Tag Archives: Noirin O’Sullivan

Front page of the Irish Examiner on October 4, 2016 and former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan

RTE reports:

The High Court has dismissed an application by former garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan for an order allowing her to bring a defamation action against the Irish Examiner newspaper.

Ms O’Sullivan, who served as commissioner between 2014 and 2017, had claimed she was defamed by the Cork-based Irish Examiner newspaper in an article that appeared on the front page of the publication on 4 October 2016 entitled “Senior Garda tried to ‘destroy’ source.”

The newspaper denied the article was defamatory.

…In a judgment today, Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington refused to grant Ms O’Sullivan an order allowing her to issue defamation proceedings outside the statutory limit of one year.

The Judge said that Ms O’Sullivan had said she did not bring the proceedings any earlier than she did because the former commissioner did not believe herself to be in a position to consider the matter from the date of publication until the conclusion of the Disclosures Tribunal.

Ms Justice Pilkington said that those reasons, while sincerely and genuinely held, are “insufficient to disapply the one-year statutory limit.

O’Sullivan’s legal action against newspaper is dismissed (RTE)

This afternoon

Via The United Nations:

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced today the appointment of Nóirín O’Sullivan of Ireland as the Assistant Secretary-General for Safety and Security.

Ms. O’Sullivan succeeds Fadzai Gwaradzimba of Zimbabwe, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.

As deputy to the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security (USG/DSS), the Assistant Secretary-General will be responsible for the day-to-day overall management of the Department and supporting the USG in the overall leadership and management of the Department.

Ms. O’Sullivan has over 36 years of experience in the international law enforcement and security environment, and most recently held the position of Garda Commissioner of An Garda Síochána in Ireland.

Prior to that, she was the Interim Acting Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, responsible for advising the Minister of Justice and the Government of Ireland on all matters pertaining to national security and policing.

Ms. O’Sullivan began her career with An Garda Síochána in Ireland in June 1981 and progressed through the ranks, holding various operational and managerial positions since then.

Ms. O’Sullivan brings to the role her extensive experience in international safety and security management, strategic management and leadership.

She is a leader in partnership building, leading teams and able to manage complexity and to drive strategic change. She also brings an in-depth knowledge of international security, crisis management, strategic and institutional leadership and gender issues to the position.

Ms. Nóirín O’Sullivan of Ireland – Assistant Secretary-General for Safety and Security (United Nations)


‘Charleton takes the view that she [Noirin O’Sullivan]  was not involved in a campaign to smear Maurice McCabe, regarding Dave Taylor’s allegations against her as motivated by malice. However he does indicate that in some respects he doesn’t believe O’Sullivan’s evidence:-

“She reached out to Maurice McCabe and attempted to solve the workplace-related issues which surrounded him.

These efforts were successful at first, but were undermined by what she felt was the necessity to test where he was coming from in the very serious allegations of corruption that he was making before the O’Higgins Commission.

Her decision in that regard involved talking at length to officials in the Department of Justice and Equality. She is likely to have remembered that, contrary to her evidence, because she realised what was at stake.

It is also improbable that she did not have an inkling at the very least about Commissioner Callinan’s views. At the very least,

it was more than improbable that nothing emerged in the car journey with him back to Garda Headquarters from the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on 23 January 2014.

It was disappointing to hear her evidence on this.”

Effectively, what this is saying is that Noirin O’Sullivan, while not implicated in the smear of McCabe, was not truthful in her evidence – an extremely serious conclusion with regard to a former Garda Commissioner, and something which surely merits more than just disappointment.’

Legal Coffee Drinker: Charelton Report Conclusions


Some neck, in fairness.

Earlier: Full Closure

Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan


The Irish Times, reports:

The former Garda commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, has sought all information held on her by a number of major media organisations under European Union data protection rules.

Faced with the request, RTÉ has told some of its journalists that all of their email records are being examined by the State broadcaster’s data protection officer….

…The former commissioner has also made the same request for data records to The Irish Times and the publisher of the Irish Mail and the Irish Mail on Sunday.


Nóirín O’Sullivan requests data held on her by key media bodies (The Irish Times)

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews

Former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald; Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic

Last night.

Journalist, director with Right To Know and Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer Ken Foxe tweeted that he had received word back from the Department of Justice yesterday.

This follows his attempts to obtain records of correspondence between the former Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and PR advisor Terry Prone between May 8, 2014 and March 11, 2017 – a time when Ms Prone was also advising the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Mr Foxe had initially been told there were no such records.

After appealing the matter to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the OIC discovered 68 such records of correspondence.

Last night, Mr Foxe said the Department of Justice informed him there were more than 190 such records.

He has yet to receive the documents.

But last night, Mr Foxe explained:

Previously: Frances, Nóirín and Tess

From top: Sgt Maurice McCabe and Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan  (right) arriving at Dublin Castle this morning

This morning.

Dublin Castle, Dublin 2

The Disclosures Tribunal resumes this morning with former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan returning to give evidence into her role in  the alleged smearing of whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Olga Cronin will be live tweeting from the Castle and can be followed here.

More as we get it.



NOTE: In one of the tweets above, we stated that Sgt McCabe took legal action over Mr Reynolds’ reports of May 9, 2016.

To clarify, Sgt McCabe sent a legal letter to RTE over the reports.

In one of the tweets above, we stated Ms O’Sullivan met Ms McCann in mid-November 2013 – this should be 2014.


From top: Anne Harris; yesterday’s Sunday Times

The Disclosures Tribunal – which is examining allegations of a smear campaign against whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe – is to resume next Monday, April 30.

The evidence set to be given over the following couple of months is understood to largely involve journalists and media outlets.

Last June, the tribunal released a statement outlining some details of what certain people had told it at that point.

At the time, the tribunal said the former editor of the Sunday Independent Anne Harris told its investigators:

“In the years 2013 and 2014, matters raised by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe, such as the termination by senior gardaí of fixed penalty points, as well as allegations of murder and abductions not properly investigated, came to prominence.

From the first instance that the Sunday Independent began to report on these matters, certain journalists came to my office to warn me off Sergeant McCabe.

I was given varying accounts of an alleged case of child sex abuse by him, which was apparently being investigated.

This was repeated several times by a very reputable journalist, one who had shown great courage in exposing incidents of corruption and terrorism. I made enquiries and was satisfied that the matter had been investigated by the DPP, and the complaint found to be without grounds.

“The Sunday Independent continued to report on Sergeant McCabe’s concerns and the consequent treatment of him.

In 2013, the allegation that Sergeant McCabe as a “paedophile” was stated in my office by senior executive from the wider “Group” editorial hierarchy of Independent Newspapers.

“I am certain that a whispering smear campaign was being conducted and that the media were being used.

“The pressure on me was less about publishing the sex abuse allegation – it would have been difficult within the laws of libel – but had the clear purpose of discrediting him, and therefore censoring the issues he was raising.”

Further to this…

In yesterday’s Sunday Times and in relation to Ms Harris’s statement to the tribunal…

Mark Tighe and John Mooney reported:

The INM editorial executive, who still works at one of the group’s newspapers, has told the tribunal that he does not recall making such a comment. He has attacked Harris’s motivation and accused her of being a disgruntled former editor.

…Harris told The Sunday Times she decided to name the editorial executive to Peter Charleton’s inquiry because its investigators had asked her to identify those who had passed on information about McCabe.

“When I subsequently considered the timing of the remark, I actually thought the editorial executive himself might be willing to provide useful information to the tribunal. He made this comment in late 2014. I have never shown any animosity towards this editorial executive. I genuinely thought he might have been willing to help the tribunal,” said Harris.

I believe the protection of journalistic sources is paramount, except when they are being used to detract from a good man’s character. I believe that abuse of journalist privilege inspires no confidence in journalism.”


Former Garda press Officer Dave Taylor (left) with former Garda Commissioner Nóirin O’Sullivan in 2014

In yesterday’s Sunday Business Post

Francesca Comyn reported:

“Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan claims whistleblower David Taylor blamed Nóirín O’Sullivan for having him arrested and said he would “bring her down” because of what she had done to him.

“Callinan has made the claim in a statement to the Disclosures Tribunal. He alleges that after he retired as head of the force in May 2014, Supt Taylor visited him at home on several occasions and expressed anger and disappointment that O’Sullivan, who was commissioner at the time, transferred him from the Garda press office to the traffic division.

“…Billing records from her [former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s] mobile phone will show numerous contacts between her and well-known crime and security journalists between July 2012 and May 2014 when she was deputy commissioner.

“She made 33 phone calls to well-known reporter Paul Williams including conversations lasting up to 20 minutes. The tribunal is expected to ask her to explain ten contacts made with Williams in February, March and April 2014.

“In March that year, Williams wrote two articles after interviewing Ms D, the daughter of the garda who made the sexual allegation against McCabe in 2006, later found by the DPP to be groundless.

“…The former commissioner’s phone records for the same time period show further media contacts. Over the 23-month period, she called RTÉ’s crime correspondent Paul Reynolds 20 times and Tom Brady, security editor with the Irish Independent, 74 times.”

Ex-INM editor Anne Harris was ‘warned’ about whistleblower Maurice McCabe (The Sunday Times, Mark Tighe and John Mooney)

Whistleblower: ‘I will bring her down’ (Sunday Business Post, Francesca Comyn)

Previously: Disclosures And Non-Disclosures

Sgt Maurice McCabe (foreground) on the third day of the Disclosures Tribunal on January 24.

From 10am in Dublin Castle.

The legal teams for the various witnesses to the Disclosures Tribunal will give their submissions to chairman of the tribunal Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton in respect of the evidence heard since January.

Olga Cronin will be tweeting live here.

The evidence has primarily focussed on the O’Higgins Commission of Inquiry.

This is because Judge Charleton is tasked with deciding whether the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan inappropriately relied upon false allegations of sexual abuse or any other unjustified grounds to discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins commission.

Readers will recall the O’Higgins inquiry looked at allegations of poor policing in the Cavan/Monaghan area made by Sgt McCabe, with Judge Kevin O’Higgins overseeing 34 days of privately held hearings from May 14, 2015 until December 17, 2015.

At the outset of the commission, on May 15, 2015, Colm Smyth SC, for Ms O’Sullivan, retired Chief Supt Colm Rooney, Supt Michael Clancy and Supt Noel Cunningham told Judge O’Higgins that it was his instructions – as re-confirmed twice that afternoon by Ms O’Sullivan – to challenge the integrity, motivation and credibility of Sgt McCabe.

Mr Smyth would later – in November 2015 – tell the commission that in respect of him having previously stated it was his instructions to challenge Sgt McCabe’s “integrity” – this was an error on his part.

But he maintained it was his instructions to challenge Sgt McCabe’s motivation and credibility – as a means to “test the evidence” of Sgt McCabe.

It should be noted that, during the entire time of the commission, Sgt McCabe was never made aware that a wholly false allegation of child rape was sitting in a file in the then Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s office.

This false allegation of rape came about in August 2013, after a woman referred to as Ms D – who made an allegation against Sgt McCabe in 2006 which was found to have no foundation by the DPP – spoke to a HSE counsellor in 2013 about the matter.

The 2006 complaint referred to an allegation of ‘dry humping’ which she told gardai happened in 1998, when she was around six, during a game of hide and seek.

When the complaint was made, in December 2006, it was 11 months after Ms D’s father, a Garda colleague of Sgt McCabe, was disciplined for arriving at the scene of a suicide drunk and whom Sgt McCabe told to leave the scene.

After Ms D spoke to the counsellor in August 2013, the matter was erroneously sent to Tusla – erroneous because the matter had already been investigated by the gardai and was found to have no foundation – but it was conflated with a rape allegation wholly unrelated to either Ms D or Sgt McCabe and it sat there until May 2014, when it was further conflated and sent to An Garda Siochana shortly after articles appeared in the Irish Independent about Ms D and her 2006 allegation against Sgt McCabe.

The articles didn’t contain the names of those involved or the geography but when Sgt McCabe gave evidence to the tribunal he said he knew the articles written by Paul Williams were about him and he said he got texts and calls from people who also knew they were about him.

After the false allegation was sent from Tusla to the gardai and travelled up to Ms O’Sullivan in May 2014, it sat in a file in Ms O’Sullivan’s office up until the start of the tribunal last year.

During the closing submissions of the Tusla module at the tribunal last month, Judge Peter Charleton referred to the false allegation as “horrible” and he posed the following to the counsel for An Garda Siochana:

“I’m told, on the one hand, that the Commissioner simply read through it making absolutely no comment and not in any way reacting to it, and secondly, I am expected to accept that she has absolutely no recollection of reading it.”

In his response to Judge Charleton, Mícheál O’Higgins SC, for Ms O’Sullivan, said:

“…the relevance of the letter was not evident to her when it was brought to her attention…”

It should be noted that Ms O’Sullivan has told the tribunal that, although she can’t recall reading the false rape allegation, she was never corrected on it and that she was never told that the material sent to her contained a major error.

And yet, she also told the tribunal that back in 2008/2009 – when she was an assistant commissioner in Human Resource Management – she knew of Ms D’s allegation against Sgt McCabe. Continue reading

The Disclosures Tribunal heard claims that Supt Dave Taylor (above) told Sgt Maurcie McCabe (top) that a ‘spiritual person’ had told him to confess his role smearing the whistleblower

This week.

At the Disclosures Tribunal…

Which is examining allegations of a smear campaign being orchestrated by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, with the knowledge of fellow former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, against Sgt Maurice McCabe…

Sgt Maurice McCabe told the tribunal details of information relayed to him during a meeting Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel in May 2016 and, separately, Supt Dave Taylor on September 20 2016, at Supt Taylor’s home.

While giving evidence about both of these meetings, Sgt McCabe became very upset.

Readers should note, the tribunal has heard Mr McGuinness agrees with everything Sgt McCabe has told the tribunal about their meeting, save for one minor detail.

In contrast, it’s heard Supt Taylor’s account of his meeting with Sgt McCabe differs greatly.

However, the tribunal has also heard that Supt Taylor’s own evidence to the tribunal has also changed over time with chairman Judge Peter Charleton noting:

“…there has been perhaps a somewhat, look, one could say a softening or a vagueness in relation to the three statements made by David Taylor, particularly to our investigators, in relation to Nóirín O’Sullivan and what she knew…”

In any event.

Of his meeting with Mr McGuinness – the date of which is unclear other than it was May 2016 – Sgt McCabe told the tribunal on Monday that Mr McGuinness, who was then chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), told him that he had met Martin Callinan in a car park on the Naas Road on January 24.

This would have been a day after Mr Callinan made his “disgusting” remark to PAC about Garda whistleblowers and days before Sgt McCabe was due to appear before the committee to talk about the quashing of penalty points.

Sgt McCabe told the tribunal:

“He told me that he met the former Commissioner Martin Callinan at the Red Cow Inn, or that pub, and he said that I wasn’t to be trusted and he said that I had sexually abused all my children and my nieces. He said to me, I didn’t like to tell you before — you know, up to this point.

“At times I’m glad that he actually didn’t. But I asked him what was the circumstances about it, and he said he was asked to meet him at the Red Cow and he said this is what he said. And he also said that he grabbed his arm as he was getting out of the car and said, ‘it’s very serious, it’s very serious’.

Yesterday, JohnMcGuinness’ legal representative Daren Lehane BL said his client’s evidence will be the same as Sgt McCabe – except he will say he told Sgt McCabe Mr Callinan told him that Sgt McCabe had abused “your children” and nieces, as opposed to “all” your children and nieces.

Readers should note on May 26, 2016, during a speech in the Dail about the death of Shane O’Farrell in Monaghan, Mr McGuinness mentioned this meeting with Mr Callinan in the Dail.

He told the Dáil

Every effort was made by those within the Garda Síochána at senior level to discredit Garda Maurice McCabe.

The Garda Commissioner confided in me in a car park on the Naas Road that Garda McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him.

The vile stories that circulated about Garda McCabe, which were promoted by senior officers in the Garda, were absolutely appalling. Because they attempted to discredit him, he had to bring forward various pieces of strong evidence to protect his integrity.

Continue reading

Kathleen O’Toole and Noirin O’Sullivan

Last May, Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle Police Chief and formerly of the Garda Siochana Inspectorate, was appointed to lead the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

This was to be a root and branch review in the wake of  scandals on several fronts within the force.

Criticism was made at the time that Ms O’Toole had, in her previous role in Phoenix Park, helped select Noirin O’Sullivan as Garda Commissioner in 2014.

But the appointment went ahead.

Last September, Noirin O’Sullivan stood down as commissioner amid pressure over the slow rate of Garda reform and her own role in the Sgt Maurice McCabe saga.

In October, Ms O’Sullivan was appointed as director of strategic partnerships for Europe with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

The IACP is based in Virginia, United States, and has among its executive committee…head of the Commission on Future Policing in Ireland, Kathleen O’Toole.


Previously: The Future Of An GardSiochana


Clockwise from top left: Lorraine and Maurice McCabe; Frances Fitzgerald, Noirin O’Sullivan, Ken O’Leary, Michael Flahive, Noel Waters


At the tail-end of former Tanaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s appearance at the Disclosures Tribunal.

Ms Fitzgerald said on two occasions that she made a “conscious decision” in respect of an email she received on May 15, 2015, about Sgt Maurice McCabe and the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Readers will recall how the email – originally sent by the then assistant secretary at the Department of Justice Michael Flahive to Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary Chris Quattrociocchi on May 15, 2015 and then forwarded on to Ms Fitzgerald and others – only emerged last November and largely led to her eventual resignation.

It was only disclosed to the tribunal after it emerged in November.

At the time, when calls were being made for her to resign, Ms Fitzgerald said, ad nauseam, that she couldn’t recall reading the email.

The Dail repeatedly heard from her, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, that she and/or the Department of Justice had “no hand, act or part” in forming the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan’s legal strategy at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Yet yesterday, in response to the suggestion from Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, that, once she got this email, she basically did nothing and consulted nobody – a suggestion repeatedly put to her last November – she responded to the claim somewhat differently.

She told the tribunal that she wouldn’t frame what happened in the manner Mr McGuinness suggested.

Instead, she said: “I made a conscious decision to obviously not interfere with the Commission of Investigation in anyway because I would have seen it as inappropriate.”

She also said: “I made a conscious decision that Judge O’Higgins would deal with whatever issues, as I expected he would, at the Commission.”

As mentioned above, Mr Flahive sent the email to Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary Chris Quattrociocchi on May 15, 2015, at 4.57pm.

It was sent following a flurry of messages sent from solicitor Annemarie Ryan, of the Chief State Solicitor’s office to Michael Dreelan, of the Attorney General’s office, who in turned contacted his superior at the AG office, Richard Barrett, who in turn went on to contact Mr Flahive – who then wrote to Mr Quattrociocchi.

[Readers will recall how the tribunal has already heard that Ms Ryan wrote down “political dynamite” in a note about what she saw occurring at the O’Higgins Commission on May 15, 2015, and her knowledge of the situation].

But, going back to Mr Flahive’s email to Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary.

It was sent after the following sequence of events…

From 3.10pm to 3.36pm: The O’Higgins Commission of Investigation adjourned to allow Colm Smyth SC, for Noirin O’Sullivan and other gardai, get instructions after a row broke out over a line of questioning being taken in relation to Sgt Maurice McCabe when evidence was being given by Chief Supt Colm Rooney.

From 3.26pm to 3.40pm: Noirin O’Sullivan spoke on the phone with the then Secretary General of the Department of Justice Noel Waters for around 14 minutes.

Neither Ms O’Sullivan nor Mr Waters kept notes of this call and neither have any real recollection of what was specifically discussed.

At 3.29pm: Noirin O’Sullivan’s counsel sent her a short “letter of comfort” or written advices to her, via her liaison officer at the commission Chief Supt Fergus Healy, saying: “In particular, we consider it necessary and in the interests of a fair and balanced examination of the subject matter of the investigation, that specific issues be put to Sgt. McCabe regarding his conduct and interactions with senior management following the completion of a formal garda investigation into a complaint against Sgt. McCabe which resulted in a direction by the DPP that no further action was to be taken against Sgt. McCabe.”

At 4.10pm: The O’Higgins Commission adjourned for a second time to allow Mr Smyth get his instructions reconfirmed.

At 4.16pm: The then Assistant Secretary to the Department of Justice Ken O’Leary spoke to Noirin O’Sullivan on the phone for around three minutes.

Mr O’Leary has given evidence that there were two “hurried phone calls” that afternoon but Ms O’Sullivan has told the tribunal that doesn’t accord with her memory or record of events.

There are no notes of these calls.

But Mr O’Leary’s evidence has been that during the first call Ms O’Sullivan told him an issue had arisen at the commission and asked him if there was anything that he believed she should be mindful of.

The tribunal has also heard that in his statement to the tribunal, Mr O’Leary said Ms O’Sullivan called him.

But this week, when he gave evidence, he said he was changing that stance.

He said: “I’m changing it to the extent that I think it may have been that I had been on the telephone to the Commissioner or the Commissioner had another phone, that isn’t included in the records.”

At 4.34pm: The O’Higgins Commission of Investigation resumed and Colm Smyth SC, for Ms O’Sullivan and other gardai, told Judge O’Higgins that his instructions were reconfirmed – which were to challenge the credibility and motivation of Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Mr Smyth also told the commission that afternoon that Ms O’Sullivan was challenging Sgt McCabe’s “integrity” but later, in late June 2015, Mr Smyth told the commission this was an error on his part.


In a nutshell.

The sequence of those communications shows Ms O’Sullivan spoke to officials from the Department of Justice before Mr Smyth’s instructions were reconfirmed..

Both Mr O’Leary and Mr Waters, although they have no notes and no specific recollection, say they would not have given advice to Ms O’Sullivan on how to instruct her legal counsel.

In addition, Ms O’Sullivan, despite also not having any specific recollection of these calls, also told the tribunal:

“At no time did I discuss or seek approval/advice from the Department in respect of my instructions or otherwise to counsel. In fact, instructions had already been given to counsel. An Garda Síochána was represented independently from the Department of Justice at the Commission, and as such, the Department have no involvement in any instructions given by me to counsel.”

So where does Ms Fitzgerald fit into this?

And what of the famous May 15 2015 email?


It should be noted that the two Department of Justice officials Ms O’Sullivan spoke to before her instructions were reconfirmed – namely Ken O’Leary and Noel Waters – also got the email.

And not only that, before the email was sent, Mr O’Leary had had a telephone conversation with Mr Flahive – who called Mr O’Leary after he had been contacted by Richard Barrett, of the Attorney General’s office, as previously mentioned.

During that phone call, Mr O’Leary disclosed to Mr Flahive that he had spoken to Ms O’Sullivan on the phone twice – but Mr Flahive didn’t disclose this detail in the email to the minister.

Mr O’Leary said that he himself had been thinking of drawing up an email for the minister but was happy for Mr Flahive to do so, as he felt it was more appropriate for Mr Flahive to contact Ms Fitzgerald.

Mr O’Leary told the tribunal:

“The Minister, in my view, could have had no role in relation to the Garda case at the Commission, and contacts between the Commissioner and the Minister about the Commission, once it was going on, I was a bit uneasy about. But while I was thinking of what I might say to the Minister, Michael Flahive was on to me. His information had come from the Attorney General’s office, and it seemed to me that was, for want of a better phrase, a legitimate route for the Minister to get the information. And we agreed that he’d write an email setting out the conversations that he had or conversation that he had with Richard Barrett in the Attorney’s office.”

Amid talk of inappropriate contacts, it should be noted, during Mr O’Leary’s evidence, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, pointedly noted that:

“She [Ms O’Sullivan] discussed matters with you that had arisen at the O’Higgins Commission in private…On an informal basis, she [Ms O’Sullivan] was happy to discuss it with you…”

But back to the email…

In addition to sending the email to Mr Quattrociocchi, Mr Flahive also cc-ed the now famous 4.57pm email to Mr Waters, by way of a Sec Gen Office group email address, Mr O’Leary and the department’s principal officer for policing Martin Power.

After Mr Quattrociocchi got the email, he bounced it on, at 5.04pm, to, as mentioned above, Ms Fitzgerald, and also to her two special advisors Fine Gael councillor Willliam Lavelle and Marion Mannion.

The tribunal has heard that, in all, ten people received the email.

Of this ten, the following people have been asked if they could recall reading the email.

These were their responses:

Mr Waters said: “I have no recollection of that email, but my private secretary advises that he received that and that he brought it to my attention on the following Monday, the 18th, and that I — he subsequently sent back an email to the writer, to Michael Flahive, to say that I had noted it.”

Mr Quattrociocchi: “I don’t have specific recollection, no.”

Mr Waters’ private secretary Denis Griffin, who was on the Sec Gen Office email group: “No, I don’t actually receiving it” [sic].

Dale Sunderland, a former principal officer and Head of Communications and Corporate Secretariat at the Department of Justice, who also got the email as part of the Sec Gen Office email group, said: “I don’t specifically have a memory of reading it, but I’m quite sure I did read it because I always made it my business to read all my emails.”

Bernadette Phelan, assistant principal officer in the corporate secretariat office in the Department of Justice and Equality, who was also in the Sec Gen Office email group, said: “I don’t recall reading the email.”

Paula Monks, clerical officer in the Department of Justice, who was also in the Sec Gen Office group said: “I don’t, no.”

Mr Lavelle was the only person to recall reading it, saying: “I have a vague recollection of reading it, yes.”

He also said he felt it was a “unique” email and he felt it was “inappropriate” to receive it.

He said he couldn’t recall any other such email from Mr Flahive to the minister that made him feel uncomfortable.

However, he said he never raised it or discussed it with Ms Fitzgerald.

Ms Mannion hasn’t appeared before the tribunal. The tribunal has also heard that she hasn’t given a statement to the tribunal to date.

Interestingly, Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal, pointed out, while Mr Quattrociocchi was giving evidence that, after the  Irish Examiner and RTE reported on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation almost exactly a year later, on or around May 13, 2016 – Ms Fitzgerald had a meeting with Ms O’Sullivan about the O’Higgins commission of investigation.

There was a comprehensive briefing of the meeting prepared for Ms Fitzgerald but it failed to mention the May 15 email, prompting Ms Leader to suggest:

“It would appear, for one way or another, that the information which was transmitted to the Minister on the 15th May 2015 has been, if I can, wiped from history in relation to this particular briefing,”

But, again, why does this email matter?

Mr Flahive’s email was fundamentally wrong.

It claimed – and it was based on fourth-hand information – that the legal row at the O’Higgins Commission centred on counsel for An Garda Siochana raising Ms D’s IRM complaint about the 2006 investigation into her allegation against Sgt McCabe at the commission.

[The tribunal has already heard that Ms D felt the original investigation into her complaint of 2006 wasn’t investigated properly and thus, wanted it included in the IRM. Ms D also made a complaint to GSOC about the 2006/2007 investigation.]

This wasn’t the case. As mentioned above, the legal row at the commission centred on the line of questioning being taken by Mr Smyth when Chief Supt Colm Rooney was giving evidence at the commission and said Sgt McCabe wanted the DPP’s directions – which exonerated Sgt McCabe – challenged.


Even though the claim made about the row in the letter was wrong, many have been wondering why Ms Fitzgerald didn’t become concerned – or why alarm bells didn’t ring out – when she saw the claim about Ms D’s IRM complaint being raised at the commission, given the IRM counsel had ruled in November 2014 that the matter was not to be included in the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Yesterday, the tribunal heard that GSOC sent a nine-page report to Martin Power, a principal officer in the Department of Justice, outlining that it found nothing wrong with the investigation into Ms D’s complaint on May 21, 2015 – six days after the famous May 15, 2015 email.

GSOC specifically asked for Ms Fitzgerald to be told of this.

When Mr Power gave evidence yesterday, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Mr Power when he gave this to the minister.

Mr Power said he couldn’t recall.

Mr McDowell also asked him he would have made a link between the May 15 email and the May 21 GSOC report in respect of the Ms D matter and Sgt McCabe.

Again, like many witnesses before him, Mr Power said he couldn’t recall and state if he made the connection at the time.

But then.

The hearing was briefly adjourned when Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal interrupted to say Mr Power had signed an affidavit of discovery in May 2017 and that documents discovered to the tribunal related to this GSOC report.

After the brief adjournment, Ms Leader explained that these documents discovered showed the GSOC report was sent by Frank McDermott, assistant principal officer in the policing division at the Department of Justice, to Ms Fitzgerald’s private secretary Chris Quattrociocchi on the very same day it was received – May 21, 2015.

Suddenly Mr Power remembered.

The tribunal then heard the document that was sent to Mr Quattrociocchi had also been forwarded to Noel Waters, Ken O’Leary, Michael Flahive and Martin Power.

And, furthermore, it heard that an 11-page submission – written by a Mr English, also of the garda division within the department and containing the nine-page GSOC report – was sent to Minister Fitzgerald on May 27, 2015.

The tribunal hear Mr Power wrote a covering submission for that submission which was entitled “Complaint by Ms. D, alleged cover-up by Gardaí of assault allegation against Sergeant Maurice McCabe.”

The covering submission was for Michael Flahive whom, it appears, saw it on June 2, 2015 – based on a handwritten note on the document.


In the covering submission, Mr Power wrote: “I think the alleged sexual assault was referred to in a particular context during the recent, initial hearings of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation”.

Ms Leader asked Mr Power what he thought that referred to.

Mr Power told the tribunal: “I think certainly it’s a reference to the email of the 15th May, wherein the initial reference was made to the issue that had arisen at the O’Higgins Commission that day, and I suspect that either on foot of that then at that time or when this report came in I inquired as to whether there was a link, and clearly — well, I say I think it refers to that”

In turn, Mr McDowell asked Mr Power if it was just “forgetfulness” that caused him to say he couldn’t recall making the link.

Mr Power said: “I simply didn’t recall this submission at that time. But I am happy to say that it’s clear that at the time I sought to make the link, if it was appropriate to make the link and bring it to Michael’s attention who would have certainly been able to make the link if it was an accurate link..”

[Incidentally, May 21, 2015 was the same day Ms O’Sullivan held a private consultation with Colm Smyth SC in her office – a meeting of which there are no notes and, despite taking place just six days after the legal row at the commission, Mr Smyth said they didn’t discuss instructions or the row. Ms O’Sullivan can’t recall any specifics about it.]

Ms Fitzgerald hasn’t been asked yet about her knowledge of the GSOC investigation’s conclusions in May 2015 – but it’s likely she’ll be asked the same question that Mr Power was asked: would she have linked the GSOC report with the May 15 email and would it not have caused her some concern or prompted her to take some action?

Yesterday, she gave about two hours of evidence.

Half of that involved counsel for the tribunal asking her about the email of May 15, 2015 and her lack of a response to it.

Mr McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, asked her, repeatedly, why it didn’t set off alarm bells for her?; why she didn’t ask herself ‘what is going on?’; why, if she didn’t feel she had precise details, did she not speak to Mr Flahive about the matter?; why, if she didn’t think it appropriate to ask questions, why she didn’t ask the Department of Justice’s counsel to speak to An Garda Siochana’s counsel?

Ms Fitzgerald responded in the same way as last November: she didn’t think it was appropriate and that she felt it was a matter for Judge O’Higgins.

She said she never consulted with Ms O’Sullivan, Mr Waters, Mr Power, Mr Flahive, any of her advisors, or anyone else copied into the email.

She said she wasn’t aware of the phonecalls between Ms O’Sullivan and Mr O’Leary and she also wasn’t aware of the solicitor Annemarie Ryan’s “political dynamite” concerns about a judicial review.

And then, at the end, she said she made a “conscious decision” not to do anything.


Ms Fitzgerald will resume questioning this morning at 10am.

Previously: Disclosures, Discrepancies And Noirin

Disclosures Tribunal on Broadsheet