahon maintained that this was not correct and that they only had the one interaction about Sgt McCabe, referred to above.

Mr Ferry also put it to Mr McMahon that it was Supt Taylor’s case that Mr McMahon didn’t go to Supt Taylor about Sgt McCabe and Ms D but, instead, Supt Taylor briefed Mr McMahon.

Mr McMahon said: “That is simply not true.

And in regards to Mr McMahon’s claim that Supt Taylor directed him to Cavan, Mr Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, said Supt Taylor maintains “he never referred or directed any journalist to travel to Cavan”.

When Mr Kierans gave his evidence to the tribunal, he said he didn’t have much to say in dispute with Mr McMahon.

Recalling the day Mr McMahon told him about the Ms D allegation, which was the first time Mr Kierans heard about the allegation, Mr Kierans said:

“Basically, Cathal got this really good story, came in to us, we had a meeting in the boardroom in the office in Dublin, he said that he had a cracking story about that Sergeant McCabe had been questioned over the abuse of a child. I was quite shocked, you know. In our world we would have looked at it as one hell of a story, but my antenna was up and I felt that something wasn’t right.

“And it’s one thing for somebody to be questioned by the police, but my view of it was, well, why hadn’t he been charged, you know. And, like, we talked about the story. I don’t really — because it’s four or five years ago, I don’t really remember the full discussion I had with Cathal, to be honest about it, and, you know, I took a decision, you know, I spoke to the news desk about it, some of my executives, and over the next couple of days Cathal said that he’d go to Cavan, and I told him not to, that I wanted to hold off, that I just felt something was wrong here, that I didn’t really believe it.

“My view of it was, you know, this was a very, very serious story, if we are going to run it, the risks to the publication from a defamation point of view would have been absolutely huge, you know, we were talking about millions, making an allegation, if it turned out to be false, against a Garda whistleblower, and also the fact that Sergeant McCabe had been a whistleblower also, you know, I don’t always believe everything that I’m told by governments or by the police. So, for that reason, I kind of decided that we’d back off.

“Now, I didn’t believe the story and I wasn’t going to run it, so I more or less told Cathal to just concentrate on other things, that I wasn’t going to take a risk on it, and I didn’t really believe it in my gut, to be perfectly honest.”

“…And then the other thing that was in my head: Why are the cops telling us this? You know, why are the gardaí telling us that Maurice McCabe has been questioned over a child sex abuse allegation, you know? And the fact that he was a whistleblower, you know, I kind of said there’s something not right here. So again, in my gut, I felt my antenna was up and I walked away from the story. I’m glad I did because it was absolutely totally untrue.”

Mr Kierans told the tribunal that Mr McMahon never told him the identity of his initial source but he did think it was Supt Taylor, however he said he accepted that Mr McMahon had told the tribunal that this wasn’t the case.

Mr Kierans told the tribunal Mr McMahon is an honest individual.

He said:

“I just couldn’t believe that the cops were spinning it, that’s the way I had seen it, that they so easily confirmed — you know, Cathal said that the guards had confirmed it. I can’t remember if I asked him specifically who it was, but I assumed it was Dave Taylor. Like, in fairness to Cathal, he’s a very honest reporter, always has been, he would always tell you the truth, and, as a journalist, he would never, ever put you wrong on a story. He’s a very low-key guy. He’s not one of those guys who wants to be on television every night of the week, and he’s a very honest individual.”

He also reiterated how suspicious he was of what had been confirmed to Mr McMahon, saying:

“It also kind of alarms me as well when the Garda Press Office were confirming a story against an existing member of their own force, right, because normally if a member of the Garda Síochána is in any trouble, they tend to cover it up from one end of the country to another, because they really stand together, the guards.”

Mr Kierans did see Paul Williams’ first article about Sgt McCabe and Ms D in the Irish Independent on April 12, 2014. Asked if he was regretting his decision not to send Mr McMahon to Cavan, Mr Kierans said:

“Absolutely not. I thought they were mad in the head to run it. Because it was anonymous, it was no names, what did it mean? Like, to Joe public, unless people are named, they don’t really know who they are. So you had a garda questioned over an allegation of paedophilia and there was no more detail, you know, so it was all anonymous. And you had quotes from the victim, is my recollection of it.

“So my view is, I didn’t care less, that is their business, and I suspect they’ll probably pay a price for it.

Mr Kierans, like Mr McMahon, didn’t tell the tribunal the information above until he gave a statement to the tribunal in June 2018.

Asked about this delay, he said:

“I like to tell the truth as best I can and I think this Tribunal is really important, I think that the Irish people have a right to know what was going on in the Gardaí at this particular time of our history, and when the investigators initially came into my office and interviewed me and they asked me had we come across any stories in relation to Maurice McCabe, and I didn’t remember any.

“And then subsequent to that, I think it was on the day I was due to come in here to give evidence, I had a phone call with somebody and then it just triggered a memory that I had and I mentioned it to my lawyer and he said, well, you’d better make a new statement to the Tribunal, and this is how it came about that this story that Cathal had, I had completely forgotten about it, and Cathal had been out of my mind because he’d left the Mirror and moved on to other publications, and that’s how it came to be.”

Mr Kierans didn’t tell the tribunal who he had spoken with on the phone.

He also went on to say he believes that when a source waives their privilege, journalistic privilege no longer applies.

He said:

“I think we’ve spent a lifetime cultivating our contacts and we build them up, and especially real confidential informants, it takes a lot of time and trust, and a lot of these people are your best friends and, you know, but if somebody wants — if a contact came to me and wanted to be identified, I would have no problem with it.

“But I have to say and I point out that in 38 years I have never had a contact who came to me, you know. But in this case Mr Taylor has identified himself, so I personally see no problem with it. I think privilege is something that should be cherished and it’s really important for our industry, and equally, I don’t think it should be misused either.”

Mr Kierans also told the tribunal that, after Mr McMahon brought his attention to the Ms D matter, “I would have discovered then over the following two or three weeks that that story had been peddled around town by Superintendent Taylor to a number of other news outlets”.

He latter added:

“I don’t know who he briefed or who he didn’t briefed. All I’m telling you is, my understanding was that that story that we came across was peddled around other newsrooms.”

In response to this, Judge Peter Charleton asked Mr Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, to find out what Supt Taylor’s response was to that claim.

The judge also made a lengthy plea for anyone with information to come forward and suggested there may be consequences for those with information who weren’t coming forward then but may go public in the future.

He said:

The evidence now from Mr Kierans is that this particular story was peddled around the town to at least two or three other newsrooms or news editors by Superintendent Taylor, and I think it is up to him to say whether that happened or not and what the names of those people are. And whereas I am grateful, obviously, to the media, and from time to time I see, because I do read the newspapers and I get both entertainment and instruction from them, perhaps colourful things that I have said in relation to, I don’t know, Kurosawa or anything else like that coming up, but this is a very serious matter.

“I mean, this thing is beginning to come to an end and I would be grateful if the message would go forth through whatever media are present in the room, there is actually a duty on people who actually know something about this to come forward. I made that plea back in February 2017, and here is yet another variation of people not coming forward, perhaps, perhaps suppressing matters, here is a view being expressed in relation to a situation where an individual has completely waived their privilege.

“If people say they have a privilege but they know something, I would much rather know that, than for them to simply, if it is the case, sit in their office blocks and not come to the Tribunal and not communicate.

“There is a website. communicate. There is a phone line. It is manned. It will be manned indeed all day on Saturday. This matter is coming close to an end. And I regard it as not a legal obligation, but much, much more serious than that: a patriotic obligation of people who know something to come forward so that the people of Ireland aren’t left in the daft situation that people who know things in the journalistic profession have not come forward to speak, but, nonetheless, will be able to write articles about what happened to them in the aftermath of the Tribunal report appearing.

“Now, in the event that that happens, the people of Ireland will no doubt take their own view as to the credibility of the persons who do that and that may indeed cause damage to the media outlets who may be involved in this, and I don’t know if they are or not, much worse than any libel action on earth; in other words, people simply stop trusting journalists. And it is important that they do, because journalists fulfil an extremely important function within our society and one which personally I value very highly.”

Mr Ferry later told Judge Charleton that “there’s no other names that he [Supt Taylor] wishes to add to the list”.

Judge Charleton said it wasn’t “a question of wishing. It’s a question of actually assisting in this process”.

Mr Ferry repeated there were no other journalists’ named to be added to Supt Taylor’s list but he confirmed for the judge that Supt Taylor didn’t brief editors or newsrooms directly – he claims he simply told certain journalists.

As Mr Kierans wouldn’t tell the tribunal which newsrooms he believed were “peddled” the matters concerning Sgt McCabe and Ms D, Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal, had the following exchange with Mr Kierans.

Leader: “I just wonder if I could ask you the question in another way. The Tribunal knows that DMG Media [Mail] was aware of this story from the evidence Debbie McCann has given to the Tribunal; the Tribunal also knows that Independent News and Media was aware of the story from evidence given by Mr [Paul] Williams; the Tribunal also knows the Irish Times was aware of the story from Mr [Conor] Lally’s evidence; and there was also, Mr [Michael] O’Toole was aware of the story who I think is The Star?”

Kierans: “Yeah.”

Leader: “The Daily Star?”

Kierans: “Mm-hmm.”

Leader: “And then we have Ms [Eavan] Murray’s evidence from The Sun?”

Kierans: “The Sun.”

Leader: “Are there any other newsrooms that the Tribunal should be aware of?”

Kierans: “Not that I’m aware of, no.”

Leader: “All right. Thank you very much.”

Judge Peter Charleton is due to publish his report in October. He examined allegations made by former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor that he was instructed by former Commissioner Martin Callinan, with the knowledge of then Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, to convey to journalists that an investigation into the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe  was the “root cause” of Sgt McCabe’s whistleblowing. The DPP ruled Ms D’s allegation had no foundation in April 2007 while Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan both deny Supt Taylor’s claims.

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Daily Star

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: Lorraine and Maurice McCabe; Supt Dave Taylor, Eavan Murray and Fergus O’Shea

Reporters from Ireland’s three main ‘red top’ tabloids gave evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal: Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun; Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star; and Cathal McMahon, formerly of the Irish Mirror.

Eavan Murray, of The Irish Sun, gave evidence as she visited the D house in early 2014 and, after the D family told the tribunal about this visit, Supt Dave Taylor confirmed that she was one of the journalists he negatively briefed about Ms D and Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, gave evidence as he was one of the initial nine journalists named by Supt Taylor as having been negatively briefed by him. Mr O’Toole didn’t physically visit the D house in early 2014 but the tribunal heard he did make contact with Mr D via Facebook around that time – according to Mr D.

Cathal McMahon, formerly of the Irish Mirror, also gave evidence after the Irish Mirror‘s editor John Kierans told its investigators that Mr McMahon came to him about the Ms D matter and Sgt McCabe in early 2014.

As Mr McMahon was in the witness box, counsel for Supt Taylor said Mr McMahon was also a journalist whom he negatively briefed. The tribunal heard Supt Taylor didn’t include him in the original list as he was no longer working as a journalist at the time.

Ms Murray, Mr O’Toole and Mr McMahon all deny being negatively briefed by Supt Taylor.

Following on from Mr McMahon’s evidence, the editor of the Irish Mirror John Kierans answered questions in the tribunal while The Irish Sun‘s former deputy head of news Fergus O’Shea also gave evidence, following on from Ms Murray’s evidence.

Eavan Murray started working as a journalist in the Sunday World in Belfast in 2006, after having worked in social services.

She later worked with the Star on Sunday in Dublin, the Irish News of the World, the Irish Daily Mirror and then went back to the Sunday World in Belfast.

In November 2013, she took up a full-time position as a news reporter with the Irish Sun in Dublin and she told the tribunal it wasn’t until early 2014 that she first came in contact with Supt Taylor at a murder scene.

Ms Murray’s first phone contact with Supt Taylor was on February 10, 2014, and the tribunal heard this contact came about because the Irish Sun‘s crime editor Stephen Breen was going on holidays and, while he was away, he suggested she make contact with Supt Taylor in order to be on the Garda Press Office mailing list.

Ms Murray would go on to have extensive contacts with Supt Taylor – especially after he was moved out of the Garda Press Office to the Traffic department in Dublin Castle in June 2014.

The tribunal heard that billing records show Supt Taylor had 11,000 communications with journalists between September 2014 and December 2014 – a quarter (2,800) of these were with Ms Murray; while 190 were with John Mooney, of The Sunday Times, and 17 were with Juno McEnroe, of the Irish Examiner.

Ms Murray remained in regular contact with Supt Taylor until he was arrested and suspended in May 2015, the tribunal heard.

However, these communications are not central to the terms of reference of the Disclosures Tribunal as its chairman Judge Peter Charleton is looking at what occurred during the time period of the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe which, according to the former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Taylor, took place from mid-2013 until the day the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned in March 2014.

[Ms Murray said that from September 2014 onwards her communications with Supt Taylor increased after he asked her for her help with his college work and thesis – which she agreed to. Supt Taylor was studying for a Masters in Political Communication at the time at Dublin City University]

Evidence given to the tribunal via reports from Forensic Science Northern Ireland – which studied the phones, iPads and laptops recovered by the tribunal from Supt Taylor and former Garda Commissioners Martin Callinan and Nóirín O’Sullivan – showed Ms Murray helped Supt Taylor write an essay for his course in November 2014.

The essay was a study of how The Irish Sun versus The Irish Times covered the resignation of Martin Callinan. It included references to Ms Murray’s own reporting on the matter and concluded that The Irish Sun showed “a more balanced and in-depth scrutiny of the government’s role in the issue which was lacking in The Irish Times at times”.]

Supt Taylor’s communications with journalists – before and after he was moved out of the Garda Press Office in June 2014 – were the focus of a Garda criminal investigation and Ms Murray told the tribunal she was “deeply traumatised” by those events.

She also said it was somewhat as a consequence of that experience that she declined to tell the tribunal – after it stated writing to her from March 2017 – about her contacts with Supt Taylor and that she believed she hadn’t been negatively briefed.

The tribunal heard Ms Murray’s consistent reply to the tribunal, when it sent her letters seeking information, was:

“It is my practice as a journalist not to comment on news-gathering activities or sources. I believe that I have certain professional obligations in that regard. I note from your letter that the Tribunal will be considering the issue of journalistic privilege.”

[This is the same response John Mooney, of The Sunday Times – which, along with The Irish Sun, is owned by News Corp – gave to the tribunal when it wrote to him.]

It was put to Ms Murray that if it was the case that she wasn’t negatively briefed, she could have told the tribunal this without infringing on her journalistic privilege. She agreed.

She also said:

“In retrospect, I suppose I probably should have then… I was anxious at the time… I suppose the best way I can explain it, Chairman, it’s kind of counterintuitive to everything…I was deeply traumatised over everything that went on, to be honest…I can only tell you my feelings at the time. I couldn’t believe that I was being dragged into another situation.”


“I was adopting the position just that I felt, you know, a lot of journalists were taking. I mean, as I said before, it’s hugely counterintuitive to you when you’re being asked questions about your contacts with any guard, any source, you know…”

Even when Ms Murray, represented by solicitor Simon McAleese at the time, met with the tribunal’s investigators in October 2017 – at which point the tribunal had been told by the D family that Ms Murray had visited the D house in early 2014 – Ms Murray still “effectively said nothing”, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, told the tribunal.

It also heard an attempt had been made by Ms Murray to give the tribunal’s investigators information “off the record” but the investigators couldn’t accept this – and didn’t hear what this information would have been.

Eitherway, Ms Murray was categorical when she gave evidence that she wasn’t negatively briefed by Supt Taylor in early 2014, saying that, at that time, “I barely knew him at all”.

Ms Murray also claims that she never spoke to Supt Taylor before she visited the D house.

It’s been Supt Taylor’s evidence that he did know she (and separately Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday) was going to call to the D house and that he encouraged them both, separately, to go. Ms Murray told the tribunal Supt Taylor’s evidence on this is “not true”.

Supt Taylor has also told the tribunal that he would have contacted the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to relay to him what the journalists told him [ SuptTaylor].

He also told the tribunal that he confirmed for Ms Murray, and Ms McCann, that it was Mr D’s daughter who made the allegation against Sgt McCabe; and that the two female journalists knew of An Garda Siochana’s attitude towards Sgt McCabe because of “previous briefings”.

Ms Murray said all of Supt Taylor’s claims above were untrue.

But Ms Murray did confirm one claim made by Supt Taylor – that she did speak to him about her visit after it took place.

Until Ms Murray gave evidence, the tribunal was of the understanding that Ms Murray was the second journalist to visit the D house in early 2014 – after Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, and before Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent.

[When Mr Williams gave evidence, he said that when he went to the D house, the D family told him that Ms Murray had already called to the house]

But when Ms Murray gave evidence, she claimed she was at the D house after Mr Williams.

Ms Murray said the reason she believes she was there after Mr Williams is because, according to Ms Murray, Ms D’s parents spoke to her about a video interview Mr Williams had done with Ms D when he first met her on March 8, 2014.

She said:

“…they were quite anxious about the fact that she [Ms D] had done an interview to camera.”

Ms Murray claims she went to the D house prompted by the knowledge that the Irish Independent was going to publish a “huge exclusive” which was to “run over a number of days” about Sgt McCabe, Ms D and a child sex abuse allegation.

She said she first heard about this from the deputy news editor at The Irish Sun at the time, Fergus O’Shea, and that he told her to go to the D house.

Mr O’Shea, who left the Irish Sun in June 2017, told the tribunal he can’t recall sending Ms Murray to the D house.

He told the tribunal, in a statement:

“I remember Ms Murray coming to me and saying there may have been an allegation which was somewhat unclear made against Maurice McCabe and that the alleged victim might be willing to talk to us.”

Mr O’Shea also said he hadn’t heard of any allegation against Sgt McCabe prior to Ms Murray bringing it to his attention.

He also said he brought what Ms Murray said to the then editor Paul Clarkson and that they were wary of the matter as Sgt McCabe was a whistleblower.

Mr O’Shea said, because of a potential defamation case, “we just said leave it alone”. (Ms Murray told the tribunal she was not told not to go to the D house.)

Mr O’Shea said that a number of weeks later, he learned that Ms Murray had gone to the D house in Cavan. But, he said, he didn’t know how that visit came to occur.

He said:

“I mean, I was number two on the news desk, so depending who was working that day, it probably would have come from the person above me or from the editor. I find it hard to believe I would have made that decision on my own.”

Mr O’Shea also said he couldn’t recall ever hearing about the Irish Independent‘s pending articles on Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

He said:

“I can’t see how I would have got that information and I would have no problem sharing it here if I had. I guess there is a possibility that someone in the office got wind of it and in that way it came up and then was decided that she went, that is her recollection, that is fair enough, but it wasn’t through me.”

Ms Murray said:

“I don’t know how they [The Irish Sun] came to know about it, but it wouldn’t be unusual that we would hear that one newspaper has a big story, you know, it wouldn’t be unusual at all. I mean, particularly, I suppose, Paul Williams is a very accomplished and experienced man, he tends to, when he has big stories, they’re massive stories – you know, he had the Anglo tapes and things like that – so you pay attention.

“It wouldn’t be unusual for us to hear that another newspaper had a big story.”

Ms Murray also told the tribunal she never spoke to Mr Williams about his pending articles and that she doesn’t know him “at all”.

[Stephen Rae, then Group Editor of INM, told the tribunal, he was very surprised to learn the Irish Sun had heard about the pending articles in the Irish Independent]

Ms Murray said the purpose of her going up to the D house was to ensure that, if the Irish Independent, did publish a story, then The Irish Sun wouldn’t be wholly behind.

She said she had initially heard about the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe in either January or February of 2014 but she didn’t yet know Ms D’s identity.

The information came to her by way of a conversation with someone about the penalty points controversy and the person with whom Ms Murray was speaking was “sick” of hearing about the penalty points in the news.

Ms Murray also told the tribunal that she felt somewhat sorry for gardai at the time of the penalty points controversy, saying:

“I thought that maybe it was being politicised unfairly in some way. You know, I think I felt that — my job at the time, I was covering courts a huge amount of the time, and I can remember feeling quite sorry for regular guards, thinking that they are being sort of done down constantly by this one issue that I thought there was, you know — that was my feeling at the time.”

In a fresh statement to the tribunal – given just hours before she gave evidence – Ms Murray said the following about the Ms D allegation:

“It was at all relevant times something that was fairly well known in the world of Irish journalism.”

Asked about this, Ms Murray said:

“…the person actually, they didn’t go into a huge amount of detail about it, he just said that there was an allegation in the past about Maurice McCabe, there had been an allegation of sexual assault. But it didn’t go anywhere…”

Ms Murray said the exchange was a “very small interaction”.

She added:

“… my understanding was that this allegation was never proceeded with. I never really thought about it again, to be honest. And then when I heard that the Irish Independent had this rather massive exclusive, I thought that maybe there was something else to it. I thought that maybe there was another branch to it or maybe it had been reinvestigated or maybe it was a different allegation. I just didn’t know.”

Ms Murray said she obtained Ms D’s family name from a journalist but didn’t tell the tribunal their identity.

However, she confirmed it was neither Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, or Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star.

Of this person, she later said:

“This person would have been very good to me, really. I would have trusted his sources, to be honest, Chairman.”

Before setting off for the D house, she obtained the family home’s landline phone number via Directory Enquiries and called the D home, from The Irish Sun‘s Dublin office, and spoke with Mr D.

Ms Murray said:

“I think he said that they had — I don’t know what the exact term was but that Paul Williams, I think, was their preferential choice… Paul Williams being their preferential choice, you know. Somewhat alarmed when I said I was from the Sun.”

Ms Murray said Mr D then called her back, within minutes, and, according to Ms Murray, he “wasn’t hostile to the notion” that she would call to the house.

She added:

“I mean, he knew, he knew, he knew that I was down there to try and find information.”

Ms Murray also said she didn’t know that Ms McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday, had been up to the house and she didn’t learn about this until Mrs D told her – on the day she visited.

Of the visit to the D house – during which Ms Murray only met Ms D’s – Ms Murray said:

“…it was unusual in the sense that I was there in the capacity as a journalist, Chairman, but it turned into really a conversation just between three people. As soon as I got to the house, I felt quite guilty, to be honest, because they seemed very weary. I wouldn’t go so — like, they were very, very, very nice, but they just seemed exhausted, and I can remember just feeling quite sorry for them.

“… And I don’t mean that in any kind of a slur on Mr McCabe at all. But I can remember feeling quite guilty. It turned into a conversation just between three individuals and they asked me about my experience as reporting on people that tend to go public with accusations – and, again, I would just like to say I do not in any way mean that as anything against Maurice McCabe – and I gave them a fairly honest answer about that, as much as I could in my experience.

“People that go public about these things, it can seem like a good decision when you’re very young, in your early 20s, but in ten years’ time it may not be such a good decision; like, if you are married and you have children of your own.”

She also said:

“I can remember being somewhat surprised at the minor nature of it [Ms D’s allegation], and the thought crossed my mind that maybe it was worse and she hadn’t been truthful with her parents about that, because I just couldn’t understand how anyone — you couldn’t publish something like that, you could never publish something like that.”

And she said:

“I hope I’m not upsetting anyone by saying this, but my abiding memory is of Mrs D, that she was a very, very nice lady, but she said to me they themselves struggle with the fact that it was such a minor incident had such a massive affect on, allegedly on their daughter, you know, and she asked a child counsellor about it at one stage, why — how can such a minor incident affect someone so much.”

Ms Murray said she has never met Ms D but she did add her on Facebook after she met with her parents. However she said she never actually contacted Ms D.

After her visit to the D house, Ms Murray said the Irish Sun had no interest in the Ms D story and that:

“It was very much a kind of wait and see what the Irish Independent does and we will follow on afterwards. So I told — I did, I told — I can remember saying, look, they’re nice people and everything, I said, but there’s absolutely nothing here that we could ever publish.”

Ms Murray said after her visit, she told Supt Taylor about calling to the D house.

She said, at the time, Supt Taylor was annoyed with the then Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar for stating at a Road Safety Authority event in Dublin Castle that Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson were “distinguished”.

At the same event, Mr Varadkar called on Mr Callinan to withdraw the “disgusting” remark he made in relation to the garda whistleblowers at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee in January 2014.

Mr Varadkar made his “distinguished” comment on March 20, 2014.

When asked about her exchange with Supt Taylor in relation to this, Ms Murray couldn’t explain how or why their conversation went from Mr Varadkar’s “distinguished” comment to her visit to the D house.

She said:

“I have taken advices and I don’t regard this as privileged. It would have been some time after I went up there, I did say to him that I had been up there, I said I’d interviewed that family. I said I thought that they were very nice, the parents, I said, but there’s just absolutely no way you could ever publish something like that. He wasn’t too bothered.”

“… he was somewhat annoyed about comments Leo Varadkar had made, where he had said that the whistleblowers were distinguished, and I said I met that family, I went up to Cavan and met that family, I said. I actually said, do you realise that that was such a very minor allegation?

“…He wasn’t at all — he didn’t — he didn’t seem at all put out that I had no intention to publish.”

“And my recollection is, it was extremely brief and then he moved on to something else.”

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Ms Murray what preceded this exchange with Supt Taylor and asked her why she was discussing the Ms D matter with Supt Taylor at all.

They had this exchange:

McDowell: “Can I ask you, what preceded that? I mean, why were you discussing the allegation at all with him?”

Murray: “He was somewhat exercised by comments made by Leo Varadkar.”

McDowell: “Just hold on a second. The former Commissioner had said that the actions of the whistleblowers were ‘disgusting’.”

Murray: “Mm-hmm.”

McDowell: “And he’s told us that he meant the actions in disclosing information about third parties.”

Murray: “Yes.”

McDowell: “Minister Varadkar says in public: I would use the term ‘distinguished’ rather than ‘disgusting’ –”

Murray: “Yes.”

McDowell: “– referring to the penalty points matter, is that right?”

Murray: “Yes.”

McDowell: “So would you now tell me how, in that context, the allegation of sexual abuse arose in conversation between yourself and Superintendent Taylor?”

Murray: “He was giving out about Leo Varadkar.”

McDowell: “Yeah. And he was criticising, used the word ‘distinguished’ –”

Murray: “He just thought he was causing trouble for Commissioner Callinan.”

McDowell: “Yes. And I’m suggesting to you that the missing link here is that he must have said something to you about the sexual assault because you said –”

Murray: “No, I said to him: You know that allegation, I actually interviewed those people, there was nothing in it.”

McDowell: “How was that relevant to whether he was ‘distinguished’ rather than ‘disgusting’?”

Murray: “I suppose it’s kind of –”

McDowell: “You know that allegation you put to him, isn’t that right? You just said now: I said to him, you know that allegation, I actually interviewed those people, there’s nothing in it.”

Murray: “I said it’s just not something we could ever –”

McDowell:So you must have had some prior conversation about it?


McDowell: “I’m just trying to put sense on it.”

Murray: “Yeah.”

McDowell: “He says, you know, that man Varadkar is completely –”

Murray: “Causing trouble, yeah.”

McDowell: “– goes on and saying that he is distinguished. How do you get from that to a discussion about Ms D’s allegation of sexual assault?

Murray: “I said it to him. I said, I told him.”

McDowell: “You told him what?”

Murray: “That I had been up there to Cavan.”

McDowell: “To do what?”

Murray: “To interview –”

McDowell: “About what?”

Murray: “About this allegation. It was well-known –”

McDowell: “Were you telling him for the first time in all of your dealings that you had –”

Murray: “There hadn’t been a huge amount of dealings with him, though.”

McDowell: “No. But, I mean, the point is, that if you are saying this in response to his suggestion that the word ‘distinguished’ was inappropriate for Sergeant McCabe, it seems to me, and I’m just giving you an opportunity to deal with it, that you must have had a prior discussion –”

Murray:I didn’t.”

McDowell: “– or must have brought up the subject with him of the sexual allegation?”

Murray:I have no recollection of ever bringing that up with him, ever, or him bringing it up with me.”

Later, Ms Murray and Mr McDowell had this exchange:

McDowell: “…but if the conversation was running along that line and that ‘disgusting’ was the better word to apply to him, could that have been a trigger for you mentioning the sexual abuse allegation?

Murray: “Yeah. Yes. Yes, sir. Yes, Chairman. I suppose so.”

The tribunal saw Ms Murray was in phone contact with Supt Taylor on the day of Paul Williams’ first article about Ms D in the Irish Independent on April 12, 2014.

As she had seen the article that day, Ms Murray was asked if this call with Supt Taylor involved a discussion about Mr Williams’ article.

Ms Murray said she didn’t recall it being discussed.

In relation to Mr Williams’ first article, in which Ms D was anonymised and Sgt McCabe, according to Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, was “semi-anonymised”, Ms Murray said:

“Firstly, I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t go, when it didn’t run, and then when it finally did run I thought that was the only way they could have ever ran it.”

After Supt Taylor made a protected disclosure about the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe in September 2016, Ms Murray said she didn’t know it was related to him initially but she thought it sounded like him.

She later got a text from an unnamed friend who told her it was him.

She said she then called Supt Taylor.

Ms Murray told the tribunal:

“I was just kind of like, why are you doing this to yourself, how could you drag yourself into another investigation, kind of, and he was very sort of, trying to get me off the phone as quick as possible.”

She said she was subsequently shocked to learn that she was named by Supt Taylor as someone who had been negatively briefed, by him, about Sgt McCabe.

And she said when she met Supt Taylor on February 14 or 15 of this year, he never told her that he had named her.

She said:

“Out of the blue, a few months ago, I got a text off his wife [Michelle Taylor] asking me for my address and she sent me a present for my baby, but it was unusual in that he was six months old at this stage, and obviously I was curious about the Tribunal, I was — I was sort of in naive hope that maybe I wouldn’t be called, Chairman, to be honest, I was hoping, and I hadn’t heard from you in a long time, so I just was hoping it was just a bad memory, and so I was in Dublin for that week, my mother was in hospital, I used the opportunity to meet with a few people, but one of them being Superintendent Taylor, because, to be honest, my motivation in doing so was to find out just information, you know, I wanted to find out did he name me.

“And he, even though he was sitting across from me in a coffee shop, did not admit that he had given my name to this Tribunal. And I had said — I recall saying, oh, I don’t think they’re going to come looking for me now, I said I think that maybe they don’t really want me, and he said, oh, well, they might, they might, you know. He did not, he didn’t — and do you know, I suppose, the bizarre part was, the letter from yourselves must have actually literally been in the post because I got it just a couple of days later.”

Asked about her concern that Supt Taylor was going to name her, or had named her, Ms Murray said:

My fear was that he would use the fact that the Ds had named me to — named me and Debbie, that he would use that to bolster his own story. And I was correct.

John Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, put it to Ms Murray: “You were part of a smear campaign and you were being used as part of that when you were sent to Cavan?

Ms Murray replied: “I was not.”

They then had this exchange:

Ferry: “You’ve already said you spoke to some person after coming to Dublin, you spoke to Fergus O’Shea, you’ve denied speaking to David Taylor, and you’re saying you didn’t speak to anybody else, so it appears you didn’t carry out any checks and balances?”

Murray: “That’s not true.”

Ferry: “And you headed straight to Cavan on what you said would be a casual run up to Cavan, a nice day out?”

Murray: “I think by going to visit them, the direct source is actually the best kind of checks and balances I could have carried out.”

Ferry: “And I put it to you that the only reason why you would head off on such a mission is that the dogs in the street were talking about the sergeant and you thought there was truth to this allegation that was in the ether about him?”

Murray: “I didn’t.”

Ferry: “And I put to you that the only way that you had a conversation with Superintendent Taylor in around the 20th March referring back to Ms D is because you’d had a previous conversation with him?”

Murray: “I didn’t.”

Ferry: “And finally, I put it to you that the only way that you could have uttered the words as a journalist there was nothing you could ever have published, is because you had been given a very sinister version by the first person you spoke to in Dublin about the story behind Sergeant McCabe?”

Murray: “Okay. We have to disagree.”

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Daily Star

Previously: 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

Lorraine and Maurice McCabe during the Disclosures Tribunal

From top: headline over the February 20, 2017 article containing an interview with Ms D; Kevin O’Sullivan, then editor of the paper, and Conor Lally, the article’s author

This morning/afternoon.

The High Court, Dublin.

“On the 20th Februrary 2017, The Irish Times published an article in its print edition headed “Woman behind alleged complaint about McCabe wants her day before inquiry” and in its online edition headed “When can I get on with the rest of my life? – woman at the centre of the McCabe case“.

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”.

The Irish Times fully accepts the DPP’s determination and it was never intended for the article to suggest otherwise.

The Irish Times wishes to apologise to Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife and family for the great hurt and damage caused to them by the publication of this article, and has made appropriate amends to Sgt McCabe.”

A statement read out this afternoon by Cian Ferriter, a barrister acting for the Irish Times as part of a settlement of a defamation case by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

It was an appalling fantasy.

To coin a phrase.

The article in question:

Woman behind alleged complaint about McCabe wants her day before inquiry; Woman, now 24, who made sexual assault claim in 2006, says: ‘I’m sick of saying nothing, of biting my lip and it getting me absolutely nowhere’

By Conor Lally

Eleven years after she made an allegation of sexual assault against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, the woman whose complaint is at the centre of an alleged smear campaign wonders when she can begin the rest of her life.

In 2006, she made an allegation of sexual assault against the Cavan-based garda, which was investigated by An Garda. A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who decided that no further action was necessary.

Struggling with anxiety, depression and other issues in 2013, she was encouraged by her mother to speak to a Health Service Executive (HSE) counsellor, where she spoke about the original allegation but only, she says, when she was asked to do so.

“When she was taking it down, she said something – I don’t know her exact words; she said she’ll have to refer this on,” the woman said. “I remember straight away it got my back up. I was thinking: ‘Refer what on? This has been reported, this has been investigated and the DPP said insufficient evidence. That’s that, there’s nothing going to change, I have accepted that.’

“I remember coming out of the counselling session and I was more annoyed than when I went in; I remember thinking: ‘Stirring up shit for what?’ I knew by her she was going to report it whether I wanted to or not,” the woman said.

Now the 24-year-old college graduate says she wants her day before the Charleton Tribunal of Inquiry: “I would welcome it.” She also wants an apology from the child and family agency Tusla and the HSE over the handling of a counselling session she attended.

“I’m sick of saying nothing, of biting my lip and it getting me absolutely nowhere. We didn’t ask for this; for any of this to be brought up and put into the public [domain],” she told The Irish Times last week.

“We had no choice in this. I don’t want any attention. I want to get my career going, do a bit of travelling around the world and now this is thrown up,” she said, adding that her attitude had hardened watching the media coverage over the past 10 days.

Public statement

The report was made by the counsellor, but the HSE says a cut-and-paste error was subsequently made to it that incorrectly claimed the woman had alleged she had suffered digital penetration by McCabe when she was six years old.

Last week, Maurice McCabe and his wife, Lorraine, in a rare public statement, rejected both the original allegation made against him in 2006 and the subsequent corrupted version that was later included in the HSE/Tusla file.

During the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, established to inquire into McCabe’s allegations about Garda malpractice and incompetence, the couple said: “throughout the proceedings before that commission, Maurice, at the hands of the legal team representing the current [Garda] Commissioner, was cast in the role of culprit and/or defendant, and as a person making those complaints in bad faith and without cause.

“Because the 2004 Act prohibits under pain of criminal law the publication of the actual evidence tendered to such commissions, the public has little or no appreciation of what was done, and attempted to be done, to Maurice in the course of its hearings.

“For example, against the background of the current Tusla controversy, the entirely false allegation made of sexual abuse in 2006 against Maurice was repeatedly the subject of attempts at introduction in the proceedings for the purpose of discrediting his motives and testimony,” the couple said.

Speaking to The Irish Times, the woman was adamant that neither she nor anyone in her family had sought to make her complaint public, had never made the most damaging allegation levelled against McCabe, or had wanted any of it to be used to smear him. “At this point now I want answers and I want an apology,” she said of the Tusla-HSE apparent debacle, “But I want people to start accepting responsibility and to be held accountable.

“I just can’t fathom how this copy-and-paste error happened.

“How could you make that kind of an error? Why would you be copying and pasting anything into a report that you’re meant to be typing up? Where are your notes that you would have been typing from? I just can’t fathom how such a cock-up was made,” she said.

However, the clerical error made in 2013, compounded later by Tusla in 2014 when it followed up on the penetration allegation which should have already been removed from the file, should not now be used against her and her family, including her Garda sergeant father.

Sgt McCabe, she said, was not a well-known Garda whistleblower when the original complaint was made. Despite media reports to the contrary, the woman’s father was not involved in any dispute with McCabe, a Garda colleague, at the time, she said.

Administrative error

Last week, the HSE said an allegation of retrospective abuse was made against McCabe in July 2013, but that “an administrative error” was made a month later by a staff member of the HSE’s National Counselling Service. A corrected report was brought to the attention of Tusla and An Garda in May 2014. Following her 2013 Cavan counselling session, the woman went back to college. There, she went for “two or three” counselling sessions. Later, Tusla contacted her, offering more appointments. It wanted, it said, to review her file because the agency was under new management.

However, Tusla would not disclose specifically what they wanted to discuss, she said. She says she felt “bullied” into agreeing to an appointment date. However, she did not turn up for it because she was living in another part of the country at the time.

She saw little point, she said, in travelling back to Cavan for a review of allegations that she had already made to the Garda years earlier, and that the DPP had decided at the time did not warrant prosecution.

However, she insists that she would have gone to see Tusla officials if they had made it clear that they were investigating the more serious, but erroneous allegation of digital penetration that had by then made its way on to her file.

Nearly a year after she had attended the Cavan counselling session, she and her family became aware the Garda had received correspondence from the HSE which contained the line saying that she had lodged a claim of digital penetration against McCabe.

Her family immediately pointed out to the Garda that no such allegation had even been made. And the family believes it was their pointing out this mistake that resulted in the HSE and Tusla realising their mistake. However, Sgt McCabe says he similarly pointed out the errors.

“I just can’t fathom how such a cock-up was made, and then for Tusla trying to put the blame back on me saying ‘Well, you didn’t want to follow up matters’. They didn’t tell me what it was about.

“If they had told me they messed up, that there was a mishap with my name on it; do you not think I would have come up to sort it out? They never told me. As far as I was concerned, Tusla wanted to review an old case and I thought, ‘For what, to turn my life upside down again?’

“They aren’t accepting responsibility yet; they can apologise to Maurice McCabe, but they can’t apologise to me? I want answers. I’m not going to [accept] ‘Sure look, it was human error.’ No. Someone needs to stand up and start taking responsibility. I’m furious.”

The woman believes some sections of the media have heavily implied that she made a complaint against McCabe in December 2006 because her father was in dispute with him over a disciplinary charge – an allegation she rejects.

According to her account, some 11 months before the allegations were made against Sgt McCabe, her father and a number of other Garda members were off duty and at a funeral gathering in a pub in Co Cavan. There, they learned that a young local man had died by suicide and that his remains had just been found.

Unmarked car

The house where the suicide occurred was less than a mile from the pub where the off-duty gardaí had gathered. They went across the road to the local Garda station and took keys for an unmarked Garda car and drove to the house where the local man had just taken his life.

When they arrived, McCabe was present with two young gardaí, all three in an official capacity.

The young woman’s father and the other off-duty gardaí he was with comforted the family and spent some time with them, she said.

The following morning, the woman claims, it became clear that a local Garda member – not McCabe – had made a complaint about his colleagues taking the unmarked Garda car while off-duty and having been earlier in the pub.

Her family says that Garda member went to Sgt McCabe who then told the men who had taken the car that he had no choice but to take up the complaint. McCabe passed it to his superiors.

The woman’s father was transferred between two units. However, within months he was back where he had been, but in a more senior post, she said. She rejected charges that she had made her complaint against McCabe as an act of retaliation.

She said: “To try and say ‘well, it was your father who put you up to it . . . ‘ It’s horrific to hear that. Why would he have put me through [that]?” Her father “was not a vindictive man”. He had resumed his duties, and got on with his life. He did not lodge her complaint, either, she said.

In December 2006, she said, she had come home one day from school at lunchtime with a friend, following a period “of deep distress”. There, she made allegations to her parents about events she claimed had happened seven years before.

Her father did contact his superiors in the Garda by phone to inform them what his daughter was alleging, she said. However, it was she who made the official complaint.

Two gardaí came to her house the following day. Her parents were not present when the statement was made.

Instead, they absented themselves. A family friend sat with her as she made her allegations. A statement was prepared. Seven months later, the Garda informed her that a file had been sent to the DPP, who subsequently decided against prosecution.

Her family had never got sight of the correspondence from the DPP and so could not comment on the veracity of reports suggesting the complaint outlined may not constitute a criminal offence even if it had taken place, she said.

DPP decision

Three months or so afterwards she was told that the DPP would not prosecute. Then 15 years old, she said she asked her mother to drive her to the town where Sgt McCabe was stationed because she “wanted to see him”. When they arrived they sat in their car.

On seeing McCabe, she says she jumped out of the vehicle and confronted him. She says a Garda member came out of the station to deal with her. “[He] said ‘Look it, calm yourself down. This isn’t doing you any good,'” she said.

“Not once have we been apologised to. Not once have we been contacted by phone, by letter, by anyone to say ‘We are so sorry to have involved you in all of this, to have to put you in the spotlight.’ I don’t want any of this. When am I going to be allowed to get on with my life?” she asked.

Irish Times, February 20, 2017

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times Part 1

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Gemma O’Doherty: They Are Laughing At You


Settles, eh?

Apologised to in open court and awarded ‘appropriate amends’, surely?

Meanwhile…back in the day:

Good times tweets from Conor Lally.

What a complete character he is.

From top: Sgt Maurice McCabe, Michael Clifford, Supt Dave Taylor (right panel) and Tim Vaughan

During the Disclosures Tribunal, the matter of the protection of media sources was discussed at length.

Justice Peter Charleton told the tribunal that he had grown up following the Watergate hearings, which took place in the summer of 1973.

The example of Deep Throat, Bob Woodward’s source for his and fellow reporter Carl Bernstein’s exposés in The Washington Post, was cited throughout by the judge and also many of the witnesses.

However, often for opposing reasons.

Deep Throat (Mark Felt) divulged his role in 2012, freeing the two reporters to confirm his identity.

Former Garda Press Officer Supt Dave Taylor, who said he negatively briefed journalists at the behest of senior gardai, has sought similar confirmation from his alleged former sources.

In fact, it is claimed, to not do so was and is causing him untold damage.

One witness, who said there was no exceptions to when a source’s identity could be revealed or confirmed ,was asked:

Did Woodward and Bernstein get it wrong?

Another witness, a newspaper editor, actually used Mr Felt as an example to explain why he wouldn’t discuss anything about anybody.

He said:

 “Bob Woodward said that he agreed with Mark Felt that the only way that Mark Felt would never be identified as a possible source in the future was to ensure that he would tell no one that they knew each other in any way or that Bob Woodward knew anybody in the FBI.”

Tim Vaughan, former editor of the Irish Examiner, who said he too had followed the Watergate saga growing up, told the tribunal

It isn’t the source’s right to erode the journalist’s right to protect their source.

During Mr Vaughan’s editorship of the Irish Examiner, which ended in 2016, Michael Clifford was the newspaper’s ‘special correspondent’.

Mr Clifford confirmed that Supt. Dave Taylor was a source of his.

But there was a problem

While Mark Felt’s motives to help remove a president (a grievance over a lost promotion among them) were never entirely pure, he was at least attempting to help establish the truth.

Supt Taylor’s motivation for turning against his bosses and his actions since then are simply unfathomable.

He is, to put it mildly, no Deep Throat.

Mr Clifford gave evidence about a week after three of his colleagues – political correspondent Juno McEnroe, security correspondent Cormac O’Keeffe and political editor Daniel McConnell – gave evidence. (full report in part 1 here)

Mr Clifford, who wrote the book A Force For Justice – The Maurice McCabe Story which was published last September, was named by  Supt Taylor – along with RTÉ Prime Time’s Katie Hannon – as being a journalist whom he didn’t negatively brief about Garda whistleblower Sgt McCabe.

Specifically, Supt Taylor said Mr Clifford and Ms Hannon were “clearly writing articles and programmes that were sympathetic to Sergeant McCabe”.

Mr Clifford began writing about Sgt McCabe – without naming him – in May 2013, after an internal Garda investigation into the penalty points controversy had been published by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony.

The following year, in 2014, he heard about a rumour concerning Sgt McCabe on three different occasions.

Interestingly, unlike other previous witnesses who had heard the rumour and satisfied themselves it wasn’t true, Mr Clifford was suspicious from the off.

The first occasion Mr Clifford heard the rumour was during a conversation, in “early 2014”, with someone Mr Clifford described as a “source” who wasn’t a guard.

Mr Clifford recalled:

“I mentioned something to the effect about Maurice McCabe, there’s a lot to that story, a lot more than has come out, and he said words to the effect that there is an issue there, and I asked him what the issue was and he said there had been an allegation of child sexual abuse. He got this, he told me, locally in Cavan. He said the general feeling was that he wasn’t guilty or responsible for the allegation, that there wasn’t any foundation to it, but, the way he put it is, that is still there, it’s still hanging over him.”

After this conversation, Mr Clifford said he was “floored”, made inquiries and satisfied himself there was no foundation to the allegation.

But at this point he was suspicious the allegation was “being used to attack Sergeant McCabe on the basis of what he was bringing forward.”

He said:

“I had been following the story, it didn’t seem to be getting much traction in the media in general and then out of the blue this thing comes along. I then made inquiries about it, I made inquiries in Cavan. I made — I satisfied myself as to the veracity of what the story was.

“I also became aware that Sergeant McCabe’s legal team were aware of this issue and to be honest with you I found that very reassuring, to the extent that Mr McDowell, for instance, is a public figure and the idea that he would have been involved or allowed himself to be used in any way to run an agenda by somebody who had these kind of issues in their background, was beyond any sort of belief as far as I could see.

“But I also satisfied myself as to what actually happened; I did not know the detail that has emerged here in the Tribunal but the general gist of that to a large extent, I satisfied myself that that was the case.”

The second occasion the allegation was brought to Mr Clifford’s attention was during a telephone conversation with someone whom Mr Clifford said, “is very familiar with politics and on the basis of my own conversations with him he has a friendship at the very least with a senior garda”.

Mr Clifford told the tribunal the senior guard is not a garda whom the tribunal has been examining.

This second man bluntly told Mr Clifford “You know your man McCabe is a kiddie fiddler”.

Mr Clifford felt the man’s information was coming from his Garda friend.

He told the tribunal:

“I explained to him that I had heard that, I had checked it out, there was no truth to it. He sounded sceptical in my response. The only connection there, and as I say I don’t know this but this would just be a suspicion on a previous occasion, that particular individual had relayed to me about a friend of his, a senior garda who had described myself in disparaging terms and on that basis I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that this is where it was coming from when he mentioned it to me about Sergeant McCabe.”

Mr Clifford didn’t disclose the identities of the two people who spoke to him about Sgt McCabe.

He told Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal, that he’s satisfied that even if he did identify the two men, it wouldn’t assist the tribunal.

The third occasion the allegation against Sgt McCabe was raised with Mr Clifford was when his then editor Tim Vaughan contacted him, in the second half of 2014.

Mr Clifford recalled:

“He rang me and he said — he sounded slightly, not alarmed but slightly urgent and he said that had it come to him, somebody had suggested to him that Maurice McCabe was involved in these issues and I reassured him, I said Tim, I have come across it, there’s no truth to it, I think it’s actually being used against the man, and that was it. And to the best of my knowledge he accepted my explanation entirely and certainly didn’t affect work that the Irish Examiner did thereafter on this story.”

Mr Vaughan told the tribunal he had heard a rumour about a sexual assault allegation against Sgt McCabe during a phone conversation with a contact “who knows about Dublin media”. Mr Vaughan said this contact didn’t know where the rumour came from, while the tribunal didn’t hear the identity of this contact.

Mr Clifford said as he works from home, he couldn’t recall any specific conversation with other journalists about the allegation but he definitely had as sense it was in the “ether” in 2016.

This was the same year Mr Clifford met Supt Taylor for the first time.

Mr Clifford told the tribunal that he got a phone call from Supt Taylor in either late May or early June of 2016, on foot of an article Mr Clifford had written about the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation which mentioned Supt Taylor.

[In May 2016, Mr Clifford, and separately Ms Hannon, on RTÉ’s Prime Time, reported on the legal strategy used by the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015. Separately, Supt Taylor had been arrested and suspended in May 2015 for allegedly leaking material to the press when he was no longer press officer. The DPP ruled against a prosecution. But at the tribunal, Supt Taylor accepted he had leaked material to the press. Supt Taylor went back to work in the Traffic Department in February 2017]

Mr Clifford had never met Supt Taylor at this point.

He explained:

“I got a phone call, I remember it because I was in my mother’s house in Cork, and it must have been a Saturday evening. He said ‘Dave Taylor here’, for a couple of seconds I couldn’t place him, then he said ‘thanks for the mention in the piece’ and then I realised who I was talking to. And we had a bit of a conversation, he made some comments about Nóirín O’Sullivan and the difficulties she was having at the time and how, in his opinion, she wasn’t very good for the Gardaí or whatever.

“And he also made comments about Sergeant McCabe, and he said what Maurice was going through, and he referenced him twice I think as Maurice, which I found — I thought it was amusing or ironic, the right words, because as far as I was concerned he had been Garda HQ, which had, I believed, a very hostile attitude towards Maurice McCabe and now he was speaking about him in these terms, but that was the nature of it.

“And anyway, that phone call didn’t last too long and he suggested going for a cup of coffee sometime and I said grand, and I left it at that. And to be honest with you I wasn’t at that point that interested in meeting him for a cup of coffee and I just left it at that on a cordial basis.

Mr Clifford believes he then met Supt Taylor in either late August or early September 2016 and then a second time on the first weekend of October 2016.

Of their first meeting, Mr Clifford said he can’t recall who called whom, but either way, Supt Taylor suggested they meet at his home.

This came about after Mr Clifford had heard from a source that Supt Taylor’s wife Michelle had met with Sgt McCabe.

Mr Clifford said there were “two prongs” to their meeting. The first was the poor financial situation Supt Taylor and his family were in because of his suspension and the second was how Supt Taylor came to be in this position.

Mr Clifford said Supt Taylor conveyed that “the central character in that was Nóirín O’Sullivan”.

He said Supt Taylor claimed that either Garda HQ or Mr O’Sullivan were obsessed with Sgt McCabe and his highlighting of issues within An Garda Síochána; he said Supt Taylor didn’t have a good working relationship with Ms O’Sullivan; and he said Supt Taylor said he and Martin Callinan had, at one point, suspected she was leaking to the media “in the form that I think is more familiar to political or business world of one person briefing against another”.

Mr Clifford and Judge Charleton spoke about this for some time:

Clifford: “…he suggested that Nóirín O’Sullivan, that they thought — sorry, that himself and Martin Callinan were under the impression or they thought that Nóirín O’Sullivan was leaking stuff to the media, effectively briefing the deputy commissioner, effectively briefing against the Commissioner. Again, this is — he didn’t give an example of that, or anything, but he threw that in, and, as I say, I only recall that because that is from the near-contemporaneous note I had.”

Charleton: “Yes. Well, was he trying to give you the impression that Garda Headquarters was some a kind of a viper pit where everyone was against everybody else and trying to destroy the other?”

Clifford: “He wouldn’t have to give me that impression, Chairman, I’d say I probably had that impression myself, but there was an element of that there.”

Charleton: “All right. Well, can we just turn to the note, if you wouldn’t mind, it’s 6628, and would you mind just telling me where there is any reference to that, because it’s not obvious to me. This is your note, what you typed up on your PC.”

Clifford: “Sorry, yeah, the reference down there:

“MC and DT suspected she was releasing info to us how divided they were going back a number of years.”

Charleton: “That is it, yes. So that is what that means?”

Clifford: “Yes, that is my —

Charleton: “I don’t get — in a way, I don’t get this, and on a human level I am finding this hard to understand, Mr Clifford, that everything seems to be about PR and what the newspapers are saying, as opposed to what you are doing yourself, in reality.”

Clifford: “Oh, I think that theme runs through the whole situation, to be quite honest with you.”

Mr Clifford told the tribunal that he had no basis on which to believe anything of what Supt Taylor was telling him was true, but it was what Supt Taylor told him.

Mr Clifford also said Supt Taylor said, on the day Mr Callinan resigned, he [Mr Callinan] asked Supt Taylor to get a letter to RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Williams about the taping of telephone conversations in Garda stations.

He said Mr Callinan made the request after he had stepped down.

Mr Clifford said:

“…he says he was asked to do that by Martin Callinan, even though Martin Callinan had just resigned that morning, he placed huge emphasis on Nóirín O’Sullivan’s reaction to him doing that. He said that — he said she was very annoyed, to put it at its mildest, but his big thing that was her position was that he was now working for her as she was Commissioner and he shouldn’t have been doing something for Martin Callinan. That is the way he framed whatever happened there but he certainly gave the emphasis that that signalled a rapid deterioration in any relationship he had with Nóirín O’Sullivan, by his account.”

Mr Clifford said, on this occasion, Supt Taylor mostly talked about himself.

As for any alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, Mr Clifford said:

The general gist of it was that Martin Callinan would send him a text or a message and that — which would be derogatory towards Sergeant McCabe in one form or another, and he passed this on, I believe he said to other senior officers and to the media. I cannot tell you 100 percent that he said he texted the media or spoke to them verbally. I understand that he said he told me he only spoke verbally, I have no recollection of that. But I can’t be 100 percent of that.

“But what I am absolutely sure of, in terms of that conversation, is the centrality of these text messages, because his thesis, if you want to call it that, was that the whole investigation, suspension of him from his job was associated with the fact that then Commissioner O’Sullivan wanted to get her hands on his phone because that was what you might call the smoking gun in terms of anything to link her to the type of attitudes there was to Maurice McCabe back in ’13 and ’14, and he effectively blamed his demise as such on that issue, and he put forward the case that it was all linked to the Commissioner, through her husband, who was on the investigation team, he described it at the time as heading it up, getting her hands on that phone to effectively destroy any evidence linking her to this campaign that he says was going on.”

Mr Clifford next met Supt Taylor on the first weekend of October in 2016.

By this stage, Supt Taylor, and Sgt McCabe, had made separate protected disclosures – after Supt Taylor told him on September 20, 2016, that he had “destroyed” Sgt McCabe via a smear campaign.

On this second occasion, Mr Clifford asked Supt Taylor to clarify three matters based on information he had acquired elsewhere – that texts had been used as part of the alleged smear campaign, that an intelligence file had been created on Sgt McCabe in Garda HQ; and that somebody had been appointed to monitor Sgt McCabe’s activity on Pulse.

Mr Clifford said Supt Taylor confirmed all three of these were correct.

He also said Supt Taylor definitely conveyed to Mr Clifford that phones which had been seized from him – during the investigation into him – were “key to everything”.

[The tribunal has since heard that the phones seized from Supt Taylor were not relevant to the time period when the alleged smear campaign took place. They, instead, were from after that time period. And the phones that were relevant to that time period were never recovered by the tribunal but were not in possession of An Garda Síochána. Instead, they were in Supt Taylor’s own possession but he lost them.]

Asked specifically what he could recall of his conversation with Supt Taylor about texts during their meeting in October 2016, Mr Clifford said:

“The impression I got was that these text messages were sent, as I understood it, to senior officers or senior management rather than one individual. I wasn’t 100 percent sure on that. Neither was I 100 percent sure that they were sent to journalists. But the emphasis that was put on them was that these text messages contain effectively statements, language, whatever, that shows that this campaign he was claiming was run was being run and, therefore, people who would have been informed had knowledge of it.

“That was the general gist of where I interpreted him as coming from with the whole issue around text messages. As I say, I can’t say definitively that he said he sent texts to journalists but he most definitely said that he sent texts of this nature to Nóirín O’Sullivan and, my recollection, to senior management in the Gardaí.”

[Supt Taylor has denied to the tribunal that he indicated this to Mr Clifford. He also denies indicating the same thing to Sgt McCabe and Independents 4 Change TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace]

Mr Clifford also told the tribunal that the manner in which Supt Taylor told him about the seizure of his phones seemed “practised”.

He said:

“He effectively made a case or presented a thesis, if you want to put it that way. I also, and again this is only my speculation, on the basis it was done, it was either practised or else he had done a similar exercise with people prior to me. That was my impression.

“If I could put it this way: The presentation of that case, the manner in which it was done, it struck me that he had either practiced this or he had made a similar presentation to perhaps other journalists, perhaps other people, I don’t know, that was an impression that I came away with from that.”

The judge clarified with Mr Clifford: “What you are saying is, it wasn’t improvised out, it seems to be a presentation like you would get a presentation like slides or whatever?”

Mr Clifford explained again:

“Yeah. Well, obviously, Chairman, not as professional as that, but just in terms of the general tenor. For example, there was some paperwork there, it was on the coffee table, and you know, small stacks at right angles, as would you, you know, and just the whole thrust of what he was saying, as I say, it wasn’t something that struck me as being presented simultaneously or off the top of his head kind of thing.”

Mr Clifford couldn’t recall whether it was during the first or second meeting that Supt Taylor told him he would have conveyed the Ms D allegation – which had been categorically dismissed by the DPP in 2017 – to journalists in 2013/2014 to the effect that there was “no smoke without fire”.

[Curiously, this is something Supt Taylor also told the tribunal’s investigators in an interview, but something he later backtracked on when he gave evidence]

In May 2017, Mr Clifford emailed Supt Taylor a section of his book. In his email, Mr Clifford wrote:

This is the chapter I was telling you about, where you enter the McCabe story. See what you think, particularly in terms of factual accuracy.
Thanks, talk soon.”

In the excerpt sent to Supt Taylor, there were the flowing the lines about Supt Taylor’s meeting with Sgt McCabe on September 20, 2016:

Within days, Supt Taylor got back to Mr Clifford.

He sent him one correction – to say he hadn’t been interviewed by the Children’s Ombudsman in relation to the leaking of material concerning Roma children to the press in October 2013 – and that was it.

Supt Taylor never corrected Mr Clifford on his account of his meeting with  Sgt McCabe.

Even after the publication of his book, Supt Taylor still never told Mr Clifford that what he wrote was incorrect.

When Supt Taylor gave evidence, he said he scanned the extract and didn’t read it line by line.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for Supt Taylor, put it to Mr Clifford that for Supt Taylor to have sent disparaging texts about Sgt McCabe to journalists would defeat the purpose of trying to influence the journalists “off the record”.

Mr Clifford said:

“That’s correct. With the proviso that it would depend on how close your relationship might have been with a particular journalist.”

Conor Dignam SC, for An Garda Síochána, asked Mr Clifford about his reports in the Irish Examiner on October 4, 2016, about the protected disclosures made by Supt Taylor and Sgt McCabe.

In an analysis piece, Mr Clifford wrote:

“The disclosures allege that there was a concerted campaign amongst senior management in the force to destroy the character of a whistleblower. There were different strands to the alleged campaign, including the dissemination of text messages containing falsehoods about the officer in question, briefing of elements of the media and even the creation of an intelligence file on the officer.”

The tribunal heard the Irish Examiner‘s coverage didn’t yield any complaints from Supt Taylor.

Mr Dignam took issue with the use of the word “revelations” in the newspaper’s coverage that day but Mr Clifford pointed out the “revelation” was the fact protected disclosures had been made, as opposed to the content of the disclosures.

Asked if he checked the veracity of the claims which he reported, Mr Clifford told Mr Dignam:

“There was very little I could do in that regard. In terms of publishing that and feeling justified in publishing it, there are a couple of things in that regard that I would say: First of all, this is — in publishing that, it’s a process whereby it goes through the editorial hierarchy inside in the Examiner, which backed up my decision that this was in the public interest and that this should have been published.

“Then you are talking about the substance of the issue. In the first instance, this was unprecedented. You had a superintendent in An Garda Síochána nominally of good standing, was making a protected disclosure about what was occurring within the force. That of itself was completely unprecedented.

“Equally so, who he was incriminating in there. In the first instance he was incriminating himself. I don’t know even since the protected disclosure or anything of that nature has come in, have we ever had a scenario whereby somebody making it was incriminating and incriminating himself to the extent that he was admitting that he was involved in a smear campaign to effectively brand Sergeant McCabe as a paedophile and to do so for no other than to ingratiate himself to his boss or further his career.

“That is that element of it. The second element: The other person he incriminated was former Commissioner Callinan, somebody with whom he had a very good relationship, whom he looked up to and whom he regarded as something of a mentor.”

Mr Dignam asked Mr Clifford if the animus which Supt Taylor had shown towards Ms O’Sullivan caused him concern in publishing his articles in October 2016 about the protected disclosures.

Mr Clifford said:

“It certainly gave me pause for thought, but you have to put this into context; in many instances that I would come across and many instances of any nature for — the most obvious example is a tribunal, that, fortunately, Chairman, I don’t think you will be heading for the record of 13 years, but the Planning Tribunal — the Planning Tribunal, as I think we are aware, began over a grudge an individual had for his employer not providing a pension. That is the nature of these things.

“Now, absolutely, I took that into account, but as I was saying to you before, I balanced that against both the substance of the allegation in terms of my
knowledge over the previous three or four years, both the fact that it was self-incriminating and that it was also incriminating somebody to whom Mr. Taylor obviously looked up to.

“All scenarios like that in terms of publication, some sort of a balance has to be reached between suppressing information – and I was in possession of that information – and the fairness to everybody involved, and, in my opinion, that was achieved. It wasn’t just desirable to publish it, but it was necessary to publish it.”

It was put to Mr Clifford, by Mr Dignam, that the articles caused a “storm of controversy”, to which Mr Clifford replied:

“It certainly did, Mr Dignam, but I will also have to add to that, I’m afraid, that is not my responsibility.”

He later added:

“As a newsworthy event, as an event in which there is public interest, this was unprecedented.”

Just before Mr Clifford finished giving evidence, Mr Dignam pressed Mr Clifford on his source for information about the meeting which took place between Sgt McCabe, Supt Taylor and his wife Michelle.

Mr Clifford said:

“As far as I know, I’m the only person coming in here speaking in any detail about any interaction with David Taylor on the basis he has waived privilege. That is a precarious road to go down on the basis of identifying other sources, so I don’t want to go any further than that.”

Judge Charleton then stepped in and said this about journalists and privilege:

“I mean, at the end of the day, you know, Mr Dignam, again it’s a question of where we go on this, and I appreciate where you are coming from and the skill with which you are doing this, but, look, I am not asked in the terms of reference to comment on the media, whether the media did a good or bad job or whether paper will refuse ink, whether there should be higher standards in journalism. I mean, people can form their own view on that, and if they don’t like what they read in a paper, they can stop buying it, or if they don’t like what they hear on any particular form of media, they can just, you know, turn somewhere else.”

“…I mean, at the end of the day, what was said in the room, if you like, is between Michelle Taylor and David Taylor and Maurice McCabe and the various reports of that. I’m not going to be helped, one way or the other, by anything else. And vis-á-vis Mr. Clifford and David Taylor and the waiving of privilege, I understand where Mr. Clifford is coming from in that regard, but, you know, again it’s a question of where are the side alleys in this and should — if a hare runs down there, should I follow for the purpose of seeing if there is anything there. I would prefer to stick with what I am supposed to do.

I presume David Taylor and Michelle Taylor spoke to other people, I presume Maurice McCabe spoke to other people, I presume he got advice. The circumstances under which information stays confined is extremely rare. And this is more like an inkblot, to be quite frank; it lands on the page and it spreads out. You know, it’s not going to help me, because, at the end of the day, the primary evidence, instead of the dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi (go ndúirt bean eile) rud éigin, is the three people in the room and what was written down in consequence of it. So that is the reason I am not following it, Mr Dignam.”

Judge Charleton also said that he’s unlikely to come to any conclusion about Mr Clifford’s articles but indicated he may make a comment in his report about Paul Williams’ articles in the Irish Independent about Sgt McCabe and Ms D in April and May 2014.

He said:

“Mr Clifford, I have no issue with anything that you did, and, in any event, I have no — I have no power to report on it, one way or the other. It may be that something in relation to the articles concerning Maurice McCabe as an unnamed individual may call for some comment, but yours certainly don’t. So thank you for your assistance.”

The tribunal also heard neither Mr Callinan nor Ms O’Sullivan ever made any complaints to Mr Clifford or the Irish Examiner about Mr Clifford’s articles on the protected disclosures.

When questioning Mr Vaughan about sources and their protection, Justice Charleton introduced Watergate once more.

Justice Charleton said:

“I’m not sure in the Woodward and Bernstein example here [sources waiving privilege], what people are so worried about …”

Before wondering:

Unless, of course, things are much worse or there is some kind of a side agreement.”

They then had this exchange:

Charleton: “Well, in the Woodward and Bernstein example, do you think that erodes – source protection, for them to be talking about that, for the person in question to have come forward and said, ‘Yes, I was Deep Throat’ and ‘Yes, I am the source of the articles that appeared’, which exposed the then-president of the United States in a not very favourable fashion? I can’t see a — I can’t see that that bulwark is in any way breached or dissolved or even threatened. Can you?”

Vaughan: “I think we have to disagree.”

Charleton: “Fine. I’m happy to disagree with people, but you have to give me a reason for disagreeing. What is the reason? Just take the Woodward and Bernstein example, were they in the wrong? I mean, having done such huge credit to journalism, are we saying that somehow they are now anti-heroes, having been heroes? What is the reason? I am grasping around trying to fathom what it is. I am very willing to listen.”

Vaughan: “I wouldn’t — I would not, myself, if I had a source who was claiming or revealing that he was the source, I would not reveal that he was.”

Charleton: “And if the net result of that was he was going to be called a malicious perjurer and he was actually asking for your help, it’d be the same?

Vaughan: “I think you’ve got to — I would — it would be a difficult situation, but I think you’ve got to uphold the integrity of — I don’t think you can pick and choose in these matters.”

Charleton:Nobody is picking and choosing, no more than Woodward and Bernstein picked and chose. Maybe we have discussed it enough. But, I mean, is it possible that the reason has to be in those circumstances that there is some kind of a side agreement between the source that it’s only — I’m only going to go so far and you can’t say any more, or that the relationship has become too close so that it is no longer based on privilege, it is no longer based on journalistic ethics, but is based effectively on a relationship with the person who has outed himself as the source?

Vaughan: “Sorry, I don’t get your point there, Chairman.”

Charleton: “Well, I’m struggling on this one. Thanks for your help.”

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The irish Examiner: Part 2

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

Top: Michael McDowell (left) and Sgt Maurice McCabe. Above: From left Daniel McConnell, Juno McEnroe and Cormac O’Keefe

While examining whether media organisations colluded with senor gardai in the alleged smearing of whistleblower Maurice McCabe the tribunal heard from many indignant journalists.

Some resented being there (perfectly understandable if wrongly accused) while others treated the most innocent question with withering hostility.

Combined with this was the idea among a few witnesses, promoted by themselves, that their qualifications, status and perhaps the very future of Irish journalism were at stake.

The effect of all this was to produce testimony that could sound, even to counsel, as self-regarding and pretentious in the extreme.

Justice Charlelton and attending barristers, who may have thought they had witnessed hard to beat amour-propre in the Law Library, could only marvel wincingly.

Declining to confirm whether he had ever met Noirin O’Sullivan, Sebastian Hamilton, editor of the Irish Daily Mail, told the tribunal:

“…I say this as, you know, the third generation newspaper editor in my family. I believe that I should not ever have to discuss, and certainly shouldn’t be compelled to discuss, with anybody outside, who I meet, who I talk to…”

Challenged on why he didn’t follow up rumours regarding Ms D and Sgt McCabe, Fionnan Sheahan, editor of the Irish Independent, informed the tribunal:

“I have national media awards sitting on my desk because I pursued stories as a journalist which started off with basic hard facts….”

Another journalist described how he and colleagues took away certain allegations “and did some of our journalism” to check their veracity.

This suggested an alchemical process known to only a few had been achieved rather than what must have been just a few phone calls.

And it went on and on.

Indignation, convolution and some pretension would all be present during the questioning of journalists from the Irish Examiner.

Political correspondent Juno McEnroe, security correspondent Cormac O’Keeffe and political editor Daniel McConnell – all gave evidence because they were named by the former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor, who is waiving privilege, as having been negatively briefed by him in relation to Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Supt Taylor has told the tribunal he was instructed to negatively brief journalists about Sgt McCabe between mid-2013 up until former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s retirement in March 2014.

When they gave evidence, Mr McEnroe, Mr O’Keeffe and Mr McConnell all refused to confirm or deny whether they had been negatively briefed by Supt Taylor.

Eventually, at a later hearing, Judge Peter Charleton described the evidence of the three journalists as, at times, “mysterious”, before adding “but I am left essentially with Cormac O’Keeffe and trying to read what precisely he is saying”.

The judge’s focus on Mr O’Keeffe is not surprising given what the chairman heard from Mr McEnroe and Mr McConnell.

After the tribunal was set up, and its solicitor Elizabeth Mullan sent letters to various journalists and editors asking for people with any information relevant to the tribunal’s terms of reference, Mr McEnroe initially sent a letter of reply stating he had no such information.

In a subsequent interview with the tribunal’s investigators, Mr McEnroe was shown his letter and he confirmed the content of it was correct.

But when he came to give his evidence, he apologised for sending the initial letter in error, and told the judge he was actually claiming journalistic privilege and wouldn’t be confirming or denying if he had any relevant information for the tribunal.

He also said the letter that he had sent was a “rushed judgment”.

Asked specifically if he had any information of any attempt made by Supt Taylor to discredit Sgt McCabe by reference to an allegation of criminal misconduct, Mr McEnroe said:

“In relation to Superintendent Taylor, I cannot — I cannot answer questions in relation to that, for fear of maybe disclosing information that could be relating to a source.”

The tribunal heard that in an interview with its investigators, the following was put to Mr McEnroe:

“I have been asked whether I’m aware and whether I have any evidence of any attempt made by former Commissioner Callinan and/or former Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan or any other senior member of An Garda Síochána to discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe by reference to an allegation of criminal misconduct made against him, and if so, I have been asked to provide details and all attendant circumstances.”

He answered: “No, I am not.”

When he was questioned by Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, Mr McEnroe confirmed that he didn’t consider Supt Taylor as being a “senior member” of the gardaí when he answered that question.

Ms Leader went on and asked – based on Mr McEnroe saying he didn’t include Supt Taylor in his answer – if the tribunal could therefore not exclude the possibility that he does have some knowledge of some other gardaí (other than Mr Callinan or Ms O’Sullivan, or gardai of assistant commissioner rank) attempting to discredit Sgt McCabe.

Mr McEnroe asked Ms Leader to repeat the question several times.

Mr McEnroe did confirm that neither former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan nor his successor Noirin O’Sullivan, nor any politician, nor any journalist ever drew his attention to the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe.

He also said he didn’t become aware of the Ms D allegation until July 2014 – at which point Supt Taylor was supposedly finished his alleged smear campaign.

Mr McEnroe had the following exchange with Judge Charleton:

Charleton: “Maybe you’d actually speak plainly and maybe you’d just tell us did you become aware of an allegation of sexual misconduct against Sergeant McCabe at any time while David Taylor was Garda Press Officer in the 23 months ending on 10th June 2014.”

McEnroe: “No, I did not, Chairman.”

Charleton: “Well then, he couldn’t have negatively briefed you, could he?

McEnroe: “I’d rather not discuss any conversations I might have had with a source or sources.”

Charleton: “And David Taylor was a source?”

McEnroe: “I’d rather not discuss conversations I may have had with sources, Chairman, and I am trying to answer questions but I cannot go further than that.”

Charleton: “It seems to me you are not trying to answer questions at all. It seems to me that you are actually playing games, Mr McEnroe.”

McEnroe: “I reject that.”


Mr McEnroe did say that, at the time of Sgt McCabe’s appearance before the Public Accounts Committee in January 2014 – just a week after Mr Callinan appeared and made his “disgusting” remark – he could recall a question mark being raised over Sgt McCabe.

He said:

“…this was more gossip, prattle, that somebody raised a question-mark or a doubt around Sergeant McCabe”.

He added:

“I’ve tried to recall, and I don’t remember specifics that might have been suggested to me or were put to me. I just remember there was a question-mark raised, you know, whether — is he a trustworthy person, or something along those lines, and I cannot be specific.

“I didn’t take those suggestions very seriously because they weren’t coming to me in a briefing sense, they were coming, as I say, from gossip or from tittle-tattle or something that was just put out there or a side comment. But I did actually go and speak to people who would have met Sergeant McCabe and also people who knew Sergeant McCabe, and I satisfied myself that there didn’t seem to be something to be concerned about.”

Daniel McConnell, who is now political editor of the Irish Examiner was the former group political correspondent at Independent News and Media during the time period of the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

He left INM for the Irish Examiner in November 2015.

Mr McConnell wrote articles about the penalty points controversy, the Public Accounts Committee and Sgt McCabe on February 2, 2014, February 6, 2014,  and two articles on February 24, 2014.

Similarly to Mr McEnroe, he also told the tribunal he could neither confirm nor deny the claim that Supt Taylor negatively briefed him about Sgt McCabe.

Mr McConnell said around the time of the PAC hearings in January 2014, there was vague “journalistic chatter” about Sgt McCabe but he said it was “very low level, inconsequential, in my view, and certainly something that I never either investigated, looked at, because it wasn’t within my remit to do so”.

Supt Taylor claims he would have spoken negatively about Sgt McCabe to Mr McConnell several times around the time of the PAC hearings and that he did this over the phone.

The tribunal saw there was one mobile phone contact from Supt Taylor to Mr McConnell in early February 2014, one in the second week of March 2014, one in April 2014 and two in May.

Of his position, Mr McConnell said:

“Myself and Mr [Cormac] O’Keeffe, you know, I think would be very… would have very similar views in relation to the principle of journalistic privilege, the protection of sources and the protection of not only those but the gathering of information, and the statement I gave to the Tribunal investigators reflected that and it’s my position here today.”

Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, later had the following exchange with Mr McConnell:

Leader: “Source X gives you information?”

McConnell: “Mm-hmm.”

Leader: “Unnamed source in relation to something totally —”

McConnell: “We are speaking hypothetically here.”

Leader: “Totally unconnected to the Tribunal, hypothetical?”

McConnell: “Yes.”

Leader: “Source X says: I was doing something wrong when I gave you that information, I am telling you now that I was doing something wrong, I am waiving any protection, any privilege in relation to the giving of that information, all right?”

McConnell: “Mm-hmm.”

Leader: “And not only that, but I am waiving it publicly and I am saying all of this publicly, which is being reported on a daily basis publicly.”

McConnell: “Mm-hmm.”

Leader: “So does that source need any protection then, source X, leave Superintendent Taylor out of it?”

McConnell: “Sure. But I come from a position, Ms Leader, which is different.”

Leader: “No, I’m not asking you where you come from. I’m asking you does that source need protection?”

McConnell: “I’m asking from a journalist’s point of view, the person as a journalist who holds the privilege, it is therefore my obligation to the principle of journalistic privilege that I would not be in a position, even if a source, in my view, moved — or a perceived source or an alleged source moved to say — to waive that privilege, I would not be in a position, I feel, compelled by the obligation that I have to do my job, to start getting into a conversation that you are seeking to bring me into.”

Leader: “All right. I will ask you one more time. Does source X need any protection in those circumstances?”

McConnell:Yes, I think source X would need protection, on the basis that there are many unintended consequences as to how people might ask a question, where a question is coming from, and also the potential motivations of other people, that may seem irrelevant at a particular time but could become relevant at a later point in date — or a later point in time.”

Leader: “If that source is one of a group of people of 12,000, do you think that source needs protection? There are 12,000-plus Gardaí in this country.”

McConnell: I’’m just not willing to get into a position, Ms Leader, to start talking about or getting into a process of identifying people. I would like to be helpful to the Tribunal. I have done a lot of work in terms of meeting with investigators, providing my mobile phone number, studying the evidence at play. I would — am genuinely, Chairman, seeking to be helpful to the Tribunal. I just, however, feel compelled to not get into a position where I feel a source of mine or a root of information could therefore be identifiable, I’m afraid I feel compelled I cannot do that.”

Mr McConnell added:

“If, say, someone gave me information two or three years ago or four years ago, and I find myself in a place like a tribunal of inquiry and I am being put under pressure to reveal where information came from, they’d never speak to me ever again, other people would never speak to me again, because the conclusion would be that Daniel McConnell is someone, when pressure is brought to bear, would sing like a canary.

“I, unfortunately, am not someone who will sing like a canary. I am someone who will protect my sources and someone who believes in the principle of journalistic privilege, and I do so not to frustrate the work of a tribunal of inquiry, but I do so because I think there are competing — you know, there is a balance of rights and issues at play here.”

Cormac O’Keeffe, security correspondent at the Irish Examiner, also refused to confirm or deny whether he had been negatively briefed by Supt Taylor.

But, in contrast to Mr McEnroe and Mr McConnell, Mr O’Keeffe said he couldn’t tell the tribunal if he had heard of any rumours about Sgt McCabe in 2013/2014.

He said:

“Anything that I may have heard, that may have come from a source, I am unable to go into because it may or may not identify a source…”

However he went on to say:

“I don’t want to mislead the Tribunal, I don’t know when exactly I would have heard various things. I came to this story I think relatively late. It would have been — I think my first story that is in the — what was circulated, was towards the end of February 2014. So that would have been when I would have started covering it.

“So whatever I might have heard in terms of half snatches of conversation or bits of gossip that may have been circulating, it would have, I would imagine, have been February, March, April, May of 2014.

“…It’s very hard to be certain what I heard or trying to remember what I heard because I don’t remember clearly what I heard. I do remember an allegation of sexual abuse being mentioned, I think when I initially heard that there was no reference to a child, the first
reference I think was in relation to a sexual allegation generally.”

He also said it’s possible he heard this in 2013.

He said he heard it a number of times and that he would have heard it from journalists.

He said he was “very cautious” of the information.

Asked if he would have heard it from anybody else, Mr O’Keeffe said:

“I am unable to comment on anything that may or may not identify a source.”

Judge Charleton pointed out:

“I believe there’s about five million people in the country, that is to say south and west of the border, and if you take out 12,000 of them, and there aren’t 12,000 journalists, let’s suppose there’s a thousand journalists, really and truly, that is getting me nowhere. And you feel kind of we are inquiring, well, of course we are inquiring, but we are not at the point where you are anything close to revealing a source. Really and seriously, Mr O’Keeffe, you are not. Unless I’m missing something totally, and I am off the wall in my thinking.”

Mr O’Keeffe told the tribunal:

“To me, the tribunal has a very specific terms of reference, that it is trying to get to the bottom of it. My fear is that by answering the general question, I will, if not directly, I will indirectly be answering the more specific questions, and I can’t do that.”

Mr O’Keeffe also refused to either confirm or deny if he was negatively briefed by either Martin Callinan or Noirin O’Sullivan.

And he refused to state whether he got any information from any member of An Garda Síochána.

He also said:

I personally have nothing to hide, I did nothing wrong, but it’s the principle that is at stake. That this is a principle of not doing anything that jeopardises that crucial function that the press fulfil, and that is the free-flow of information from sources that is given in confidence and that is not to be interpreted as confirming whether Superintendent Taylor is or is not a source.”

Speaking directly to the judge, Mr O’Keeffe did confirm that he had previously spoken to Mr Callinan “very, very rarely”, he had met Ms O’Sullivan and he had regular contact with Supt Taylor – as he was the head of the Garda Press Office.

Just before he finished giving evidence, Mr O’Keeffe had the following exchange with Patrick Marrinan SC, for the tribunal:

Marrinan: “Do you believe that you have information that would impact on the workings of the Tribunal but you feel obliged to claim journalistic privilege?”

O’Keeffe: “I do feel obliged to claim journalistic privilege.”

Marrinan: “But in circumstances where otherwise you would have information to give to the Tribunal?”

O’Keeffe: “I feel I am unable to answer that question because my obligation is to protect journalistic privilege.”

Marrinan: “Well, can we exclude the possibility that you are claiming journalistic privilege just simply out of a point of principle, regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself here giving evidence to the Tribunal?

O’Keeffe: “I am not crystal clear on what you are asking me.”

Marrinan: “Can we exclude the possibility that you are merely, as a matter of course, claiming journalistic privilege here today?”

O’Keeffe: “I think it certainly would be fair to say that I am not coming up here to do something out of a matter of course. I have considered this at some length, I have attended the tribunal as well. This is a considered, and I would admit, it’s a considered position I have taken and it’s an obligation, it’s an obligation on journalists to protect sources.”

Before Mr O’Keeffe withdrew from the tribunal, the judge asked Mr O’Keeffe if he believed he had heard about a rumour concerning Sgt McCabe before the day Martin Callinan stood down from his role as Garda Commissioner, March 24, 2014.

Mr O’Keeffe said he doesn’t know.

He did confirm that, after he heard it, he did check it out but he said he couldn’t tell the tribunal who he checked it out with or what steps he took.

Judge Charleton said Mr O’Keeffe could have checked it out with his colleague Michael Clifford.

O’Keeffe: “Yes, I actually don’t know if I checked it with Mick at the time.”

Charleton: “And I am not asking you who you checked it with but do you remember who you checked it with?”

O’Keeffe: “Not clearly in terms of the various people I might have checked it with.”

They then had this exchange.

O’Keeffe: “I believe my position from the start was, this is not something I am going to follow.”

Charleton: “Right. Well, I have heard reasons why journalists don’t follow things and they all seem to me to be very sensible reasons, such as, for instance, look, there was an investigation, be it by social services or Gardaí, and you can’t publish allegations where, at the end of the day, the DPP says look, if this happened, it didn’t even amount to an assault, never mind a sexual assault.”

O’Keeffe: “I mean, it’s the worst or one of the worst conceivable allegations you could make against somebody, and what do you with it? Am I going to ring the person and put it to them? Am I going to circulate it amongst various people I might check it with, and then they go, hold on, this is Cormac O’Keeffe, he is checking out the story and this is what he said to me? So, from the get-go, you know, it’s not necessarily that I sat down and made a formal decision about it, but my instinct from the start was, this is not something I am going to pursue.

Charleton: “Yes. And that instinct was confirmed. How long did it take you to check things out?”

O’Keeffe: ” Well, given how hectic that period was between February, March, April and May when the Guerin Report was out, I’m pretty sure that it would have been in that time period.”

Charleton: “So are we talking about pretty much later on then? The 6th May 2014 is the Seán Guerin Report, critical of the previous Garda handling of the matter.”

O’Keeffe: “Yes.”

Charleton: “So would it have been after that time?”

O’Keeffe: “No, I would imagine it’s between that period of February and May, but I mean, I can’t be absolutely sure.”

Judge Charleton clarified with Mr O’Keeffe that he can’t actually say he was never negatively briefed.

Mr O’Keeffe replied: “Well, that is — certainly, in my evidence, I haven’t said that, no.”

Later on, the judge mentioned something that was “disturbing” him and that was the possibility that any journalist, in the future, could write something about the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe after having claimed privilege at the tribunal.

This is something the judge referred to on a number of occasions during the tribunal’s hearings.

Apart from the judge expressing his concern, it also seemed to be a lengthy and roundabout way of seeing if Mr O’Keeffe did actually have information relevant to the tribunal which wasn’t divulging.

The judge and Mr O’Keeffe had the following exchange.

Charleton: “One of the things that has been, I’d say the right word to use is disturbing me, is the whole notion that a journalist would come here and claim privilege and say, oh, I am not answering any of those questions, but are absolutely free, tomorrow morning, in whatever newspaper you care to mention, to write an article, yes, I was approached, and then, without naming your sources, just set out the fact that various members of the Gardaí came to you and said nasty things about Maurice McCabe.

“I mean, it seems absurd, it seems absolutely and utterly absurd that I’m sitting here trying to find stuff out and you are absolutely and completely at liberty to write such an article in the newspaper tomorrow, if you have any
information to that effect, but you are not going to tell me.”

O’Keeffe: “I have no intention of writing such an article.”

Charleton: “Well, do you have the material to write such an article?”

O’Keeffe: “Regarding revealing sources, absolutely not.”

Charleton: “No, not revealing sources, but even saying — look, you know, I have been reading newspapers all my life, and indeed it’s what I do at my lunch hour, is I read a newspaper, and I read several at the weekend so I very much enjoy newspapers and I respect those who are writing in them. But, I mean, do you actually have any information which would enable you to write a story saying, oh, I was approached or somebody told me something about Maurice McCabe? That is what Mr. Marrinan was asking you.”

O’Keeffe: “I am unable and I would not say or write anything that I believe could and would identify sources.”

Charleton: “No, I appreciate that, and we take that as an absolute given, we take that as an absolute given, as a bulwark which is never to be passed, taking that for the moment. But could you, in fact, write an article to the effect that people who you will not name approached you and told you things about Maurice McCabe, could you write such an article truthfully?”

O’Keeffe: “But this inquiry is set up for a very specific purpose with very specific named people in mind.”

Charleton: “Well, perhaps other unnamed people?”

O’Keeffe: “Well, –”

Charleton: “You see, the problem is, you would be entitled to write that article tomorrow, or let’s say the Tribunal report comes out in October and let’s suppose it exonerates everybody and then you know this but you are going to say, well, now is my chance to write this article, and then you write the article and it says that I got things wrong, and I am only a human being, after all, I can’t do anything more than assess what is there, I am not writing a work of fiction, but in the event that it was a question of completely exonerating the Gardaí of ever wishing to undermine the messenger, namely Maurice McCabe, would you ever be in a position where you could write such an article and say, well, the messenger was undermined to me by members of the Gardaí?

O’Keeffe: “I don’t see how a situation would arise where I could do anything like that that I would see now as potentially be revealing a source.”

Charleton: “Again, and this is a bit like a crossword puzzle the whole morning really, it’s trying to work out what people are actually trying to say to me. What you seem to be saying to me is that in the event that you were to write such an article, then it would be clear that the persons named in the terms of reference would somehow be implicated, is that what you —

O’Keeffe: “Sorry, Chair, that wasn’t what I meant.”

Charleton: “Well, maybe you’d help me as to what you actually did mean.”

O’Keeffe: “That I couldn’t envisage writing any such piece that you are suggesting.”

Charleton: “And does that mean you actually don’t have any information to that effect? Without revealing any sources, does it mean – that is what Mr. Marrinan asked you – that you don’t actually have any information to the effect that there was any kind of attempt, anywhere, by any garda, to say that Maurice McCabe was not the person he was cracked up to be but, in fact, had an allegation against him in the past that there might be some validity to, or anything of that variety?”

O’Keeffe: “Well, I suppose that is the fundamental issue for me, is that I believe that by — that I can’t say anything that may reveal who a source is or who is not. That is my position.”

Charleton: “I know that. But, I mean, could you ever write an article to the effect that the Tribunal got it wrong, in the event that the Tribunal exonerated the Garda?

O’Keeffe: “I’d have to ask you to ask me that question again, sorry, Chair.”

Charleton: “Could you ever write an article, if the Tribunal exonerated the Garda from ever trying to undermine the character of Maurice McCabe, saying, well, the Tribunal got it wrong because I know to the contrary? You would be absolutely entitled, as a journalist, to write such an article, by the way.”

O’Keeffe:No, I couldn’t see myself writing such an article.”

The former editor of the Irish Examiner Tim Vaughan and its special correspondent Michael Clifford also gave evidence to the tribunal and will be covered in part 2 tomorrow.

Previously: Maurice McCabe And The Mail Newspapers

 Maurice McCabe And INM

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

Pics: RollingNews

Top: Sgt Maurice McCabe and above, clockwise from top left: Conor O’Donnell, Debbie McCann, Robert Cox, Alison O’Reilly and Sebastian Hamilton.

Following  the completion of evidence from Fionnan Sheahan (full report on this here), chairman of the Disclosures Tribunal Justice Peter Charleton turned to the Irish Independent editor and asked:

“Mr Sheahan…Is there anything in the world of journalism that I’m unaware of that might help me in any way as to why these completely contradictory allegations are flung up?

The judge had, to this point, heard four direct conflicts of evidence between eight journalists, often working for the same news organisations.

Justice Charleton continued:

“…I have had reference to bitterness, to careers, to jobs, to people leaving their posts. I don’t know whether it’s down to sick buildings or what it is down to, but is there any way you can assist me on this?”

Mr Sheahan, having verbally trashed a former colleague during his session minutes earlier, was unable to help the judge.

The evidence taken by journalists from Associated Newspapers Ireland, which publishes the Irish Daily Mail and the Irish Mail on Sunday, was more of the same. Only more so.

Conor O’Donnell, editor of the Irish Mail on Sunday; Sebastian Hamilton, group editor at the Irish Daily Mail; Debbie McCann, crime correspondent at the Irish Mail on Sunday; Robert Cox, deputy editor of news at the Irish Mail on Sunday; and Alison O’Reilly, of the Irish Daily Mail and formerly of the Irish Mail on Sunday, all gave evidence.

Most of their questioning was taken up with a conflict between Ms O’Reilly and Ms McCann, who had not just been colleagues but good friends.

When Labour leader Brendan Howlin told the Dáil in February 2017 that he had been contacted by a journalist who said they had “direct knowledge” [sic] of the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan telling journalists [sic] of “very serious allegations of sexual crimes having been committed by Sergeant Maurice McCabe”, he was referring to his contact with Ms O’Reilly.

She had told him that Ms McCann had told her that Ms O’Sullivan was a source of information for her about Ms D.

Ms McCann was the first journalist to call to the home of Ms D in early 2014.

This visit came about after she had first heard “murmurings” about Sgt McCabe and after she made inquiries, following the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s “disgusting” remark.

Ms McCann’s line editor, Robert Cox, told the tribunal when Mr Callinan made his “disgusting” remark at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, January 23, 2014, everything changed.

He said:

“Commissioner Callinan, once he said ‘disgusting’ it became a whole different ball game in a certain respect because there was — any allegations or anything that was in the ether, was now, had kind of — it hadn’t surfaced but there was some reason behind that disgusting remark and anybody who was following the [penalty points] story kind of was wondering what was behind it.”

Mr Cox said, around this time, and as Ms McCann told him she had heard “murmurings” about Sgt McCabe, he told her to find out more details. He said:

She came back with, that there had been an allegation, the allegation was of child sex abuse, that the person was a minor at the time of the abuse, that it was historic, and that the DPP had chosen — had decided not to press charges.”

When Ms McCann gave evidence, she said:

“I knew she was a young girl at the time. I didn’t know her exact age…I knew that they [Mr D and Sgt McCabe] were colleagues. I don’t know if I knew at that point that they had fallen out, I don’t know...I had that it was an allegation of inappropriate touching. I think I knew at the time that there may have been tickling involved, but I think that’s all I knew.”

Despite knowing that the DPP ruled against a prosecution, Ms McCann subsequently called to the D house.

Ms D wasn’t at the house at the time and, instead, Mrs D answered the door.

It’s the evidence of Ms McCann and Mrs D that Ms McCann was turned away from the door pretty much immediately.

It’s not clear what date Ms McCann called to the D house but she initially told the tribunal she thought she visited the D family in or around February 14 or 21, 2014.

When Ms McCann’s editor Conor O’Donnell gave evidence, he said:

“What happened is we sent [Ms McCann to the D house]. Nothing came of it. We did nothing more on it and we never discussed it again.”

But Ms O’Reilly – who told Sgt McCabe there were rumours circulating about him to the effect that he had sexually abused a girl when she first met him on February 28, 2014 – claims Ms McCann told her there was much more to it.

Coincidentally, around the same time, Ms O’Reilly claims she had asked Mr Cox if she could write something “positive on the whistleblowers” and she said Mr Cox said “they didn’t want any negative stories because it would piss off the gardaí and they would stop giving Debbie [McCann] stories”.

Ms O’Reilly claims Ms McCann told her that, at some point, she had spent about an hour interviewing Ms D, and that Ms McCann was able to describe in detail how Ms D held her arms as they spoke to each other.

She claims Ms McCann called Sgt McCabe a paedo, child abuser and a dirty fucking bastard.

She claims Ms McCann told her she’d heard Ms D “was in a bad way” from the former head of the Garda Press office Supt Dave Taylor and that she seemed to have been very moved emotionally by Ms D’s story.

She claims Ms McCann said the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was a source of information for her about Ms D.

She claims Ms McCann said Sgt McCabe was hated within the gardaí.

She claims Ms McCann said she had written a story on Ms D but that it wasn’t published.

And she claims Ms McCann said Mr O’Donnell wanted to publish it as an anonymous story but that Mr Hamilton didn’t want the story published as he was too cautious.

In regards to the above claims, Ms McCann, Mr O’Donnell and Mr Hamilton categorically deny them all, while Ms O’Sullivan also utterly denies being a source of information for Ms McCann.

Ms McCann refused to be drawn on her communications or conversations with Supt Taylor – who waived his right to privilege – saying she had to protect her career as a journalist “going forward”.

At one point she said:

“I am the journalist and I believe that that decision lies with me. I have a career to think about going forward. I can’t go there. I would love to go there, but I honestly cannot do that.”

In his final submission, Ms McCann’s counsel Tom Murphy recalled Ms McCann saying the quote above and added:

“This is an archetypal Catch-22: answer the question and your career will be damaged, perhaps irrevocably; don’t answer the question and your failure to do so could lead to adverse inferences, including, most seriously, a potential finding of dishonesty. Further, and despite some suggestions to the contrary, the stance adopted by Ms McCann in relation to her journalistic privilege is mirrored by other journalists…”

Mr Murphy went on to list these other journalists as Conor Lally, of The Irish Times; Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star; and John Mooney, of The Sunday Times.

Mr Murphy also recalled what Ms McCann had said to Judge Charleton a few weeks previously when she said:

“He [Supt Taylor] has waived his privilege. It is — I am the journalist, and, going forward, if I start revealing the contents of conversations that I had with people, it’s going to really damage me going forward. And I think that I am not in a different position to other journalists who have come before this Tribunal.”


The judge had replied to Ms McCann: “Well, you are [different], I’m afraid, very much, as from what I can see at the moment.”

It took Associated Newspapers five months to tell the tribunal that Ms McCann had called to the D house.

Neither Ms McCann nor Supt Taylor confirmed the fact until after the tribunal heard about it from elsewhere.

Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, asked Sebastian Hamilton if there had been a conscious decision made at the Mail “to say, okay, we are going to claim journalistic privilege, we are not going to tell the tribunal anything about any of our journalists knowing anything about the D story until such time as we see what other information the Tribunal gets?”

Mr Hamilton said: “I’m certainly not aware of any decision in those terms having been taken at all.”

Throughout Mr Hamilton’s evidence, he repeatedly stated that Ms O’Reilly had a grievance with Associated Newspapers.

Mr Hamilton’s repeated claim followed the sending of a letter – on April 18, 2018 – from the Mail’s solicitor Michael Keeley to the tribunal, which stated:

“My client believes that the state of Ms O’Reilly’s relations with them at the time she spoke with Mr Howlin is a relevant issue and was a strong motivating factor in her actions and also, in their view, cast considerable doubt on the credibility of the witness.”

Judge Charleton pointed out that a person can have a grievance with another and still tell the truth.

The judge also pointed out that, regardless, several facts weren’t immediately disclosed to the tribunal by Associated Newspapers – which had nothing to do with Ms O’Reilly.

He said:

The fact that someone goes and knocks at somebody’s door, is a fact; the fact that they speak to somebody’s mother, is a fact; the fact that you know that, your newspaper knows that, is a fact; the fact that that is nothing to do with journalistic privilege, the fact of being at the door, but nonetheless you choose not to tell us and it takes you five months to get to the point, when we already know the information, I have to put it to you. So, I mean, it’s all very well to say journalistic privilege to journalistic privilege any number of times you wish, but at the moment that doesn’t look very impressive to me.”

[The alleged grievance which Mr Hamilton was referring to is an ongoing legal action Ms O’Reilly is taking against the Mail – following the fallout of a story by Ms O’Reilly which was published in the Irish Mail on Sunday on March 27, 2016, about the Buncrana pier tragedy in which Louise James lost five family members after the Audi jeep they were in slipped off the pier and into Lough Swilly in Co Donegal.

After the story was published, Ms James complained to the newspaper and the newspaper subsequently apologised – stating Ms James had not consented to being interviewed.

When Ms O’Reilly gave evidence, she said: “I made it clear to Ms James, Chairman, that I was a journalist with the Irish Mail on Sunday, that I was doing a story and that I taped it in line with what we normally do in The Mail on Sunday, we secretly tape things for our own protection in case you are accused of fake news or in case you are attacked.”

She also said: “I have a conversation with Conor O’Donnell, who told me that I did interview Louise James and that they only apologised to her because that is what she wanted, and he wanted to know if I was okay.”

The tribunal heard that, after the IMOS story about Buncrana, there had been an internal investigation within the IMOS, and a warning had been placed on Ms O’Reilly’s record for a year.

Ms O’Reilly also signed the following statement: “I note the sanction. Just to be absolutely clear, I fully accept my error of judgement. I want to put it behind me. I want to continue working for the Mail. I want the opportunity to prove myself. I look forward to working on features and welcome any training that would be given and I embrace it. The last few months have taught me a lot of us here need to look at how wework. On the basis of that, I accept the sanction and look forward to getting back to work.”

Of this statement, Ms O’Reilly told the tribunal: “I was very heavily medicated, Chairman, and to the point where Sebastian Hamilton had actually called my representative aside and said: Should we proceed with this? I have never seen her look so bad. And that was the advice I was given in those circumstances.”]

The tribunal also heard about a possible attempt to “block” the tribunal from obtaining information.

Ms O’Reilly said the following about a meeting she had with the company’s solicitor Michael Keeley before the the tribunal’s proceedings got under way.

She said:

“Chairman, I went to a meeting with Michael Keeley after receiving a letter from the Tribunal and he asked me a series of questions and he asked me did I ever hear the rumour about Maurice McCabe being a child abuser, and I said yes, I did. And I went to tell him who it was and he put his hand up and he said, I don’t want to know.

“And I thought, well, what are we doing here? I mean, do we tell the truth or do we not tell the truth? And then he went on, maybe question five or six he said: Did you meet Maurice McCabe? I said I did. I asked him to do an interview. I said, Michael, I actually feel very sorry for Maurice McCabe. And he said — he put his pen down and he looked at me, he was sitting there, and I was sitting here, and he said: You know, nobody comes out of a Tribunal looking okay, even if they’re trying to be the good guy.

“And I said, do you know what? I’m not telling you anything. I was terrified, absolutely terrified. I felt threatened and terrified. And I thought, what is this? I knew that Debbie had been up at the house, I knew that I had been up with Maurice McCabe, and by the time he got to his very last question, as we were standing up to leave, I said I’m not telling him anything, I’m too afraid.”

Hugh Mohan SC, for Associated Newspapers, repeatedly put to Ms O’Reilly that she had “lied” to Mr Keeley when she “denied” she was Mr Howlin’s source.

Ms O’Reilly said she accepted she didn’t tell Mr Keeley, but she also said:

“I accept that I tried to tell Michael Keeley everything, and he didn’t want to know.”

Judge Charleton stepped in around this point and asked Mr Mohan if Mr Keeley accepted what Ms O’Reilly claimed Mr Keeley said – “nobody comes out of a Tribunal looking okay”.

Mr Mohan and Judge Charleton then had this exchange while Ms O’Reilly also interjected intermittently:

Mohan: “He made it clear that he did not want to be put in a position where sources were told to him in that context. I think it’s a different version of events, but in that context that was the basis of what was said.”

O’Reilly: “Chairman, he said ‘I don’t want to know’.”

Mohan: “Sorry, he did not want to know — sorry, Chairman, he did not want to be put in the position of being told sources –”

O’Reilly: “But that was my whole point, Chairman; like, what were we doing there? Why — we are meeting to not tell the Tribunal anything. I mean –”

Charleton: “So the Tribunal is writing letters to people, and what’s the result? I mean, either we actually owe allegiance to this country or we don’t. So what is the result of the Tribunal writing letters to people?”

Mohan: “Well, sorry, Mr Chairman, this information was put before you by the witness, the current witness, and my client in this case, Ms McCann, has a different version of events in relation to this. It just so happens, for yet the second time, both the parties to it have a fundamentally different version of events than this witness has given. I am challenging her credibility –”

Charleton: “Well, if you want to put a different version of a conversation, of course you are perfectly entitled to, Mr. Mohan, and I would welcome that indeed.”

Mohan: “Well, what I want to do now if I may –”

Charleton: “No, but this is actually important, because we have been spending the last year-and-a-half trying to find out things that we have been charged by the Oireachtas to do, and it is, this is our country, we owe allegiance to it. We are tasked with trying to find this information out. Now, it’s appropriate, if you have a different version of the conversation, to please put it.”

Mohan: “Sorry, the different version I am putting is that, in fact, Ms McCann did not, because she was not in contact with Nóirín O’Sullivan, ever say that Nóirín O’Sullivan had told her anything whatsoever.”

Charleton: “No, no, and I appreciate that. But it is — the Tribunal went to a lot of trouble to write an awful lot of letters to an awful lot of people, and furthermore, there were back-up letters, there were follow-up letters, many people never replied, we had to follow up in the case of some people a large number of times, and then, apparently, if anything comes up, well then I’m given a submission on this, that and the other. But this is actually important, and it’s important from the point of view of the other person having the conversation. If there’s a different version of this conversation, it should be put.”

Mohan: “Well –”

Charleton: “I am not talking about Ms McCann; I am talking about the conversation with Michael Keeley. I mean, that’s what I am talking about, that. I mean, Mr Mohan, vis-à-vis Ms O’Reilly and what she was told, what is was saying was, well, I don’t know what was behind it, I don’t know whether it was the fisherman’s tale of getting the 50-pound salmon or whether it was the truth, but what I am telling you is that it was said. So that’s one thing, I appreciate that. But then the other thing is, okay, source or no source, the Tribunal had asked for information, and I am now being told that that was blocked. Now, that’s important. If there is a different version, I really ought to know.”

Mohan: “I have an account, which you don’t have, of that attendance that Mr Keeley prepared following his conversation with Alison O’Reilly, and I have checked it, for some reason that didn’t appear, although Ms O’Reilly would be familiar with it, and I have no difficulty with that being put in. It’s Mr Keeley’s account. I can read it, if I may.”

Charleton: “Well, yes, of course, but it’s not for me, it’s for the witness.”

Mohan: “Sorry, you did ask me, I have an account –”

Charleton: “Well, I don’t know why everyone is arguing with me and parsing and analysing everything I say. Look, it is a very fundamental principle of law. It’s from the point of view of fairness to Mr Keeley, from the point of view of fairness to the witness and also from the point of view of the functionability of a tribunal in this Republic, as to whether any such thing happened. Now, of course I had no notice, and neither did you perhaps have any notice, I don’t know, Mr Mohan, certainly it’s no blame, I am not sending any in your direction at all, that in answer to your question Ms O’Reilly would tell me what she’s just told me. But from the point of view of fairness, if there is a different version of the conversation, it should be put, out of fairness to her and out of fairness to Mr Keeley as well.”

Mohan: “I wonder, I’m going to — not to waste the court’s — the Tribunal’s time, I will go on to another and come back to this. But in the meantime I will have this photocopied and circulated so everybody has a copy of it, and I will return to that point. And this will be the version dealing with the point that you have made, if I may deal with it that way?”

Charleton: “Well, it’s not exactly as if I am making a point; it is pretty fundamental.”

Mohan: “Well, no, I am happy to deal with it, absolutely.”

Charleton: “Well, that’s fine. Grand.”

Mohan: “I can read the note, but I think it might be better if everybody has a copy.”

Charleton: “Well, I’m not trying to interfere. I think you should take your own course. And I appreciate the questions you’ve put. Look, Ms O’Reilly is saying: I had the conversation, it was such and such. You are saying you couldn’t possibly have, because you never had, for instance, the Commissioner’s number, there was no record of any communication between them. That’s perfectly and utterly fair. But in the event there is an allegation of obstruction on the Tribunal, well that should be dealt with today, if possible.”

Mohan: “I’m going to get copies of the note made and I will return to that, if I may. Ms. Leader is going to make copies of it.”

Charleton: “Yes, we will facilitate you every way we can.”

The tribunal never heard any more evidence on this alleged conversation.

When Alison O’Reilly gave evidence, the tribunal heard about a text exchange she and Ms McCann had on May 9, 2014 – several months after Ms McCann had been, the tribunal heard, turned away from the door of the D house by Mrs D.

In May 2014, Ms McCann was also on maternity leave which began within weeks of calling to the D house.

The text exchange followed the publication of a report by Sean Guerin SC, whose scoping exercise of Sgt McCabe’s complaints about Cavan/Monaghan led to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in 2015.

The tribunal was initally told the following was the sequence of texts:

O’Reilly to McCann:

“A highly respected officer held in ‘high regard’ is how judge Guerin describes McCabe.”

McCann to O’Reilly:

“I am fully aware and, to be honest, I think it’s gross. There is a very messed up girl at the heart of it and no one gives a fuck.”

McCann to O’Reilly:

“It’s a farce. Everyone knows, from politicians to cops to journos. It’s an fucking pantomime.”

McCann to O’Reilly:

“Sorry for Shatter? It’s just like a house of cards. Self-preservation is the name of the game. It’s one big sordid game. Nóirín should get the job, she’d be fab, and it’ll be the ultimate knee-jerk reaction if they go down the civilian route. I also feel for Callinan. What a way for his career to end. The tape thing is one big f-ing smokescreen designed to save political face, and at what cost? Justice will be the biggest loser if the government continues the way it’s going. It’s disgusting.”

When Ms McCann gave evidence, she told the tribunal that the sequence, as presented by Ms O’Reilly above, was incorrect and that another text was sent to her by Ms O’Reilly before her text about Ms D being a “very messed up girl”.

Ms McCann claimed this missing text had been deleted.

Ms McCann then read the missing text:

“‘Paul Williams and the Indo have an agenda against McCabe,’ says Micheál Martin to pals.”

Ms McCann told the tribunal she believes that missing text changed the whole context of the exchange.

She said: “…that “to be honest, I think it’s gross”, if you read the full context, that would suggest what I’m calling gross is the game-playing that’s happening in relation to it and not Sergeant McCabe.”


When the various legal teams presented their final submissions to Judge Charleton, Fíonán Ó Muircheartaigh BL, for Ms O’Reilly, told the tribunal:

“Debbie McCann advised the Tribunal that a text in the sequence of messages furnished by Alison O’Reilly was deleted and that it was held back to show her in a bad light. The actual sequence… shows that this is not so. Alison O’Reilly did not delete any texts.”

Mr Ó Muircheartaigh said the sequence was as follows:

O’Reilly to McCann:

“A highly respected officer held in ‘high regard’ is how judge Guerin describes McCabe.”

McCann to O’Reilly:

“I am fully aware and, to be honest, I think it’s gross. There is a very messed up girl at the heart of it and no one gives a fuck.”

O’Reilly to McCann:

‘Paul Williams and the Indo have an agenda against McCabe’, says Micheál Martin to pals.’

McCann to O’Reilly:

“It’s a farce. Everyone knows, from politicians to cops to journos. It’s an fucking pantomime.”

When Tom Murphy BL, for Ms McCann, gave his final submission on behalf of Associated Newspapers, he did not challenge the sequence of texts as read out by Mr Ó Muircheartaigh.

Mr Ó Muircheartaigh said this about the text exchange when he gave his final submission:

“This exchange occurred after the Mail had apparently decided not to run with the story concerning Ms D. This is referred to in the evidence of Debbie McCann to the Tribunal on the 8th June.

“This suggests that even after the decision to drop the story by the Mail, Debbie McCann still had a very negative perception of Sergeant McCabe.

“The Tribunal heard in evidence on the 8th June that, despite being on maternity leave, Debbie McCann continued to work on stories for her employer.

“But the following points are pertinent in that regard: Debbie McCann was the crime correspondent with the Irish Mail on Sunday; she was in regular contact with David Taylor, the head of the Garda Press Office.

“Superintendent David Taylor says he negatively briefed journalists as the opportunity arose in relation to Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s agendas and his motivation for revenge against the gardaí.

“Superintendent David Taylor says he was in touch with and discussed Debbie McCann’s visit to Ms D’s house with her in or about the time of her visit. The Mail legal team did not challenge this evidence by cross-examination.

“Debbie McCann was the first journalist to visit Ms D’s house seeking an interview with Ms D. It is unlikely that Debbie McCann did not discuss Sergeant McCabe with David Taylor.

“Debbie McCann was refused to divulge the content of any discussion she had with Superintendent David Taylor about Maurice McCabe or Ms D.

“Debbie McCann’s father, Superintendent John McCann, was aware of the historic allegations against Sergeant McCabe.

“He told the Tribunal that he did not discuss it with his daughter, and Debbie McCann concurs with that account. It is submitted that these facts suggest that the origin of Debbie McCann’s concerns regarding Sergeant McCabe and Ms D were as a result of Superintendent David Taylor and other senior gardaí.

“This contact was indicated in Debbie McCann’s conversations with Alison O’Reilly. The contact is an identifiable factor in the escalation of her interest and her express views of Sergeant McCabe and her excursion to Ms D’s house.

“Debbie McCann’s refusal to answer any questions regarding her contacts with David Taylor, notwithstanding his waiver of privilege, suggests the inference that Superintendent Taylor did brief her negatively.

“If he did not, there could be no reason for not divulging the content of those conversations. It also suggests that, whatever contacts took place, they were not confined to the formula suggested by Superintendent David Taylor in his evidence.

“If Debbie McCann had not been persuaded that Sergeant McCabe was guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor, it is difficult to rationalise how she could have expressed the views she did about Sergeant McCabe.

“The texts suggest that she continued to hold those views for some time after her visit to the D household. It seems inescapable also that Debbie McCann learned the detail of the allegations from a Garda source.

“In her direct evidence to the Tribunal she stated she knew before her visit to Ms D’s house of the issue of tickling.

“The reference to tickling only appeared in the confidential Garda investigation of the complaint, and, as far as we are aware, this was never divulged to third parties or never mentioned prior to Debbie McCann’s evidence to this Tribunal.”

Ms McCann was asked about the level of sympathy she displayed for Ms D in her text to Ms O’Reilly on May 9, 2014, when she referred to Ms D as a “very messed up girl”.

Ms McCann put her sympathy down to her very brief exchange with Mrs D at the front door of the D house in early 2014.

She said:

“I had a degree of sympathy for the girl. I didn’t know her. I had met the mother, and, from meeting the mother, I found her to be upset, I found her — I felt that she believed something had happened with her daughter and, based on that, I found that was my opinion on the matter.”

She added:

“She [Mrs D] was very clearly distressed when I knocked on her door, in the sense that she told me that she had been listening to the news and something about hearing McCabe — Sergeant McCabe being referred to as a hero. It was quite clear that she was distressed and upset, and it immediately struck me and I found just from — I found her to be credible and I found her to — that conversation that I had with her, I found that she certainly believed something had happened.”

However, it’s the evidence of Mrs D that she wasn’t upset about Sgt McCabe when they met and didn’t mention anything about hearing a news item on the radio about Sgt McCabe.

The tribunal did hear Mrs D was “horrified” when Ms McCann had “turned up on her doorstep”.

Mrs D had told the tribunal:

She [McCann] said something to me like, I know you have been going through a hard time. There’s a bit of rumours. She said something about the whistleblower and I just looked. She wasn’t directly in front of me, she was almost to the side of me. I just looked to the side of her and that was all I said, we’re not speaking to anybody. And that was all the dealings I had with her.”

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, had this exchange with Ms McCann.

McDowell: “First of all, did you have any further information, other than the allegation that you had been told about, about your source or sources and your meeting with Mrs D and her being — her looking upset?”

McCann: “No.”

McDowell: “Well, then, how could you possibly say there is a very messed-up girl at the heart of it and nobody gives an eff, how could you possibly say that?”

McCann: “Because, again, I had — I had come to that opinion based on hearing the allegation and based on meeting a mother at the door.”

McDowell: “But listen, the DPP heard the allegation.”

McCann: “Mm-hmm.”

McDowell: “Superintendent Cunningham heard the allegation.”

McCann: “Yes.”

McDowell: “He investigated it.”

McCann: “Mm-hmm.”

McDowell: “And the DPP, we now know, said that there was no offence disclosed at all.”

McCann: “Mm-hmm.”

McDowell: “So how could you come to the view that this girl had been seriously effed up by abuse in these circumstances?”

McCann: “No, I didn’t come to the view that she had been abused in any way; I came to the view that she was messed up, yes, I came to that view.”

McDowell: “By what? By what?”

McCann: “Based on the fact that her — on meeting her mother, her mother clearly believed something had happened.”

In relation to her knowledge of tickling, it was suggested to Ms McCann that she had obtained the Garda file on Sgt McCabe.

Ms McCann said: “No, I don’t. And I have never had sight of any Garda file.”

Asked where she got the idea that “tickling” was involved, Ms McCann said: “I got it from a source.”

Ms McCann was asked if the only reference in the public domain to tickling was in the Garda file would it be fair to assume that her source had access to the garda file?

Ms McCann said she didn’t know.

As mentioned above, Ms O’Reilly and Ms McCann had been close.

Ms O’Reilly told the tribunal:

“We were good friends and she [McCann] is a good journalist and I just felt that she was being used, and I felt, by using her, they were trying to use our paper. Whoever was telling her this, she believed it. And I just shared with her what Maurice McCabe had told me and how I felt about it, but again, I had no proof of anything other than his word, and he seemed quite credible to me.”

The contradictions and bitterness which replaced Ms O’Reilly and Ms McCann’s friendship left Justice Charelton, and many at the tribunal, not only mystified by ‘the world of journalism’ but this time genuinely saddened.

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Examiner

Previously: Maurice McCabe And INM

Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTE

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

Pics: RollingNews

Clockwise from top left: Sgt Maurice McCabe and Michael McDowell; Fionnan Sheahan, Colum Kenny, Terry Prone, Ian Mallon, Tom Brady and Anne Harris.

On March 25, 2014, the morning after Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s resignation, Terry Prone wrote an opinion piece for the Irish Independent.

In her article, the public relations expert said there was no need for the commissioner to have fallen on the “whistleblower sword”.

Mr Callinan had resigned in the wake of multiple scandals within the force and for describing the actions of Garda whistleblowers Sgt Maurice McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as “disgusting” at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing.

What Mr Callinan could have done, Ms Prone suggested, was simply talk the clock down with endless detail and strictly adhere to answers that fall within PAC’s own narrow remit.

Mr Callinan’s second mistake was not grasping what being a whistleblower meant in 2014.

According to Ms Prone:

“He [Mr Callinan] may not have understood, for example, that the minute the title whistleblower is publicly put on someone, they acquire a new role in society and a new status to match.

They are newly impregnable. They develop a sort of double-whammy credibility; if someone impugns their assumed virtue, the accuser will be disbelieved.

But even if it is provable that the whistleblower has the odd flaw, it doesn’t matter. What matters are the accusations and the stories they generate.”

Ms Prone would soon be advising Mr Callinan’s acting replacement Noirin O’Sullivan while also at the same time, as is her wont, advising Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Ms Prone’s assessment became a blueprint for Ms O’Sullivan’s public relations strategy in the next two years concerning both Sgt McCabe and the Public Accounts Committee.

Never again would a Commissioner trip up like this again.

Garda management would, from now on, openly praise Sgt McCabe without reservation.

And PAC appearances by Ms O’Sullivan would become contemptuous studies in futility.

Sgt McCabe was offered a job to help oversee the new penalty points system brought about because of his efforts.

Ms O’Sullivan in the words of one impressed journalist, had “metaphorically put her arm around” Sgt McCabe.

Meanwhile, It would be left to Garda lawyers and certain journalists to do what was necessary to cast doubt around Sgt McCabe,

And it worked, for a while.

But the contrast between Ms O’Sullivan’s show of jovial warmth and Sgt McCabe’s reality within the force proved too great.

The sheer magnitude of spin was unsustainable.

When it emerged that Ms O’Sullivan’s legal team had been instructed to attack Sgt McCabe’s motivation and integrity during the O’Higgins Commission, the narrative collapsed.

Ms O’Sullivan, along with Ms Fitzgerald, would fall to the “whistleblower sword” as a result.

The first mention of Sgt Maurice McCabe in the Irish Independent came following Martin Callinan’s appearance before PAC on Thursday, January 23, 2014.

This was the occasion when Mr Callinan described the behaviour of Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson as “disgusting”.

Mr Callinan’s appearance was covered by Irish Independent Security Editor Tom Brady and its then Public Affairs Editor Shane Phelan.

There was an analysis of Mr Callinan’s performance by Mr Brady and a humorous sketch of events by Lise Hand, plus an editorial by the paper’s then editor Claire Grady.

However, Mr Callinan’s ”disgusting” remark was mentioned only once, in the seventh paragraph of Mr Brady and Mr Phelan’s article, which stated without direct quotes:

He [Martin Callinan] described the behaviour of the two whistleblowers as disgusting in opting to make unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and criminality against senior colleagues in a public forum.

However, Sgt McCabe never alleged corruption or criminality against senior officers.

On day seven of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, Chief Supt Terry McGinn, who first investigated Sgt McCabe’s allegations, gave evidence  about the nature of Sgt McCabe’s complaints.

Shief Supt McGinn said:

“In relation to Sergeant McCabe’s complaint, he particularly told me… that his complaints were not against Garda sergeants, his complaints were against Garda management and their failure to, and I summarise it here, I have other words, as I was exploring what Sergeant McCabe said to me. And he said:

‘In all of my statements and exhibits, my purpose was to highlight poor standards, poor work practices and failure by Garda management to address these issues. I am also concerned at the service provided by the Gardaí to the public. I am not alleging corruption or criminality by any members or nor have I any evidence to support this allegation‘.”

The Irish Independent‘s coverage focused on Mr Callinan’s attempts to stop Sgt McCabe from appearing before the committee the following week.

Mr Brady, in his analysis, wrote:

‘While committee members may genuinely believe they can assist in establishing the veracity of the allegations it is easy to understand why Mr Callinan should be concerned that a serving member of the force [Sgt McCabe] be allowed to hurl serious allegations of criminality against senior officers who are not there to defend themselves.’

Mr Brady added:

“He [Mr Callinan] is right in his interpretation of the move that it could seriously undermine discipline in the force if every member felt it was possible to run to a Dáil committee with a grievance.”

Dublin City University professor Colum Kenny told the tribunal that, in early 2014, Mr Brady – and RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Reynolds – told him Sgt McCabe was being investigated for child sex abuse. (full report on RTE’s coverage of Maurice McCabe here)

Mr Kenny claims this conversation came about because he had approached them to ask why they weren’t asking questions about a computer which had gone missing from Garda custody – with the disappearance having been blamed on Sgt McCabe.

Mr Kenny said he felt Mr Brady and Mr Reynolds were telling him to “cop himself on” and to “not take Sgt McCabe at face value”.

The professor also claimed the two journalists encouraged him to go and talk to gardai “up there”, which Mr Kenny took to mean gardai in Cavan/Monaghan.

Mr Kenny said the two journalists definitely did not indicate that the child sex abuse allegation was the Ms D allegation of 2006 which had been categorically dismissed by the DPP in 2007.

Mr Reynolds, who knew of the Ms D allegation and the DPP’s directions in 2013, and Mr Brady, who also heard of the Ms D allegation and the DPP’s directions in 2013, say they never had such a conversation with Mr Kenny.

Mr Brady did recall one time that he spoke about Sgt McCabe with Professor Kenny.

He said this was at a pensions protest meeting in the Alexander Hotel, Dublin in November 2016 – at which point the protected disclosures of both Sgt McCabe and Supt Taylor would have been reported upon.

Mr Brady said:

“I had a discussion with him, most of that discussion centred on the pensions and then we went on to talk about my career, had I retired, what I was doing then. I told him and he mentioned Sergeant McCabe, he said something about either had contacted him or was going to contact him.

“I said I’d written nothing about Sergeant McCabe from a personal viewpoint, that any stories I did was to do with the fallout from what Sergeant McCabe had said and the various stories that arose from it.

“On a personal basis, I had written nothing other than at one stage I checked out a rumour about sexual abuse allegations made against him, and I established that that was historic, that had taken place in 2006 and that it had been fully investigated with the Gardaí, a file to the DPP and the DPP rejected it all.

“And that was as much as I knew about it and I didn’t do anything else in connection with that or in connection with Sergeant McCabe, whom I have never spoken to either in person or I have never phoned.”

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Mr Brady about his knowledge of his colleague Paul Williams’ articles about Sgt McCabe and Ms D in April and May 2014 [full report on this in Part 1].

Mr Brady said he was aware “from talk in the newsroom” that Mr Williams was working on “some story” but that, at the time, he wasn’t sure “what exactly it was”.

Mr McDowell asked Mr Brady if he was consulted – given he had heard about the Ms D allegation in 2013, checked it out and satisfied himself that the DPP dismissed the matter – by his editorial staff in March/April/May 2014 about the decision to publish Mr Williams’ articles.

Mr Brady said no.

Asked if he was “surprised” when the Irish Independent ran the series of articles, Mr Brady said

“No, I wasn’t surprised. I’d heard the story was being done.”

Mr McDowell and Mr Brady then had this exchange:

McDowell: “We have heard from Mr [Ian] Mallon [former Group News Editor at INM] that in 2014 the Ms D allegation was widely spoken about in the Irish Independent or in INM at the time, I’m just trying to work out how you fit into the scene, knowing what you say you knew about the matter, how a story of that kind was published in those circumstances?”

Brady: “Well, I wasn’t involved at all. Nobody asked me to get involved, so I didn’t. Paul Williams worked mainly outside the newspaper, he worked on his own, he worked on quite a lot of stories, he was working on the Anglo tapes and I wasn’t involved in any of his stories.”

McDowell: “Yeah. I mean, without seeming to flatter you or cajole you in any way, I think you had a very strong reputation as a person who wrote with some degree of authority on matters to do with security in An Garda Síochána at the time, would you agree with that?”

Brady: “Well, I have a lot of experience perhaps of this.”

McDowell: “Yes. And it was generally believed that if you wrote something, it was well sourced and well regarded as likely to come from close to the top in An Garda Síochána rather than relying on station gossip and things like that?”

Brady: “Well, my practice was to go as high as I could in relation to any story, Chairman.”

McDowell: “Yes. And I’m just trying to work out, in those circumstances, you having checked it out and you having satisfied yourself there was nothing in it, how your newspaper decided to run a story which is — which was trailing a coat, so to speak, for the Ms. D allegation?”

Brady: “Well, I don’t think there was anything in the story that conflicted with the little bit of information that I had. It didn’t suggest that there was something to the allegation or suggest that…”

McDowell:Well, I understood you to say that the DPP had dismissed it, and that wasn’t simply a phrase which includes was unhappy with the evidence, it’s more than that; the DPP had said there was effectively nothing in it?

Brady: “Nothing in it, yeah, no crime.

McDowell:” And then how was it newsworthy that an allegation of no substance was or was not properly investigated?”

Brady: “Well, it wasn’t my decision, it was based on whatever Paul Williams had established from his inquiries and I was not privy to what exactly he had.”

McDowell: “Are you surprised that you weren’t consulted…”

Brady: “No.”

McDowell: “…in relation to the publication of this story?”

Brady: No, Chairman, no.

Then they later shared this exchange:

McDowell: I”‘m suggesting to you that the decision to publish the Williams stories, the articles, was in the circumstances one which revisited an issue which you had investigated and had found to have no substance whatsoever in it?

Brady: “Unfortunately, I wasn’t privy to all the information that was there. Obviously all the information that Paul Williams and perhaps others had gathered wouldhave been considered before a decision was taken. I was never consulted, I was not asked to any of the meetings, and without being privy to all the information that they had, I can’t really say.”

While the daily paper published Mr Williams’ articles about Ms D and increasingly favourable coverage of Ms O’Sullivan, the group’s Sunday edition highlighted Sgt McCabe’s version of events and his struggle to be heard.

Anne Harris, then Sunday Independent editor, told the tribunal that she first heard of the Ms D allegation from a freelance journalist at an editorial meeting in May, 2013 following a major story in her paper on the penalty points scandal.

Ms Harris said:

… I used my own sources and I set about inquiring what — if this had ever reached any sort of further currency or further — if there had been anything further on it, and I discovered that the DPP had looked into it and had discovered that this matter had been groundless.

So I was satisfied with this and I was more than happy to continue with the, with just proper, appropriate and prominent coverage of Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s concerns.”

In September 2014, following an editorial meeting, Ms Harris said Fionnan Sheahan, then group political editor, raised the matter.

Ms Harris said:

“At the end of the conference, towards the end of September, everybody had left, he’d gone out the door, he turned back, came to the office and said, because the last conversation had been about, at the conference, had been about Sergeant Maurice McCabe and he said he’s a paedophile, McCabe’s a pedophile. And I was — I was shocked.”

Mr Sheahan, now editor of the Irish Independent, denied this in the strongest terms.

He said the charge did not stand up against the work he did around the Maurice McCabe story and disputed it was even something that he would ever say.

Mr Sheahan challenged Ms Harris on a specific time and date and questioned whether he was in the country when the comment was alleged to have been made.

He said Ms Harris was driven by a grudge against him and certain editors that had begun when Denis O’Brien ousted Tony O’Reilly as INM’s largest shareholder.

Mr Sheahan said he heard about the Ms D allegation in ‘2013 going into 2014’.

Asked by Darren Lehane BL, for Anne Harris, why he had not pursued the veracity of the allegation then, Mr Sheahan said:

“I have national media awards sitting on my desk because I pursued stories as a journalist which started off with basic hard facts.

So I know the difference between gossip, rumour, innuendo and ephemera and actual hard facts that are verifiable and can be chased down and put out there into the national media…”

In a letter to the tribunal before his appearance, Mr Sheahan had actually instructed lawyers for INM to threaten defamation proceedings against Ms Harris.

However, Mr Sheahan was reminded during the tribunal that statements made at the tribunal are protected under privilege, which is itself protected in the constitution, as his paper’s majority shareholder recently discovered.

Mr Lehane asked Mr Sheahan:

“So you’re saying that Ms. Harris is abusing this Tribunal, established at great cost to the taxpayer, to ventilate a private grudge against you?

Mr Sheahan responded:

Yeah, I’m basically saying that. I also think she is quite confused, because she can’t actually specify when exactly she claims these comments were made…”

Ms Harris said she bore no ill will or grudge toward Mr Sheahan and admired, in particular, his political journalism.

Asked why she couldn’t specify a date when the alleged remark was made, Ms Harris said she believed it was late September, 2014 and could only “date it to my recollection of matters associated with it”.

In this way she recalled a moment involving Mr Sheahan prior to the alleged remark.

Ms Harris said:

“It might sound ephemeral and inconsequential to the Tribunal, Chairman, but I’ll mention it because it is an associative thing for me as I said. 

A measure of how well I got on with Fionnan Sheahan at that time was, he had an idea for a feature.

Now, features were nowhere near his interests, but he’d suggested a feature on men marrying up, and he said it’s a new phenomenon, men marrying up, George Clooney has married up, Amal, she’s a great kind of catch for George Clooney.”

Allowing for rare levity in a grim module, Justice Charelton intervened.

Charleton: “Do you mean men marrying women who are much more intelligent than they are?”

Harris: “…Exactly, that is the point he was making, you’ve got it, Chairman.”

Charleton:“I did that.”

Ms Prone, for her part, has fared better than most out of this scandal.

In September 2015, her company The Communications Clinic secured the media training contract for all senior gardai.

Between June and November 2016 alone, it was paid €92,955 for this service.

A Garda spokesman said:

“Media training programme for senior officers and managers enables An Garda Síochána to provide more spokespeople to the media in order to keep the public informed about how An Garda Síochána prevents and tackles crime.”

He added that 100 officers had availed of the training.

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And Associated Newspapers Ireland

Yesterday: Maurice McCabe And INM: Part 1

Maurice McCabe And RTE

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Maurice McCabe And The Sunday Times

Pics: RollingNews