Tag Archives: The Disclosures Tribunal

From top: Justice Peter Charleton ; PR boss Terry Prone, who, it emerged during the Disclosure tribunal, had been advising both Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

This afternoon.

From the Disclosures Tribunal report.

Justice Peter Charelton writes:

One other matter is worthy of comment. A close reading of the chronology will indicate the extent to which a public controversy began to grow in florid form following on the deception of the media by the persons who leaked selected extracts from the O’Higgins Commission transcript.

This led to a flurry of emails, memoranda, communications at high level, drafts, counter drafts and final drafts about the Garda Commissioner’s approach to those who point out irregularities within our police force.

The tribunal is far from impressed by any of this.

It seems that our public life is now to be dominated by spin and that plain speaking is elided in favour of meaningless public relations speak.

This is a hideous development in Irish public life.

We have been brought to a situation where those who genuinely know their job are expected to put things in a form which no longer garners respect and which is far from the requirement of plain speaking.

It is frankly bizarre that when the Garda Commissioner is asked about her approach to a matter of serious public importance, she is not left alone to answer from her own mind.

But instead that comments and suggestions amounting to drafts of letters of several thousand words are whizzed over in her direction so that she can send the same thing back again.

The public are then expected to digest this as being her utterance.

The tribunal found this practice unworthy of our public service. It adds to the sense of public distrust in the key institutions of the State.

Public service is not about public relations.

Plain speaking by those who know what they are talking about is the only acceptable way to address the Irish people.”

Earlier: Justice Charelton on…

Previously: Frances Noirin And Tess


“What has been unnerving about more than 100 days of hearings in this tribunal is that a person who stood up for better standards in our national police force, Sergeant Maurice McCabe, and who exemplified hard work in his own calling, was repulsively denigrated for being no more than a good citizen and police officer.

…The question has to be asked as to why what is best, what demands hard work, is not the calling of every single person who takes on the job of service to Ireland.

Worse still is the question of how it is that decent people, of whom Maurice McCabe emerges as a paradigm, are so shamefully treated when rightly they demand that we do better.

Justice Peter Charleton

This afternoon.

Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton’s third interim report on the Disclosures Tribunal has been published.

It is broken into three separate reports – each with their own chronology of events.

The three reports focus on:

– The HSE and TUSLA matter.

– What happened at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

– Attacks on the character of Sgt Maurice McCabe.

In relation to the HSE and TUSLA matter:

In 2006, the 14-year-old daughter of a colleague of Sgt McCabe alleged that during a game of hide and seek back in 1998, when she was about six, Sgt McCabe pressed against her. Ms D used the word “humping” in her Garda statement.

Ms D made the allegation in a statement to gardai in December 2006, about 11 months after her father, Mr D, lost his position and was reverted to other duties, following a report made by Sgt McCabe against Mr D for attending the scene of a suicide after drinking alcohol.

Ms D’s allegation was investigated by Supt Noel Cunningham and, in 2007, the DPP ordered that there was no basis for any prosecution.

Specifically, the DPP found:

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

Six years later, in July and August 2013, Ms D told the allegation to a RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy during counselling sessions.

Judge Charleton found Ms D unambiguously understood that by identifying the person at the centre of her 2006 allegation – while she was undergoing counselling – that Ms Brophy would be compelled to refer the matter to TUSLA who would then pass it on to the gardaí.

Ms D identified Sgt McCabe as the person at the centre of her allegation and Ms Brophy referred the matter to TUSLA but she sent a botched referral which referred to an allegation of rape pertaining to a whole different client and had nothing to do with Sgt McCabe.

Judge Charleton found this was a “mistake” by Ms Brophy.

A letter was sent from TUSLA to Supt Noel Cunningham – seeking clarity on the 2006 investigation – but this letter was never answered and, Judge Charleton noted, “was supposedly only discovered four years later”.

Judge Charleton found:

“This matter was an unbelievable coincidence. Yet, as it emerges, despite its bizarre nature, this was a genuine mistake.”

Given the unequivocal direction of the DPP in 2006, Judge Charleton found:

There was thereafter no basis upon which anyone could legitimately accuse Maurice McCabe of having assaulted or sexually assaulted a young girl. Thereafter, there was no basis for accosting Maurice McCabe with this allegation or seeking to demean him.

And yet…

In or around New Year’s Day 2016, TUSLA wrote to Sgt McCabe to say it was examining the false allegation of rape which had been initially made in a botched referral in 2013 and revived in April/May 2014 and circulated to An Garda Siochana – all the way up to the Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s office.

Judge Charleton found:

“When a justifiably angry letter of protest was sent in response by solicitors for Maurice McCabe, social services made no proper response and never wrote to the McCabe family pointing out how the error was made.

“That situation continued all the way up to the start of this tribunal. It was only
then that the sequencing of the error was uncovered by the tribunal investigators.

Local social services in Cavan/Monaghan failed in their duty to report the error to administrative headquarters in Dublin up until 24 January 2017. This was extraordinary because less significant issues continued to be notified at regular monthly meetings between local and national management.

“Had an admission as to what had happened then been made by TUSLA, this tribunal might not have been necessary. TUSLA were slow to respond to the public request for cooperation by the tribunal. Statements made were laconic to the point of being mysterious. The tribunal had to seek further information and identify witnesses who might cast light on matters, who had not yet revealed themselves.

“These then had to be called in evidence, as from them emerged important evidence. This kind of holding back is bad enough from a private citizen, never mind a public

Judge Charleton heavily criticised TUSLA for how it handled matters in 2014 – when the false rape file was selected from a filing cabinet, having sat there from the summer of 2013, and was recirculated before ending up with An Garda Siochana.

He found:

“The tribunal cannot identify the mind behind the decision to revive the matter at that point but the tribunal regards the explanation of mere coincidence as wholly unconvincing. As to whether it was either Laura Connolly or Eileen Argue or someone directing either of them, there is insufficient evidence to make a decision.

The reality is that someone within TUSLA realised that they had what they perceived to be unfinished business with Maurice McCabe and decided that for the avoidance of trouble, the business should then be dealt with. This was not, as was related to the tribunal, a coincidence. It is very disappointing that the tribunal could not have been told by TUSLA what actually happened.”

In regards to Ms D’s allegation having been sent to the gardai in both 2006 and 2014 (this time as a false rape allegation), Judge Charleton found:

“The tribunal has been expected by TUSLA personnel to believe something that does not make sense of any kind. It is plain sense that the same allegation does not need to be notified to the gardaí twice.”

He said it was “mystifying” as to why the allegation was sent to the gardai in 2014.

Recalling the errors which led to this occurring, Judge Charleton found:

“Reviewing this account of error upon error, of not attending to duty upon not attending to duty, of not abiding by guidelines and of reporting the same matter multiple times to the police, when the police had in fact originally referred the matter to social services, the tribunal is left utterly dispirited.

The false rape allegation was first received from TUSLA by Supt Leo McGinn and then sent up the chain of command of An Garda Siochana – first to Chief Supt Jim Sheridan.

Judge Charleton found that:

“There was nothing inappropriate about the actions of Superintendent McGinn in referring the matter to his chief superintendent. That was the right thing to do at the time.”

Judge Charleton found that RIAN counsellor Laura Brophy acted appropriately when, in May 2014, after it had already been sent to the gardai, she discovered that she had made an error in sending an incorrect rape allegation to TUSLA.

[She became aware of this because once Supt McGinn got the false rape referral, he spoke with Mr D, Mr D then spoke with Ms D and, in turn, Ms D made contact with Ms Brophy – to tell her she never made any allegation of rape]

But Judge Charleton found that TUSLA did not act appropriately.

He found:

The erroneous garda notification prepared by Laura Connolly [of TUSLA] dated 2 May 2014 remained on the TUSLA file in a kind of nuclear half-life that had later damaging consequences. That kind of administrative incompetence is shocking. Plainly, if it was to be retained on the TUSLA file, it should have been stamped as erroneous or mistaken or those words should have been plainly written across the relevant documents.”

In relation to Chief Supt Sheridan’s handling of the false rape allegation, Judge Charleton found:

Despite the fact that Chief Superintendent Sheridan had been informed by Superintendent McGinn that Ms D had not made the rape offence complaint as contained in the TUSLA notification, he forwarded the incorrect notification up the line. This kept alive in garda administration files an allegation of a rape offence that no one had ever made against Maurice McCabe. This was inappropriate and extraordinary.”

Judge Charleton also criticised Chief Supt Sheridan for the manner in which he passed the false rape complaint up to the assistant commissioner for the Northern Region, Kieran Kenny.

He found:

Chief Superintendent Sheridan did not make any reference to his knowledge that the TUSLA referral form attached to the letter was completely incorrect. The assistant commissioner did not know that no one had ever accused Maurice McCabe of digital penetration, a rape offence, but yet this notification passed on that allegation as if it had been made by Ms D. It never was.”

He added:

“There is no explanation other than that a false allegation against Maurice McCabe of a rape offence had been passed from a chief superintendent to an assistant commissioner. This is incomprehensible.”

After the false rape allegation reached now retired Asst Comm Kenny, it was forwarded to the Garda Commissioner’s office.

At this point, Asst Comm Kenny had read the original 2006 file. Judge Charleton found:

“At that stage, but only at that stage, it could be said, as Assistant Commissioner Kenny testified, he did not really know if this new notification of a rape offence was somehow an extension of the prior allegation of Ms D. If that was so, then he should have paused and sought further information before reporting this false allegation as fact. This suggests to the tribunal that Maurice McCabe was outside the ranks of those entitled to ordinary consideration.”

Judge Charleton went on to find that “one of the most disturbing aspects of this” is that after Asst Comm Kenny was notified that the rape allegation which was sent to the Commissioner’s office was incorrect “Assistant Commissioner Kenny never disclosed to Headquarters that the allegation had been made in error”.

Judge Charleton added:

Assistant Commissioner Kenny left the administrative centre of the national police force with false information that a person from within garda ranks who was complaining about police standards had been the subject of a rape offence allegation.”

Judge Charleton found it was “not right” that Mr Kenny had left “Garda Headquarters and the Garda Commissioner with an allegation of a rape offence against Maurice McCabe which no one had ever made.”

He further noted:

The tribunal cannot accept that there was any reason consistent with the proper and fair-minded discharge of duties that could explain why Garda Headquarters and the Garda Commissioner were left with a report against Maurice McCabe that a young woman had alleged he had committed a rape offence.”

Former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was shown the false rape allegation, presented as a ‘true’ allegation, by her private secretary Frank Walsh in May 2014.

Superintendent Walsh ‘s evidence was that Ms O’Sullivan read the incorrect notification but he couldn’t recall her saying anything or reacting in any way to it. It was Ms O’Sullivan’s evidence that she couldn’t remember reading it.

In August 2014, there was a meeting between Ms O’Sullivan, Mr Kenny and Sgt McCabe about workplace matters.

Sgt McCabe was not told of the false rape allegation which had been circulated about him at this meeting.

A month earlier, in July 2014, there was a meeting between Asst Comm Kenny, Chief Supt Sheridan, Supt McGinn and Sgt Karen Duffy in Mullingar – during which the matter of the mistaken rape referral was discussed.

Two things were supposedly agreed to have taken place following that meeting – that the head of legal affairs Ken Ruane would be notified and that the HSE would be contacted.

But neither of these two things occurred.

Judge Charleton said he found it “extraordinary” that Supt Noel Cunningham (who carried out the 2006 investigation) wasn’t invited to this meeting.

He found:

“Superintendent Noel Cunningham should have been at this meeting. His absence, and the complete absence of any rational excuse for not inviting him, casts a pall of unreality over testimony about that gathering.”

Judge Charleton added:

“Enough time was spent during the tribunal hearings on this meeting to offer some enlightenment. No enlightenment came.

The tribunal is not content to accept any one of the several broadly conforming accounts as to the purpose and content of this meeting. Little of that testimony struck home in the context of the already listed infirmities of the meeting.

“Certainly, the meeting would have been a reminder to Assistant Commissioner Kenny that he had made an incorrect report of a rape offence to Garda Headquarters against Maurice McCabe. But it resulted in nothing.

“Also, it might have reminded any sensible person that Superintendent Noel Cunningham would be worth talking to. No one did that. On its face, the minutes of the meeting display, at very best, a lack of clear thinking and an eminent level of inefficiency and woolly thinking.

As mentioned above, Sgt McCabe was in the dark about the false rape referral until TUSLA wrote to him on New Year’s Day 2016 – telling him it was investigating the rape allegation.

Judge Charleton found:

“Whatever was being tossed around in Mullingar [at the meeting in July 2014], it is impossible to conclude that what was afoot was some kind of plan to deliberately do down Maurice McCabe. No matter how any reasonable person may look at it, there could be no inkling that in consequence of the return of Ms D to counselling in 2013 and the word processing error in 2014, TUSLA would be so incompetent that a letter from them accusing Maurice McCabe of a rape offence would arrive at his home in January 2016.

“That, certainly, had nothing to do with the gardaí. Nor could anyone have predicted it.

He added:

As regards Garda Headquarters, is it right to question whether the making of, and the failure of someone of assistant commissioner level to correct, a plainly false but extremely damaging report of a rape offence testifies to a febrile atmosphere at the top levels of the organisation? There is insufficient evidence to state that on the basis of what is in this report alone. The tribunal is, however, driven to doubt bald assertions that fellow gardaí had no problems with Maurice McCabe. Some certainly did have problems with him. There is no doubt about that.”

In relation to the suggestion that members of An Garda Siochana interfered with TUSLA’s actions, Judge Charleton found:

“Certainly, the manner in which the allegation that was known to be false was sent to Garda Headquarters, and was left uncorrected, is a responsibility of the garda organisation.

“The incompetence of TUSLA, however, and the consequences generated by poor management within TUSLA has nothing to do with the gardaí.”

Judge Charleton criticised the events leading up to the letter about the false rape referral to Sgt McCabe on New Year’s Day in 2016 – in particular the actions of principal social worker Seamus Deeney.

He found: “The levels of non-application to duty are alarming. ”

But he found:

There is no basis, however, on which the tribunal could conclude it was because of any animus against Maurice McCabe.”

After receiving the letter from TUSLA in or around New Year’s Day 2016, Sgt McCabe’s solicitor Sean Costelloe wrote back to TUSLA and, in no uncertain terms, told TUSLA the rape allegation was ““wholly false and malicious” and “wholly untrue”. Mr Costelloe asked for an urgent reply from TUSLA.

But Sgt McCabe did not get a reply from TUSLA until the following June.

This reply accepted that the rape allegation was a mistake but it didn’t explain how the error occurred. Judge Charleton said “that is plainly what then should have happened”.

He commented:

“Within TUSLA, speaking collectively, those responsible for the series of errors that led to a direct accusation against Maurice McCabe of a rape offence knew: firstly, that he had never been accused of a rape offence by anyone; secondly, that a word processing error had led to an erroneously attributed accusation being recorded in a written file; thirdly, that this error had been passed on to the gardaí; fourthly, that when the error was identified, a correction and retraction were sent to the gardaí; fifthly, that this mistaken attribution remained on the TUSLA file as two mutually inconsistent reports to gardaí; sixthly, that within TUSLA there were senior personnel who knew or ought to have known of the origin and mistaken nature of these two inconsistent reports but did not share that information at an appropriate time; and, seventhly, that multiple failures to read the file fully resulted in the letter of 29 December 2015.

“It would have been very easy to respond to the justifiable disquiet expressed in the letters on behalf of Maurice McCabe by stating simply: a counsellor in Rian was in error in using as a template a completely unrelated document involving an allegation of another person and mistakenly ascribing a complaint of a rape offence against Maurice McCabe and that TUSLA, having carried it forward negligently into a referral to gardaí, is indeed sorry for its errors.

Had that happened, yes, there would have been some kind of investigation but probably not a tribunal of inquiry. The result of failure to face the facts, of a complete lack of black box thinking that demands to precisely know when an aircraft has gone down why that happened, has been justifiable public disquiet together with a gigantic expenditure of public money. This happened through not facing up to the problem and not being forthright about mistakes internal to TUSLA.”

More to follow.

Read full report here

From top: Sgt Maurice McCabe and Justice Peter Charleton

This morning.

We understand from an official source that the third interim report of the Disclosures Tribunal, looking into the alleged smearing of Garda Whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, will be delivered to the clerk of the Dáil before Midday.

More to follow.

Yesterday: ‘We’ll See’


From top: left to right: Michael McDowell, Lorraine McCabe and Sgt Maurice McCabe; The Sunday Times journalist and columnist Justine McCarthy and John Mooney, Crime Correspondent for The Sunday Times; A May 6 tweet from Mr Mooney.

Before and during the Disclosures Tribunal, solicitor Elizabeth Mullan, on behalf of Justice Peter Charlelton, reached out to journalists seeking any information that could help the tribunal meet its terms of reference.

Approaches were made with reporters who may have been in contact with Supt Dave Taylor from the summer of 2012 to the summer of 2014 – when he was head of the Garda Press Office.

In his response, John Mooney, security correspondent of The Sunday Times, to whom Supt Taylor claims he negatively briefed against Sgt Maurice McCabe but which Mr Mooney says isn’t the case, replied:

“It’s my practice as a journalist not to comment on news gathering activities and/or sources of information.

“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.”

On Friday, June 8, 2018, during the tribunal’s proceedings, a visibly exasperated Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton clashed with a separate journalist about privilege.

In the exchange,  Justice Charleton said:

“You apparently phoned him to tell him what you’d done, that is what he tells me, and then every time you are asked any question about that, you say journalistic privilege, journalistic privilege, journalistic privilege…

Well, for a start, I have to know the facts and circumstances on which you are basing that, and then, secondly, I actually need to know that you are actually telling me the truth because I can tell you, I’m not an idiot, and I have sat here for very close to 90 days, and I know…that an awful lot of people haven’t told me the truth.”

He added:

“…It’s not a question of adopting a position. If you think you have journalistic privilege, I will certainly listen to that, but you have to give me the facts and circumstances upon which you claim to base it…

“And at the moment I just can’t see how it arises, and unfortunately at the moment a reasonable person might see this as a complete smokescreen.

“I’m not saying whether I see it that way or not, but I’m here to listen.”

Mr Mooney was the first witness to give evidence the following Monday morning.

He told the tribunal he had decided to adopt a different approach to his earlier reply to Ms Mullan.

Mr Mooney said:

“I have given this matter some thought and notwithstanding the optics of this matter and the professional difficulties it poses for me, I do think it’s appropriate maybe that I do assist the Tribunal in whatever way I can.

“I personally wasn’t negatively briefed by Dave Taylor or any member of An Garda Síochána who attempted possibly to suggest that Sergeant McCabe was involved in child abuse or something like that. That didn’t happen with me.”

Mr Mooney who has worked in The Sunday Times since 2007, was the first journalist to name Sgt Maurice McCabe as having been at the centre of an internal Garda investigation into complaints about policing in the Cavan/Monaghan area.

This article was published on November 14, 2010, headlined ‘Internal inquiry clears gardai’.

In this article, Mr Mooney reported:

“An internal garda investigation into allegations of malpractice and indiscipline in the Cavan/Monaghan division has upheld complaints over the failure of officers to follow procedures, but found no evidence of corruption.

The inquiry led by Derek Byrne, an assistant garda commissioner in charge of national support services, was established two years ago to investigate claims by Maurice McCabe, a sergeant in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

…Byrne’s report was sent to Fachtna Murphy, the garda commissioner, last month. It is understood to have recommended sanctions against a number of officers, including McCabe.

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, referred to the third paragraph above and put it to him that it wasn’t true.

Mr Mooney replied:

“Well, at the time that was the information that I was provided with.”

Mr McDowell read out another line from the article which stated:

McCabe is now under investigation himself for alleged breaches of internal Garda regulations.”

Asked if this was correct, Mr Mooney said:

“My understanding of that was, when this issuing concerning the final report by Byrne/McGinn had been, I suppose, completed, that other areas had arisen. There was obviously this incident at the Hillgrove Hotel (see panel below) which I was aware or had become aware of, and I think there was the accessing information via Pulse and that kind of stuff.”

[Hillgrove Hotel in County Monaghan is where Sgt McCabe met Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne and Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn on October 11, 2010, when they informed Sgt Mcabe of the results of their investigation into his 42 complaints. During this meeting, Sgt McCabe produced PULSE print-outs to highlight his concern that  certain cases had not been followed up on. After an alleged confrontation, Byrne took the printouts from Sgt McCabe. Sgt McCabe subsequently made a complaint against Byrne and accused him of assault. The matter was investigated and the DPP ruled against a prosecution]

Mr Mooney continued:

“But just again to explain: We take a completely impartial view. If there are issues concerning, I suppose, the activities of a guard, whether he is acting rightly or wrongly, I also have to be absolutely straight down the line in our coverage of that. So there were issues around the Hillgrove Hotel, there was allegation and counter-allegations allegations being thrown, you know, quite freely around these matters. So we would have covered them and tried to cover it impartially.”

At the time of writing this article, Mr Mooney told the tribunal, he was aware of the 2006 Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe – which had been comprehensively dismissed by the DPP in April 2007.

He said it wasn’t told to him by a guard but, rather, a civilian. He subsequently checked out the rumour with a Garda source.

It should be said while he knew of the allegation in 2010, he said he wasn’t sure when he became aware of Ms D’s identity – it could have been 2014 or 2016.

Mr Mooney said he treated the Ms D matter as “gossip” and “noise” while explaining how he came to know about the allegation:

“I always kind of need to know what I don’t need to know. I had examined Sergeant McCabe’s complaints or became aware of them at that time and written a number of stories about it.

“Sergeant McCabe had made a number of very valid allegations about issues in policing in the Cavan-Monaghan area. Subsequent to that, I would have been contacted by lots of different people.

“I was working in the border area quite a lot at that time; dissident republican factions, I suppose, were becoming very active in late 2008, 2009. So meeting people up there wouldn’t have been a major issue to me.

“There was, someone made a very fleeting reference to an allegation against Sergeant McCabe. I subsequently made an inquiry about that and was told categorically that there was nothing in it.

“I didn’t pursue it any further for the simple reason that these matters are confidential by the health services, the guards and the other statutory agencies involved and I don’t think it’s appropriate for journalists to get involved in examining them or trying to second-guess any sort of proper investigation that has been taken — that is being undertaken. So, I left it at that.

“As far as I was concerned, I would be very aware of internal Garda procedures; if there was an allegation that was of any substance against a member of the force they would be at the minimum suspended.

“So the fact that Sergeant McCabe was still a sergeant would have clarified that for me. I didn’t get into looking at it in any great detail. As far as I was concerned I treat such matters as gossip and noise and that was it.”

When Mr Mooney gave evidence he was also asked about Paul Williams’ articles in the Irish Independent about Ms D and Sgt McCabe, though neither were identified, from April and May 2014.

In those four articles, Ms D complained about the 2006/2007 investigation into her complaint with Mr Williams reporting that she claimed “the incident was covered up through a botched investigation”.

In the articles, Ms D alleged the investigation was “flawed” and that she wanted to meet Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin to highlight her allegation that the matter had not been investigated properly.

One of Mr Williams’ articles also claimed Taoiseach Enda Kenny was “expected to order an investigation” into the matter.

Mr Mooney says when he read the articles, he suspected they were about Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

Mr Mooney told the tribunal he never made any further inquiries about the Ms D matter until after Katie Hannon, on RTÉ’s Prime Time, on February 9, 2017, outlined how the 2006 Ms D allegation of “dry humping” became an allegation of digital penetration, both vaginal and anal, in referral from a HSE counsellor, who had spoken with Ms D in July 2013, to Tusla and in a subsequent referral from Tusla to An Garda Síochána in May 2014.

Mr Mooney explained:

“When the matter became public following the Prime Time broadcast, I couldn’t understand the circumstances and how this thing with Tusla had arisen, so I did at the time send a message to Ms. D with a view to trying to establish what had happened.”

Mr Mooney said he identified Ms D through her father’s Facebook account.

[Mr D told the tribunal last summer that Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, contacted him via Facebook in early 2014 around the time other journalists – Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday; Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun – had called to the D family’s home. Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent, interviewed Ms D and published articles about her claim against Sgt McCabe in April and May 2014]

Ms D also gave evidence about this contact with Mr Mooney after the Prime Time programme in February 2017.

She said he had tried to contact her numerous times on Facebook.

She explained:

“I do recall I was away at a training day for a college course which I was attending, and he was Facebooking me constantly on the Saturday.

“So I explained that I was at a college course, I wasn’t able to talk. forwarded on the messages to my father and I asked my father if he would ring him and see what it was he wanted or what he wanted to speak to me about.

“I believe it may have been a couple of weeks later, once again, he had Facebooked me, and I do recall I rang him, I would say the call maybe lasted for about three minutes.

“I rang him because I wanted to know what he — why he kept at me, what he was wanting to know.

“And he made reference to — he asked me the question: Was your case investigated by the independent investigators which were looking at the Cavan-Monaghan district?”

In his article of February 12, 2017, Mr Mooney never made mention of any independent investigators and Sgt McCabe.

In terms of the DPP’s 2007 directions, Mr Mooney reported in his article: “The director of public prosecutions ruled that McCabe had no case to answer and the matters referred to did not even constitute an offence.”

The main focus of the article was on Supt Taylor and the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and his claim that he texted Ms O’Sullivan in early 2014 to tell her a journalist was going to write an article about Sgt McCabe and Ms D and that she replied “perfect”. [This is denied by Ms O’Sullivan].

Mr Mooney also referred to matters reported earlier that week by Ms Hannon concerning the false Tusla referral.

However, in addition, he reported:

In a statement issued to The Sunday Times yesterday, a solicitor instructed by the woman said she was approached by gardai from Cavan in May 2014 and informed them she had not made the complaint in question and knew nothing about the matter concerning Tusla.

My client did not know what the gardai were talking about. She did not know her counsellor had even made any referral to Tusla naming her as a complainant, nor had she made these specific allegations.

The gardai who contacted her quickly realised that Tusla had made a mistake and we understand the gardai immediately informed the child protection agency of this,” said the solicitor.

My client is deeply upset and traumatised by the events of the past week.”

This section of Mr Mooney’s article was put to Ms D when she gave evidence last summer, by Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, and they had the following exchange:

McDowell: “But the account given seems to be very wrong, in the sense that it wasn’t the Gardaí who approached you, it was your father?”

Ms D: “My father is a member of the Gardaí.”

McDowell: “I see. And then it was the Gardaí who told Tusla about the error, but it was you who did it?”

Ms D: “That’s correct.”

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, he was also asked about an interview he gave to Joe Finnegan on Northern Sound radio, which covers Cavan and Mongahan, in April 2016.

This interview was based on Mr Mooney’s sight of a leaked copy of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation report. The interview took place a day after the report had been handed to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

[The O’Higgins commission sat in private from May 2015 to December 2015 and examined allegations of poor policing in the Cavan/Monaghan district, following complaints made by Sgt McCabe]

Mr Mooney’s report on the O’Higgins findings was a couple of weeks before RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds’ broadcasts on the same which were the subject of a term of reference in the tribunal.

During the Northern Sound interview, which contained a number of significant factual errors none of which favoured Sgt McCabe, Mr Mooney said that Judge O’Higgins didn’t find gardai “were on the take” – an allegation Sgt McCabe never made.

Mr Mooney said:

“I think there is a lot of senior Gardai will be delighted with the findings about this, I think that it’s going to raise all sorts of issues for Enda Kenny in terms of when you look at Alan Shatter was removed, effectively removed from office on the basis of the Guerin Report. But it also does bring into question Maurice McCabe and some of the things that he said.”

In his report, Justice Higgins had stated unequivocally:

‘Some people, wrongly and unfairly, cast aspersions on Sergeant McCabe’s motives; others were ambivalent about them. Sergeant McCabe acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns, and the commission unreservedly accepts his bona fides.

Sergeant McCabe has shown courage, and performed a genuine public service at considerable personal cost. For this he is due the gratitude, not only of the general public, but also of An Garda Síochána.

While some of his complaints have not been upheld by this commission, Sergeant McCabe is a man of integrity, whom the public can trust in the exercise of his duties.”

Sgt McCabe subsequently sued Northern Sound and received damages.

Before Katie Hannon’s Prime Time report – on February 9, 2017, almost a year after the Northern Sound interview – Mr Mooney  spoke to RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke on Today with Seán O’Rourke.

This was in the wake of the setting of the terms of reference for what eventually became the Disclosures Tribunal and they discussed how Paul Reynolds’ reports on the O’Higgins commission were to be examined to see if they were linked to Ms O’Sullivan.

During the interview, Mr Mooney and Mr O’Rourke had the following exchange.

John Mooney: “And if I can go back to my own sort of interaction with the Garda Press Office and that kind of thing, pretty much all, a lot of communication that on — that sort of journalists who are maybe involved in reporting on matters against the Gardaí — guards tend to get threats to litigation and everything else.

“It’s not a case that you are given steers on anything, so this is a very small group of people who are involved in this. It’s not something that was spread, you know, across the media in general.

Seán O’Rourke: “Yes. But it’s going to preoccupy minds not least in this organisation here when there is a term of reference in item [g] to investigate whether Commissioner O’Sullivan used briefing material prepared in Garda Headquarters, planned and orchestrated broadcasts in RTÉ on 9th May 2016 purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins Report in which Sergeant McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible.”

Mooney: “Well, there’s a couple of different approaches you could take to that. There was a lot of people who were witnesses in the O’Higgins Commission and who were provided with draft copies and advance copies before it was published.

“And I can tell you in the days before that official publication of the O’Higgins Report there were lots of people who had possession of that. I am a little bit unsure as to why there is a belief that Nóirín O’Sullivan herself done that. Nóirín O’Sullivan doesn’t generally, to the best of my knowledge, deal with journalists. She is a very secretive sort of woman.

“Most of her actions with the media are adversarial, including those with RTÉ. So again, I can’t and I haven’t managed to find out where that specific allegation that she briefed the media, I presume you were going to say, came from, isn’t that right?”

The tribunal saw that the transcript of this interview was emailed by Amy Rose Harte, then of the Communications Clinic, to Ms O’Sullivan some two months later on April 20, 2017.

This Seán O’Rourke transcript wasn’t the only matter concerning Mr Mooney which was sent to Ms O’Sullivan from the Communications Clinic.

On July 16, 2017, at 3.51am, Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, sent an email to Ms O’Sullivan containing a link to an article written by Mr Mooney and published almost four hours earlier, just after midnight.

The article was headlined ‘Journalist denies garda chief smeared McCabe’ and it was about Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday.

[Ms McCann’s former Irish Mail on Sunday colleague Alison O’Reilly alleges that Ms McCann told her that Ms O’Sullivan and Supt Taylor were among her sources for information about Ms D. Ms McCann categorically denies this, as does Ms O’Sullivan. Ms McCann, the tribunal heard, was the first journalist to call to the D family in February 2014]

In this article, Mr Mooney reported on what he said was a “private interview” Ms McCann had with the tribunal’s investigators.

He reported:

“McCann said the research into Miss D was prompted by stories that had appeared in the Irish Independent about an unidentified woman who had complained about the garda force’s handling of an allegation of child abuse she had made.”

The tribunal never heard Ms McCann say this in evidence.

In contrast, the tribunal heard from Mr and Mrs D – as Ms D wasn’t at home at the time – that Ms McCann was the first journalist to call to the D house in late January or early February 2014 – before Mr Williams was even in contact with Mr D and, subsequently, Ms D.

It has been the evidence of Mr D and Mr Williams that it was, as a consequence of journalists such as Ms McCann and Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun, calling to the D family that prompted Ms D to speak to Mr Williams [though it’s the evidence of Ms Murray that she was at the house after Mr Williams].

The claim that Ms McCann was prompted by Mr Williams’ articles doesn’t make sense.

The tribunal heard she went to the D house in either January or February 2014 while Mr Williams’ first article on Ms D wasn’t published until April 12, 2014, after having interviewed Ms D on March 8, 2014 – part of which was videoed.

When Ms McCann gave evidence, she told the tribunal she had heard “murmurings” about Sgt McCabe around February 2014, made inquiries with a number of sources and then called to the D house – from which she was turned away by Mrs D.

Ms McCann is invoking privilege about her sources.

She told the tribunal that she would speak to Mr Williams “occasionally” and “he’s not somebody that I would speak to on an ongoing basis, or anything like that”.

Ms McCann also said she didn’t know Mr Williams had been to the D house in March 2014 and she didn’t know this until she saw his first article on April 12, 2014, at which point Ms McCann was on maternity leave.

Ms McCann said:

“I don’t know afterwards if he would have told me – possibly – but I didn’t know that he was there and I didn’t learn about this until I read it in the newspaper.”

Coincidentally, Mr Mooney’s article about Ms McCann appeared the very day before the D family gave evidence, on July 17, 2017, when they outlined how Ms McCann was the first journalist to call to their house and, as previously mentioned, it was a consequence of her and Ms Murray’s separate visits to the house that Ms D spoke to Mr Williams.

It wasn’t explained to the tribunal why the Seán O’Rourke transcript and the article about Ms McCann were sent by the Communications Clinic to Ms O’Sullivan but the tribunal did hear the Communications Clinic is paid to work on strategic communications with the Garda Press Office.

When Mr Mooney gave evidence to the tribunal, Mr McDowell put to him that it had been the evidence of Ms McCann that she didn’t believe being told the facts about Ms D and Sgt McCabe – that there had been an allegation made against Sgt McCabe, that there had been an investigation and that the DPP didn’t seek a prosecution – would constitute a “negative briefing”.

Mr McDowell asked Mr Mooney for his view.

Mr Mooney said:

“I suppose it would depend on the way it’s being said. If I can be really, really straight. When I initially checked this out and this reference was made to me, and it wasn’t a member of An Garda Síochána, I take the approach of trying to deal with senior police officers who are in a position of knowledge and would know, in other words may have access to the relevant files, they would by their rank have to know about these issues or have an independent and good understanding of it, and certainly when I asked the question, quote-unquote, there is nothing in this was said to me, in terms of, you know — like, that’s — that’s what I was told.”

Mr McDowell also asked Mr Mooney if he thought Supt Taylor was “entitled” to confirm the same facts to Mr Williams and Mr Mooney said: “Honestly speaking, no.”

Judge Charleton pointed out that, as a matter of fact, Supt Taylor wasn’t entitled to do so because the Garda Press Office does not comment on individual cases.

Mr Mooney went on to say:

“My view on that is, is that I personally — I can’t speak for the actions of other journalists, but my own personal belief is these matters are dealt with in a system, I believe in that system, and I don’t think it’s really helpful to anyone to have these matters thrashed out in any public forum, particularly when it’s an offence of this type. And I have to be frank with you, I haven’t encountered it in any other sphere in terms of information being relayed about these type of allegations to anyone.”

Mr McDowell put it to Mr Mooney that it’s his (McDowell’s) belief that to give “corroboration to that inquiry” amounts to a negative briefing.

Mr Mooney said he accepted Mr McDowell’s view and later said:

“Chairman, I take both sides, but I suppose the fact of the matter is, if something is published that is where it maybe becomes an issue, if that makes sense.”

In one of his final questions to Mr Mooney, Mr McDowell asked him if could recall saying on the radio [in his interview on Northern Sound] that there was “no substance” to the majority of complaints in the dossier that Sgt McCabe gave to Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin – this dossier lead to the O’Higgins inquiry.

Mr Mooney replied:

“Sorry, I think some of them, they were maybe embellished and matters like that, but I have to say, the real issue with this and having reported on it for unfortunately too long, is that allegations are made, they mutate into something else and then it becomes something else.

“Now, in the various materials that we have published about Sergeant McCabe we have stressed that I believed he was acting in the public interest, but in saying that, I think some things possibly may have been said in haste or whatever, and that they were inaccurate. And we have a duty to report that as well. But we don’t always get it right. But we would try keep it straight down the line.”

Mr McDowell clarified with Mr Mooney that he wasn’t trying to blame Mr Mooney.

Instead, Mr McDowell said, Mr Mooney wouldn’t have said what he said on Northern Sound unless he had been told by somebody that there was no substance to the complaints.

Mr McDowell put it to Mr Mooney: “You wouldn’t have invented that as a thought of your own.”

Mr Mooney said: “That’s correct” before adding:

“But we had — again, I go back, allegations are made, more allegations are made. At this point in time, I couldn’t even describe all the allegations that have been made because there’s so many of them.

“But I do think it’s important to say, and we published this and we published this right at the very beginning in 2009, I might have even written it in 2008 that Sergeant McCabe was acting in the public interest.”

The Garda legal team had no questions for Mr Mooney.

In the Garda legal team’s final submissions, Shane Murphy SC, for An Garda Síochána, did recall the evidence of Mr Mooney – along with Micheal O’Toole of the Irish Daily Star, and Conor Lally, of The Irish Times – that they had heard the allegation against Sgt McCabe as early as 2010 and heard it from a non-Garda source.

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

Mr Murphy referred to Mr Mooney, Mr O’Toole and Mr Lally’s evidence collectively three times in his final submission.

Justine McCarthy, of The Sunday Times, also appeared before the tribunal.

On the same day Mr Mooney published his article, on February 12, 2017, after Katie Hannon’s Prime Time report, which contained a quote from Ms D’s solicitor – the content of which Ms D told the tribunal was incorrect – Ms McCarthy wrote an opinion piece about Sgt McCabe.

The piece headlined ‘Name and shame the rumour-mongers who slurred Maurice McCabe’ recalled the April and May 2014 articles by Paul Williams in the Irish Independent.

Ms McCarthy wrote:

“Any journalist who had contemplated reporting on the allegations of misconduct being made by the whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe recognised him as the unidentified garda in Williams’s story.

“For we had been warned to treat McCabe with the utmost suspicion. Generally, it was crime reporters who received the warning from their garda sources, and relayed a tread-carefully SOS to non-crime beat colleagues, who get shorter shrift from the garda press office.”

In her opinion piece, Ms McCarthy asked if it was a coincidence that Mr Williams’ articles started to appear in the same month that Tusla created separate files on Sgt McCabe’s children “erroneously stating that he stood accused of penetrative child sexual assault?”

Ms McCarthy was asked by the tribunal’s counsel about this article.

She explained the piece was an opinion piece and that in regards to the line “generally it was crime reporters who received the warning”, Ms McCarthy said this was her impression “knowing how the system works”.

She also wrote:

“None of this is to impute wrongdoing by Williams, Reynolds or their colleagues. Journalists rely on contacts for information, protecting source’s anonymity is a cherished principle of the trade, but in this case trust was demolished in the relationship between some journalists and their sources. The debt is cancelled.

“Even in media outlets that refrain from reporting the spurious claims, the campaign to vilify McCabe exerted a chilling effect and is partly the reason this controversy has gone on for years. Apart from the anguish this caused the sergeant, his wife and their children, the relentless denigration of McCabe put the safety of Irish citizens at risk by deferring urgent examination of what is rotten in the country’s law enforcement. That is not to mention how such vicious campaign has accelerated the disintegration of public morality.

“Journalists, even if inadvertently, facilitated it by not properly interrogating the false rumours against McCabe. There is an onus on us now to correct the record. We can start by dispensing with the shield of protecting our sources. Why protect a source on whom you cannot rely to tell the truth? Those of us who know the identities of the rumour-mongers have a duty to the Charleton Commission and name those names. The journalist’s first obligation is to the truth.”

Ms McCarthy told the tribunal she believed the story was a “huge public interest story”.

She said:

“I suppose what I was talking about was the use of State agencies to undermine a whistleblower who was trying to put into the public domain information that was in the public interest.”

The tribunal heard when Ms McCarthy responded to the tribunal and wrote to the tribunal in December 2017, she gave the following view of journalistic privilege.

She said:

“My view on journalists obligations to protect sources is that it is a fundamental value designed to facilitate the emergence of information which is in the public interest. However, I believe that the obligation falls if a journalist’s source knowingly conveys false information for the purpose of damaging somebody’s reputation. In those circumstances I believe it’s a journalist’s duty to expose that wrongdoing. This doesn’t prevent the difficulty of course of ascertaining the source’s intentions and knowledge about the veracity or lack of it of the information conveyed.”

Ms McCarthy told the tribunal she was told about the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe by another journalist in 2013.

She said she was told shortly after she wrote about the profiling of a Traveller baby on PULSE in March 2013.

On being told this, Ms McCarthy said:

“I didn’t need to make a note because I was stopped in my tracks by what he told me. I was horrified. I have written a huge amount over the past two decades about child sexual abuse, I would nearly say it was my specialist subject, and the idea that this man had been accused of sexually abusing a child utterly shocked me.”

“I can’t remember the specific words that were said to me, but the impression I came away from the conversation with was that Sergeant McCabe had been accused of sexually abusing a child and that the issue had not been concluded.”

“…My impression was that it had not been investigated to conclusion.”

The tribunal heard Ms McCarthy, within days of hearing the Ms D allegation, made her own inquiries and learned that there had been an investigation, that a file had gone to the DPP and that there was no prosecution.

She said:

“I was told that not only had the DPP decided not to prosecute but the DPP had said no offence had been disclosed. That satisfied, was one of the reasons that I felt satisfied in my mind that the information that I had been given was not true.”

Ms McCarthy said when she was told of the Ms D matter, her exchange with the journalist wasn’t accompanied by any negative briefing of Sgt McCabe, and it wasn’t linked to his whistleblowing in any way.

Conor Dignam SC, for An Garda Síochána, asked Ms McCarthy several questions.

They had this exchange.

Conor Dignam: “…you have some journalists and some politicians who, on their account of things, were either told that one or both of the former commissioners were conducting a smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe by alleging various things against him but including this no-smoke-without-fire concept in relation to the sexual abuse allegations and, on one journalist’s account and two politicians’ accounts, this allegation was made to them directly by former Commissioner Callinan, but they didn’t pursue that either as a political matter or from a journalist point of view as a story, does that surprise you?

Justine McCarthy: “No. No, that doesn’t surprise me to write a story like that would have been extremely hard and it would have been very hard to find an organisation that would have published it. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that, just because journalists didn’t write this story, doesn’t mean that they didn’t disseminate the information.”

Dignam: “I appreciate that. But the evidence which has yet to be heard but from what we know from statements given to the Tribunal is that this information was simply received and nothing further was done. I take it your point about the difficulties of publishing a story like that, the difficulties of proving facts et cetera, but presumably a journalist, and particularly an investigative journalist’s modus operandi and objective is to dig out difficult stories and to hold power to account as we have heard over the last couple of days, but no such steps were taken to even investigate the story that the Commissioner was involved in or participating in or conducting a smear campaign?

McCarthy: “The first time I heard of a campaign was in relation to what David Taylor said.”

Dignam: “Could I be clear, this isn’t a criticism directed at you, Ms. McCarthy?”

McCarthy: “No, I understand that. No, I am just trying to explain that before the Taylor claim of a campaign I wouldn’t have thought of a campaign in my head. But there certainly were people spreading this story about Maurice McCabe.”

[Two days after an article by Ms McCarthy appeared in The Sunday Times, on July 23, 2017, about the evidence Paul Williams had just given to the tribunal, The Sunday Times published a clarification and apology to Mr Williams, Ciaran McGowan, a son of Nóirín O’Sullivan, and Independent News and Media. Ms McCarthy had erroneously stated that Mr McGowan was the videographer used by Mr Williams when he interviewed Ms D]

Monday: Maurice McCabe And INM

Yesterday: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times: Part 2

Wednesday: Maurice McCabe and The Irish Times: Part 1

Tuesday: Maurice McCabe And RTÈ

From top: Irish Times Security and Crime Editor Conor Lally (centre) and Paul O’Neill, Irish Times Editor (right); Mr Lally (third right), with the paper’s legal representatives at Dublin Castle; Sgt Maurice McCabe

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of the Irish Times having previously served as the paper’s crime correspondent and before that as a reporter with The Evening Herald and The Sunday Tribune.

The first article to name Sgt Maurice McCabe under Mr Lally’s byline appeared on January 24, 2014 and would provide a template for his coverage of this scandal over the next four years.

The piece concerned then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan’s attempts to block Sgt McCabe from appearing in front of the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Lally wrote:

Of Sgt McCabe, Mr Callinan said as a serving member of the force he could be subject to discipline.

While he didn’t want the message going out that he was considering such action, “it’s something I must reserve my position on”, he said. “How can I manage the force unless I have access to that kind of control?”

As a rule, he said, serving gardaí should not use an Oireachtas committee as a “platform” to air grievances or raise concerns about the force. The Commissioner should not be “usurped by subordinates”.

He stressed the allegations had been made by just two individuals from a force of over 13,000, adding there was not a “whisper” from any other garda that they were true.

This was the day after Mr Callinan, at the PAC meeting, described the actions of Sgt McCabe and Garda John Wilson as ‘disgusting’.

Mr Lally attended the PAC meeting but made no mention of the remark.

[Correction: Mr Lally did report on the ‘disgusting’ remark in an online article posted more than 24 hours after the PAC meeting at 7pm on Friday, January 24 , 2014 (paragraph 14 of this piece). This report, however, did not make any of the paper’s print editions.]

On Monday, January 27, 2014, Under the headline The Public Accounts Committee needs to know its limits on the penalty points saga. Mr Lally wrote:

“If the results suggested widespread abuse of discretion, all of the cases should have been investigated. If not, an independent body would have been seen to give the Garda a clean bill of health.

Before members of the Committee get too indignant about some Gardaí being perhaps too flaithulach in cancelling penalty points, they should remember that most public representatives run clinics to help constituents secure their entitlements a little faster than everyone else.”

During the tribunal, Mr Lally was asked about this statement by Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe.

Michael McDowell: “Now, this was your opinion, and you’re entitled to your opinion, but you were effectively warning the PAC off further involvement in this matter, isn’t that right?”

Conor Lally:
“Well, you see, you have left out the last paragraph there, and the last paragraph actually explains what the story is all about, and what the story is about is that the Garda Ombudsman Commission, in my view at the time, based on what I knew at the time, the Garda Ombudsman Commission would be a much better organisation to inquire into this.”


“The Sergeant McCabe controversy …”

“Well, better…”

“I haven’t finished answering the question. The Sergeant McCabe controversy was becoming very political at the time, as it was, and my view, as expressed in this piece, was, you would take some of the air out of that balloon by allowing the Garda Ombudsman inquire into, you know, certain aspects of the controversy. So I wasn’t trying to suggest for a moment that there should be no inquiry into all of these things, there certainly should have been, but I was simply suggesting that the Ombudsman would be a better organ than the Public Accounts Committee, that is all.”

McDowell: “I have got to suggest to you that that neatly coincided with the Commissioner’s view that this was not an appropriate or fair process for Sergeant McCabe to give evidence, even in private to?”

Lally: “No, I don’t — I wouldn’t agree with you there. I think Martin Callinan’s view was, he couldn’t quite believe that somebody of the rank of sergeant was, you know, kind of putting it up to him so well in public and I think he was outraged at that. Martin Callinan had a completely different theory on all of this than I did. You know, I don’t think I share any of Martin Callinan’s views on this or anything else, to be quite frank..”

In February 2014, following Sgt McCabe’s denial of an RTÉ story by Paul Reynolds that he didn’t co-operate with the internal Garda investigation into the penalty points, by then Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney investigation, Mr Lally wrote:

His [Sgt McCabe’s] intervention on Monday was extraordinary.

It was a direct challenge from a Garda sergeant to the commissioner in public and via the media, which is without precedent. Archaic as it might seem, even his contacting of the media is in breach of Garda rules.

Sources said his whistleblower status and high public profile mean he is untouchable to those who would want to discipline him.

In the same week, under the headline: McCabe has suffered bloody nose but there is plenty still to come, Mr Lally wrote:

The name of Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe may have only become fixed in the public consciousness in recent months, but Official Ireland has heard plenty from him over the years.

Detail about the frequency and nature of his complaints outlined by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in the Dáil yesterday painted a picture of a man who has busied himself for years in trying to expose what he sees as wholesale Garda corruption around him and not getting far.

Even allowing for the usual self serving nature of ministerial speeches, Shatter presented many facts that do not make easy reading for McCabe.

…Shatter has now set out a scenario of complaints being made repeatedly and not being upheld despite thorough investigation and of a complainant unable to accept those outcomes.

On the official appointment of Noirin O’Sullivan as Garda Commissioner in November, 2014 – having been acting the role since Martin Callinan stepped down in March 2014 – Mr Lally wrote in a piece headlined ‘Time for Garda Commissioner to use new broom’ on November 26, 2014, Mr Lally wrote:

In some quarters her appointment was greeted with delight and relief. It sidestepped the potential embarrassment of an “outsider” being brought in; an adult to sort out children who had got themselves in a bind, as it were.

Mr Lally added:

…It was when those allegations [that the penalty ponts system was continuing to be abused] emerged that O’Sullivan made her big play to convince everyone she was different to those who had gone before.

Rather than deny the allegations coming from whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe that the new system was still being abused, O’Sullivan metaphorically put her arm around him and held him close.

Mr Lally would remain an enthusiastic supporter of Ms O’Sullivan throughout her tenure.

When Ms O’Sullivan stonewalled intense questioning at the Public Accounts Committee in June, 2017, Mr Lally wrote in a piece headlined ‘Open disdain for Garda Commissioner from TDs and Senators’:

Key witnesses in murder trials have had an easier time in the witness box than Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan enjoyed before the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday.

To say many of the Senators and Dáil deputies applied distrust and incredulity as their default approach is an understatement. This was open disdain, pure and simple.

The most senior police officer in the country was at different times accused of talking down the clock, managing oversight processes to suit herself and was urged towards brevity in her responses, mostly while still mid-sentence…

On February 20, 2017, in an article that is currently the subject of legal action taken by Sgt McCabe against The Irish Times, Mr Lally interviewed Ms D.

Mr Lally’s article opened:

Eleven years after she made an allegation of sexual assault against Garda whistleblower Sergeant 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.

Later, Mr Lally added:

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.’

However, Mr Lally told the Disclosures Tribunal that he first heard of the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe in either 2010 or 2011 and he  believed, based on his understanding of the DPP’s directions, that the DPP never even entertained the allegation.

Mr Lally said “it was a dead piece of information from the off“.

If this was the case,  why did Mr Lally and his newspaper pursue Ms D and repeat something they knew not to be true?

Mr Lally later said he couldn’t say when he heard of the Ms D allegation, but that he first wrote about the penalty points issue in 2012 and it was his recollection that he knew about the allegation for a year, if not longer, at that stage.

He told the tribunal::

“I actually genuinely can’t recall who told me about this, but I do recall from the first time that I heard about it, it was put to me that there was an allegation made against him, that it was investigated by the guards, that the guards recommended to the DPP that there be no prosecution, and that there was no prosecution.

And I think the person who first told me used a phrase like, you know, the case was, quote-unquote, completely thrown out by the DPP.

So even from the outset it was very, very clear to me that this had gone absolutely nowhere. And from my recollection, even the person who told me, it was kind of in the context of, you know, Sergeant McCabe fell out with An Garda Síochána and this appears to have been the start of it all.

But there was nobody trying to drive home a point that he was a bad guy or you had to be wary of him, or anything like that. From my recollection, the kind of telling of this particular story was an explainer for how he fell out with Garda management, basically.”

Mr Lally said the Ms D matter was “definitely doing the rounds in journalism circles” in 2013 and 2014 but he couldn’t identify any specific journalists to whom he was referring. He said they seemed to have the same information that he had.

Asked if he felt the Ms D matter was being put “out there” in 2013/2014 to do Sgt McCabe down, Mr Lally said:

“I didn’t get that sense. I think, though, I mean, the journalism that I was doing at the time would have been quite favourable to him, so it is quite possible people in the guards just didn’t regard me as a person that you would go to and try to convince of anything.”

Mr Lally added:

“I feel anybody reading the journalism that I was doing at the time, you would read it, and I think if anybody wanted to spread a rumour about Sergeant McCabe, I think they would know they’d be in the wrong shop if they came to my door.”

Asked if he ever spoke to Supt Taylor about Sgt McCabe, Mr Lally told the tribunal that he found it difficult to discuss his conversations with Supt Taylor “without getting into sources” but repeated that, no garda, past of present, “negatively briefed” him about Sgt McCabe.

He later said that while it may sound “bizarre” – given Supt Taylor was the head of the Garda Press Office and that he was a crime correspondent – he couldn’t recall any conversation he had with Supt Taylor about Sgt McCabe.

On April 6, 2018, Mr Lally met with the tribunal’s investigators and brought with him a pre-prepared statement.

Mr Lally also claimed journalistic privilege over his phone number in billing records provided to the tribunal.

He told the investigators:

“I’m declining to answer that on the basis of journalistic privilege. I am concerned if I answer that question it may compromise sources and breach journalistic privilege.”

In his statement Mr Lally also said:

“You will appreciate that I am not in a position to comment in any way upon discussions I may or may not have had with Superintendent Taylor or anyone else, where I am precluded from doing so by virtue of my obligations to observe journalistic privilege.

“I can, however, say in a general sense that, in working as a crime correspondent, it is quite usual to speak to all of the interested parties in relation to a specific issue for the purposes of fact-gathering and for the interested parties to give me their perspective or understanding of a particular issue, which can differ from the account or perspective of another party.

“That is the normal part of the fact-gathering process as a journalist and is not something I or any of my journalistic colleagues regard as untoward. It is for me as a reasonable, responsible journalist to reflect the differing perspectives of all parties gathered over the course of this process either in the same piece of journalism or in a body of work on the same issue over time.”

“I do not believe there is any other information I have which is relevant to the Tribunal’s terms of reference or of assistance to the Tribunal in that regard. It may nevertheless be the case that there are questions you will ask me which give rise to a concern on my part that I would infringe journalistic privilege to answer them.

“Where that arises, I will rely on journalistic privilege and decline to answer the question. In doing so, I will mean no disrespect to the Tribunal or its work. As I have said, I believe I have, in any event, addressed above the extent of the information I can give relevant to the Tribunal and its terms of reference.”

It should be noted Mr Lally’s interview with Ms D took place shortly after Labour leader Brendan Howlin, during Leaders’ Questions in February 2017, told the Dáil:

“This morning a journalist contacted me and told me they had direct knowledge of calls made by the Garda Commissioner to journalists during 2013 and 2014 in the course of which the Commissioner made very serious allegations of sexual crimes having been committed by Sergeant Maurice McCabe.”

Mr Howlin was relaying to the Dáil what he was told by former Irish Mail on Sunday journalist Alison O’Reilly – who claims her former colleague Debbie McCann told her Ms O’Sullivan was a source for her, along with Supt Taylor, for information on Ms D.

[Both Ms McCann and Ms O”Sullivan deny this categorically while Mr Howlin has accepted it was incorrect of him to say he had ‘direct knowledge’ and incorrect to say journalists (plural)]

It should also be noted that Mr Howlin said this in the Dáil at a time when the Government was discussing and setting the terms of reference for a private Commission of Investigation by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton into Supt Taylor and Sgt McCabe’s protected disclosures – as opposed to what was eventually set up which was a public tribunal.

At the time of Mr Howlin’s comment in February 2017, the Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone was in possession of a letter from the chief operations officer of Tusla – since January 2017 – regarding the false rape allegation against Sgt McCabe which had been created mistakenly and committed to paper in August 2013 and sent to Tusla following on from a counselling session Ms D had in July/August 2013 (unbeknownst to Ms D).

This false allegation was reignited in April 2014 when the file was chosen randomly from a file in a Tusla office and sent to the gardai and eventually to the then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan in May 2014 – of which Ms O’Sullivan has no memory. It sat there until the start of the tribunal.

Sgt McCabe wasn’t told about this false rape referral until January 2016 – when Tusla wrote to him and told him it was investigating him for rape and, despite Sgt McCabe’s solicitor Sean Costello writing back to Tusla immediately to say the claim was entirely false, Tusla didn’t acknowledge it was false until the summer of 2016.

When Mr Howlin gave his contribution to the Dail in February 2017, the Cabinet wasn’t considering the Tusla matter for inclusion in the then pending commission of investigation.

On February 10, 2017 – two days after his comments in the Dáil but more crucially a day after Katie Hannon’s Prime Time programme on the Tusla matter and Mr Clifford’s reporting of the same on the Irish Examiner website that evening before Prime Time – Mr Howlin told Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One:

“It is staggering that the Tánaiste came into the Dáil this week with a set of references, terms of reference, for an investigation without mentioning any of this [the Tusla matter]. It staggers me to think that she wouldn’t have been fully briefed at the Cabinet table by her minister for children who, clearly, was in possession of this level of detail and that wasn’t presented in the terms of reference in relation to the involvement to Tusla in all of this. None of this was mentioned by the Tánaiste in the Dáil…”

He also said Ms O’Sullivan was entitled to the presumption of innocence but he did call for Ms O’Sullivan to stand aside until all the matters were dealt with.

Explaining how his interview with Ms D came about, Mr Lally told the tribunal:

“…the idea for the article came up within the newsroom in the Irish Times and it was organised completely independently of anybody in An Garda Síochána or anything like that.”

Mr McDowell asked Mr Lally when he first found out Ms D’s name – after Mr Lally confirmed that when he heard of the Ms D allegation back in 2010 or 2011, he didn’t hear it from a guard or the D family.

Mr Lally said it was “impossible” to say when he found out Ms D’s name.

But he later conceded that it was probably on the day The Irish Times and Mr Lally decided that he would try and interview Ms D.

He later reconfirmed that the source of Ms D’s identity was neither a guard nor a journalist.

He was also categorical that the reason he interviewed Ms D wasn’t to talk to her about her allegation but, instead, it was to interview her about the false rape allegation against Sgt McCabe which was created by a social worker, after counselling sessions with Ms D, and sent to Tusla – in error, the tribunal has been told.

Mr Lally said:

“I went off and found out who she was and where she lived…I found it out through a source. It was very easy to find out. But as I say, as I said earlier, it was a source completely independent of An Garda Síochána.

I mean, at that stage the Maurice McCabe controversy was extremely toxic… I made absolutely sure that I didn’t even ring any guards on the day that I organised that interview, because I felt it was possible my phone records could be checked or anything subsequently, so I was extremely careful, and nobody in the guards was even aware that I went up there.”

Clarifying his comment about nobody in the guards knowing of his visit to Ms D, Mr Lally explained that he didn’t want any record to show afterwards that he’d spoken to any garda about the matter.

Mr Lally said:

“Because, by 2017, a lot of people had got caught up in this controversy, a lot of people had lost their jobs, and I was watching my step very carefully, that’s why….as I said to you, the events were extremely toxic…

And I wanted to make sure — I wanted to insulate myself from getting caught up in any of that, so I was just extra careful, as I always am. It’s not the first time I would have deployed that kind of tactic.”

“I mean, we have telephone records at play here at this Tribunal now; it wasn’t, you know, too hard to foresee that that could happen.

I have been at lots of court cases and lots of, you know, processes where people’s phone records are, you know, produced to show that they have been in contact with person A, B or C around the time that they’ve organised interviews or they’ve got stories, and so on.

And I just wanted to be absolutely sure, because this issue was really extremely toxic at the time, I wanted to be absolutely sure I insulated myself from any of that.”

In relation to Paul Williams’ articles in the Irish Independent in April and May 2014, Mr Lally said he can’t be sure if he was aware that the stories related to Ms D.

He also said he couldn’t recall reading the stories at the time they were published.

During the tribunal, Mr Lally was also questioned about his ‘Bloody Nose’ article referenced above.

This was was published three days after RTÉ Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds’ reports about Sgt McCabe not cooperating with the O’Mahoney investigation with the whistleblower giving a statement to journalists Katie Hannon and Mick Clifford to clarify that this was untrue.

Michael McDowell:” In what sense did you think that Sergeant McCabe had suffered a bloody nose that week?”

Conor Lally:. “Well, I suppose, I would have to read the article.”

McDowell: “Please do.”

Lally:.” Yeah. Yeah, I remember the piece at the time now. I think it was Alan Shatter had got up in the Dáil and he’d basically said that, he basically tried to put forward the proposition that Sergeant McCabe’s complaints had been previously investigated. I mean, that was the general, that was the general tone.”

McDowell:. “Yes. And you took the view that he had inflicted a bloody nose on Sergeant McCabe in public at that time?”

Lally:. “On that day, yes. But I also wrote stories at the time…”

McDowell. “Because you had written on that subject that “the O’Mahony inquiry presented as an option rather on an order”?

Lally: “Yeah. So basically what happened there was, basically what happened there was, I think it was RTÉ, I can’t quite recall now, RTÉ ran a report basically saying that Maurice McCabe hadn’t complied with an order to cooperate with the John O’Mahony inquiry and we did some journalism then in response to that report. I am pretty sure RTÉ broke the story. And of course this is the article here that you’ve brought me to now, which supports Maurice McCabe’s version of accounts.”

McDowell: “Yes?”

Lally: “And completely backs his version of accounts. So as you can see — I mean, it’s very easy to go through a person’s journalism and pick out one piece here and one piece there and try and put forward a piece…”

McDowell: “I’m not trying to be unfair to you at all, Mr. Lally… what I am suggesting to you is that two or three days later you are saying that McCabe has suffered bloody nose.”

Lally:  “Yes. But you see, in my journalism I don’t pick out the people that I’m going to support and the people that I’m going to attack. I cover the events as they go. And events ebb and flow and there was plenty of ebb and plenty of flow at this particular controversy. So, over the course of time my journalism reflected that ebb and flow precisely because it was neutral and it was independent, and I reported with neither fear nor favour to anybody.”

McDowell:.”I see.”

Lally: “We weren’t in there — you know, we weren’t in there doing journalism on behalf of everybody. We gave everybody the same treatment.”

Supt David Taylor told the tribunal that, apart from “negatively briefing” Mr Lally about Sgt McCabe – which Mr Lally denies – Supt Taylor also said that Mr Lally was the only journalist to push back against him.

He said Mr Lally “pushed back and basically said he didn’t believe it” when he [Supt Taylor] conveyed to him that Sgt McCabe hadn’t cooperated with Asst Commissioner John O’Mahoney’s report.

Asked about this, Mr Lally initially said:

“As I have said in my statement to the Tribunal, I really can’t get into, for reasons of source protection I really can’t get into specific conversations that I had with individual Garda members.”

He then said:

“I just don’t recognise what he’s saying. I just, I have no recollection of anything, of the events as he outlines them here.”

Last month, as the Disclosures Tribunal reached its close, Mr Lally, who was initially cautious of an outsider running the force,  welcomed the appointment of the PSNI”s Drew Harris as new Garda Commissioner, wrriting:

‘What he must absolutely achieve, perhaps above and before any of the other items in his in-tray, is to end the scandals that have beset the Garda in recent years.’

Mr Lally added:

‘His must be seen as a new tenure; a true break from the past.’

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe and The Irish Times Part 2

Yesterday: Maurice McCabe And RTÉ


Update: Maurice McCabe And The irish Times: Part 2 here

Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe  (top) and, above clockwise, from top left: David Davin Power; Marian Finucane, Philip Boucher Hayes, Paul Reynolds, Katie Hannon, Sean O’Rourke and Gerald Kean.

RTÉ’s approach toward Garda whistleblower Sgt McCabe mirrored standard psychological police interrogation procedure: Good cop, bad cop.

While RTÉ News portrayed Maurice as a reckless outsider whose grievances didn’t stack up, RTÉ journalists on shows such as ‘Prime Time’ and Radio One’s ‘Drivetime’ conveyed the more nuanced reality.

Stephen Rae’s Irish Independent and Anne Harris’s Sunday Independent conducted a similar double act at Independent News and Media.

The tribunal, overseen by Judge Peter Charleton with a report due in October, has 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 the claims]

Supt Taylor also said, in his protected disclosure, that he was also to convey to journalists that Sgt McCabe “refused” to cooperate with an internal investigation into the penalty points controversy which was carried out by Asst Commissioner John O’Mahony.

Specifically, Supt Taylor said:

“I was instructed by the Commissioner to brief the media that Sergeant McCabe had refused to cooperate with Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony. I later found out that this was untrue.”

RTÉ’s Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds said he met Martin Callinan in a bathroom in Leinster House following the then Garda Commissioner’s appearance at the Public Accounts Committee hearing on Thursday, January 23, 2014.

This was the occassion when, with Ms O’Sullivan by his side, Mr Callinan called the actions of whistleblowers former Garda John Wilson and Sgt McCabe “disgusting”.

At this time, Mr Reynolds was aware of the Ms D allegation but, similar to the evidence of other journalists – such as Conor Lally, of The Irish Times, Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, and John Mooney, of The Sunday Times – Mr Reynolds said the matter never concerned him because of his knowledge of the DPP’s directions in relation to it.

Mr Reynolds said he never believed the Ms D allegation was the reason for Sgt McCabe making complaints about policing in Cavan/Monaghan.

He also said Ms O’Sullivan – with whom he said he would have risen with “through the ranks” over their respective 30-year careers – wasn’t the source for that information.

While in the bathroom, Mr Reynolds indicated Mr Callinan had regretted making the remark.

Mr Reynolds told the Disclosures Tribunal:

” I was washing my hands and he said to me…he said, he shook his head and knew he shouldn’t have said the word disgusting.

“…I was, if you like, going in and he was coming out and I caught his eyes and he just said — that was it…  it was just sort of a — you know, he just knew — he knew he shouldn’t have done it.”

Questioned about this encounter by Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, it was indicated that Mr Callinan showed a different attitude about his remark to Mr Reynolds than to other witnesses who said Mr Callinan remained firm on the comment.

Mr McDowell also suggested that it demonstrated Mr Callinan was “on close terms” with Mr Reynolds and “in a position to trust [Mr Reynolds] not to go and report that Mr Callinan shook his head and regretted the remark”.

Mr Reynolds said: “It’s just a human moment, really, you know. It doesn’t suggest anything.”

Mr McDowell put it to Mr Reynolds that he never reported the matter.

Mr Reynolds said he did, only two months later, on the day Mr Callinan retired (more on this below).

A few days after Mr Callinan went before PAC, on Sunday, January 26, 2014, celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean was a panellist on RTE’s Marian Finucane Show.

This was just a few days before Sgt McCabe appeared before the PAC himself, in private, on January 30, 2014.

Mr Kean had received a briefing from Mr Callinan before the show and told the Disclosures Tribunal Mr Callinan instructed him not to reveal that he [Callinan] was his source of information – a claim Mr Callinan denied.

Mr Kean also told the tribunal that Mr Callinan said Sgt McCabe was troublesome, obstructive, difficult – a claim which Mr Callinan also denies.

During the panel discussion, Mr Kean emphatically told the panel that Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson did not cooperate with Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney during his investigation of the claims about penalty points.

[Since October 2012, Mr O’Mahony had been leading Operation Squeeze which was investigating the penalty points controversy internally for An Garda Siochana. His report was eventually published in May 2013]

Mr Kean told Ms Finucane and her 330,000-plus listeners:

“…what I’m saying is they did not cooperate with that investigation…you can’t investigate it thoroughly when an inspector is set up to investigate and the two whistleblowers don’t cooperate, they don’t cooperate…”

Mr Kean was not challenged in this assertion by the host.

After the show was finished, Mr Kean called Mr Callinan and they spoke to each other for 7 minutes and 51 seconds.

This phone call would have taken place after an RTE producer told Mr Kean that Sgt McCabe had rang in to complain about the comments Mr Kean made on the show.

Mr Kean told the tribunal that he probably would have defended himself to the RTÉ producer at this point with the explanation that he got his information from the Commissioner.

Mr Kean said:

“My recollection is I said, you know, I certainly at that stage would have, my recollection is, said to the producer I got this from the Commissioner…”

[A few days after Mr Kean gave evidence to the tribunal, Ms Finucane – during a slot on the tribunal and Mr Kean’s evidence on her show- told her listeners: “We had no idea. He didn’t tell us that he had been talking to the Commissioner.” Ms Finucane didn’t clarify if she meant before the show, after the show, or both]

Mr Kean told the tribunal that when he spoke to Mr Callinan after the show, the then Garda Commissioner “stuck to his guns” and didn’t back down, and he said what he told Mr Kean was correct.

The solicitor said this call was made “in a panic”.

The tribunal has heard that Sgt McCabe went on to send a written complaint to Mr Kean about the comments he made on the Marian Finucane Show.

The solicitor then sent Sgt McCabe’s letter to Mr Callinan – by courier – with a cover letter in which he asked for Mr Callinan for assistance and, with the letter, Mr Kean attached a draft response he [Mr Kean] had written.

Specifically, Mr Kean wrote to Mr Callinan:

“Dear Martin, I enclose copy letter which I have received from Maurice McCabe. I am also enclosing draft response. I have not sent these letters to the other person. I would be grateful if you could look at the letter that I have received and my proposed draft response. I need to be factually accurate and any assistance would be appreciated.”

The tribunal heard there was a typo in this letter and the bit that says “the other person” should read “any other person”.

Then, on February 12, 2014, Mr Callinan’s private secretary Frank Walsh relayed to Mr Kean four paragraphs written by Mr Callinan and these were inserted into the letter Mr Kean sent to Sgt McCabe.

This occurred during a meeting at 11.30am in Mr Kean’s office in Dublin – following two texts sent from Mr Callinan to Mr Kean before 8am that morning.

The paragraphs, written in the first person, stated:

“Can I first of all say that I am invited on several radio and television programmes…where I voice my opinion as I am entitled to do….”

“The subject of the FCPS on the show that day as part of the programme was well aired in the public domain previously and so I was aware that you and your colleagues were advised to contact Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony and his team if you had any complaints to make without prejudice to the confidential reporting system. That was the point I was making about cooperation with the investigation.”

“It was also the case, of course, that the Data Protection Commissioner’s views are well-known in the context of personal and sensitive data being aired in public. I fully agree with his views and I made this point on the radio.”

“I have no doubt that GSOC investigation will fully examine all of these matters and address any wrongdoing.”

These paragraphs ended up, verbatim, in Mr Kean’s response to Sgt McCabe.

Mr Walsh claims neither Mr Callinan nor Mr Kean – whom he’s known for 30 years – told him that Mr Callinan had briefed Mr Kean before he went on the Marian Finucane Show.

None of this correspondence was disclosed to the tribunal by either An Garda Siochana, Mr Callinan or Mr Kean but, instead, was found after a barrister for the tribunal, Patrick Marrinan SC, searched through hundreds of thousands of documents.

In addition, Mr Kean’s letter to Mr Callinan – asking for help – wasn’t put on the commissioner’s register of correspondence.

Mr Callinan also didn’t disclose to the tribunal details of his phone conversations with Mr Kean ahead of the radio show in his statement to the tribunal.

By way of an explanation for this, Mr Callinan said he had forgotten about the calls until he received further documentation from the tribunal.

Mr Callinan told the tribunal that the allegation Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson hadn’t cooperated with Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney’s investigation was something he had previously stated at the PAC meeting of January 23, 2014.

However, he conceded his interactions with Mr Kean weren’t his finest hour.

Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson took action over the comments made by Gerald Kean and RTÉ subsequently paid out in excess of €180,000 in damages and costs as a result of the comments.

Mr Kean’s request for help from Mr Callinan was described as “really, really, really strange” by Judge Peter Charleton.

The day after Sgt McCabe appeared at the Public Accounts Committee (Thursday, January 30, 2014) – and just under a week after Mr Kean’s comments on the Marian Finucane Show – the Director of Communications at An Garda Síochána, Andrew McLindon wrote an email to Mr Callinan, on Friday, January 31, 2014, proposing that he appear on RTÉ One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show to “turn the conversation back to the positive activities of An Garda Siochana”.

The email stated:

Subject: Potential PR activity re: FCPN & Positive News


For your consideration, in order to provide some balance and context to the on-going coverage over the FCPN matter, and to turn the conversation back to the positive activities of AGS, I propose the following to take place next week.

1. Pre-recorded interview with yourself and Sean O’Rourke to address issues in relation to the FCPN, but also your career, the great work carried out by members of AGS every day of the week, intelligence-led policing [REDACTED], [REDACTED] investigation, and the values of AGS. I have attached a document outlining some of the potential key messages for guidance. The areas for discussion are subject to agreement with Sean O’Rourke and his producer. In order for us to agree to this interview, Sean O’Rourke will have to give a commitment that the interview is not dominated or solely focused on the FCPN issue.

2. In tandem, press release sent to national media announcing the following initiatives (subject to them being agreed to) to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring the credibility of the FCPN process:

– Monthly releases of latest FCPN audit figures
– Invitation for PAC members to visit FCPN centre in Thurles
– Intention to publish FCPN policies and procedures when feedback from DPP and Inspectorate received
-Detail on the level of current terminations vs level of terminations in C&AG and O’Mahoney reports


The tribunal heard Mr McLindon also proposed Mr Callinan say the following when asked about the “disgusting” remark:

“Firstly, I want to make it quite clear that this was not a comment on the individuals and I didn’t say I found them personally disgusting. As I made very clear to the committee, the individuals are involved in High Court actions against the state, so I didn’t and won’t be commenting on them individually.”

Mr Callinan didn’t agree to the proposal.

The tribunal didn’t hear if Mr McLindon had pitched the idea to RTÉ before putting it to Mr Callinan.

February 2014

Mr McLindon said that on Monday, February 3, 2014, he received a phone call at around 9am from Mr Callinan “to say that he had considered it [the Sean O’Rourke proposal] but he wasn’t prepared to change his position at this time”.

When Mr Callinan gave evidence he said if he was “seen to be making excuses”, it might have worsened the problem.

It was put to him that he could have just apologised – without making an excuse – and Mr Callinan said:

“…the fact is I had a particular view of what was happening and that it shouldn’t be happening.”

Later that month, on February 24, 2014, Mr Reynolds reported on the internal investigation into the penalty points controversy by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney.

At around 5pm, Mr Reynolds reported on Mr Callinan’s claim that Sgt McCabe and Mr Wilson didn’t cooperate with Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney’s investigation.

The tribunal has heard Mr Reynolds’ report didn’t include the words “refused to cooperate” – which, as mentioned above, Supt Taylor claimed in his protected disclosure he was instructed to tell journalists.

However, M Reynolds reported:

“The Garda Commissioner wrote to the whistleblower Sergeant McCabe, Maurice McCabe, 14 months ago and told him to cooperate with the investigation into allegations that penalty points had been cancelled.

“Martin Callinan issued a direction to the sergeant on the 14th December 2012 to cooperate with the investigation being carried out by the Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony and directing him to bring any information or concerns he had to the inquiry team.”

“The Garda Síochána is a disciplined force and members are required to comply with directions issued by the Commissioner.”

“…Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony told the PAC that he was contacted on 13 April 2013 after he had forwarded his investigation report to the Minister for Justice.

“The Assistant Commissioner said he asked the Sergeant if he had any information for him and offered to sit down with him and give him ‘a fair hearing’.

Sean Gillane SC, for RTÉ, told the tribunal Mr Reynolds attempted to contact Sgt McCabe before he made this report.

However, it was Sgt McCabe’s evidence that he couldn’t recall Mr Reynolds trying to contact him before the report.

In any event, later that evening Sgt McCabe gave a statement to Katie Hannon, of RTE’s Prime Time.

The statement said:

“My attention has been drawn by members of the media today to a statement or press release that appears to have been released to the media earlier today in relation to me.

“The unheaded statement or press release is, I regret to say, both gravely misleading and false. It suggests that the Garda Commissioner wrote to me 14 months ago and told me to cooperate with the investigation into the allegation that penalty points had been cancelled, claims that the Commissioner issued a direction to me to cooperate with the investigation being carried out by the assistant commissioner and directing me to bring any information or concerns I had to the inquiry team.

“It goes on to say that the Garda Síochána is a disciplined force and that members are required to comply with directions issued by the Commissioner, implying that I wrongly failed to comply with the Commissioner’s directions to cooperate.

“The statement further suggests that I did not comply with the Commissioner’s direction during a period when I was on sick leave and that I did not contact the assistant commissioner until April 2013, by which time the investigation had been completed. I was never directed by the Commissioner to cooperate with the O’Mahony investigation, as alleged.”

Ms Hannon also revealed on Prime Time that evening a transcript of the conversation Sgt McCabe had with Chief Supt Mark Curran who delivered this “instruction” to Sgt McCabe on December 14, 2012 – as Sgt McCabe had recorded the conversation.

This transcript can be read here.

The tribunal heard much debate over this “direction” or “invitation” from Mr Callinan.

When asked about what exactly he believed it was, Mr Callinan said:

“…it was intended a direction to desist from what was going on at the time, printing off Pulse records that were subsequently disclosed to third parties, and the last sentence of that direction dealt with an invitation to Sergeant McCabe and John Wilson, if they had any further concerns regarding the fixed charge penalty issue, that they should take them up with the assistant commissioner..”

On the evening Supt Curran spoke to Sgt McCabe, Sgt McCabe told Supt Curran he had not printed off Pulse records or disclosed them to third parties.

A few days before Supt Curran’s visit, Garda John Wilson had been found printing off records from the Pulse computer system in Cavan.

Specifically, Judge Charleton had this exchange with Mr Gillane SC, for RTE:

Judge Charleton: “The first was a direction [in regards to Pulse], certainly…The second was like an invitation to dinner, which is not a compulsion, you will come to my house for dinner tonight, it was an invitation that if you wished to raise anything, well then you have your channel, it’s assistant commissioner. ”

Sean Gillane: “And that is why, in fairness, Chairman, I was asking the former commissioner what he meant by it and whether ‘direction’ covered the paragraph, and he has given his answer in that regard.”

Charleton: “On the plain wording of the text, it doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean that Mr Reynolds was out to mislead the Irish public.”

The judge did later add:

“We all know the Garda Síochána is supposed to be a disciplined force. I mean, why does RTÉ have to tell us that? I don’t know.”

When Mr Callinan gave evidence, Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, put it to Mr Callinan that Mr Reynolds’ report came directly from An Garda Síochána.

Mr Callinan told the tribunal that he didn’t know where the report came from.

Mr McDowell suggested the report was wholly misleading.

Judge Charleton said:

“The most misleading bit, if it is misleading at all, would seem to be the paragraph saying ‘Assistant Commissioner told the Public Accounts Committee that he asked the sergeant if he had any information, offered to sit down with him and give him a fair hearing.’ I mean, as I understand the evidence, Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony and Maurice McCabe never communicated over this issue.”

Mr McDowell told the tribunal that Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney extended an invitation to Sgt McCabe after he had completed his report and on foot of Sgt McCabe complaining to Asst Commissioner O’Mahoney for not including him in the investigation’s process.

Mr McDowell argued that the report made it look as if Sgt McCabe hadn’t cooperated.

Mr Callinan insisted Sgt McCabe “didn’t take up the invitation”.

Judge Charleton said:

If I was reading that, coming to the whole thing completely fresh, I’d say oh and look, during the course of the investigation Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony actually rang him up and offered to sit down with him and give him a fair hearing, but it wasn’t, that was later on….

“..this seems to give the impression that Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony was free to contact him which you say he wasn’t and that he did contact him, which he didn’t, during the currency of the preparation of the report, and instead, it put something that happened afterwards when Sergeant McCabe had, if you like, revealed himself into a context which doesn’t fit. That seems to be what’s happening there.”

Mr Callinan agreed with Judge Charleton’s summation.

Mr McDowell repeated again to Mr Callinan that the source of Mr Reynolds’ report was Garda HQ, prompting Mr Gillane SC, for RTE asking: “On what possible evidential basis can this question be put to this witness [Callinan]?”

Judge Charleton quipped: “…on the basis that no one is ever going to tell me what the source was. I think that is the basis..”

Conor Dignam SC, for An Garda Siochana, told the tribunal, in regards to Sgt McCabe’s claim – in his statement to Ms Hannon – that Mr Reynolds’ report was based on an “unheaded statement or press release”, that “there is, in fact, no document described as unheaded press release or press statement”.

Judge Charleton responded: “At the moment there doesn’t seem to be.”

Later, when Mr Reynolds gave evidence, he explained to the the tribunal how he came to write his reports on February 24, 2014.

His first report about the matter went on the RTE website at 14.28pm – after he got sight of the letter which was read out to Sgt McCabe in December 2014 by Chief Supt Curran.

Mr Reynolds said he didn’t get it from Supt Taylor and that he got it from someone else.

Mr Reynolds said after this story went up online, he sought an on-the-record response from Garda Headquarters and Sgt McCabe.

He said, within about 90 minutes, he received an on-the-record response from Supt Taylor which stated that the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan told Sgt McCabe to cooperate with the O’Mahony investigation.

Mr Reynolds then updated his story at around 4pm.

Later that day, Sgt McCabe gave a response to Katie Hannon of RTÉ’s Prime Time and Mr Reynolds said he then incorporated Sgt McCabe’s response into his reports later that evening and the following morning.

The tribunal saw that, a few days after Mr Reynolds’ report on the O’Mahony investigation, John Burke, of RTÉs This Week radio show, wrote to the Garda Press Office:

“In light of statements given in the Dáil during the week and the statement by Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe with regard to whether Sergeant McCabe cooperated with the O’Mahony inquiry into penalty points, can you please inform RTÉ’s This Week programme whether the Garda Commissioner wishes to add or amend any remarks he has put into the public domain or which have been attributed to him with regard to this matter.”

In response, Tony Connaughton, of the Garda Press Office, wrote back to Mr Burke saying:

The Garda Commissioner wishes to confirm that he did not put any remarks into the public domain. Any comments that the Garda Commissioner wishes to put on the public record will be by way of official statement issued by the Garda Press Office or face-to-face interviews quoting what the Garda Commissioner wishes to convey.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission have been appointed to investigate this matter, and therefore it is inappropriate to comment.”

So. Mr Reynolds told the tribunal he did a report for RTE based on an on-the-record statement from Garda HQ – via Supt Taylor – but Mr Callinan, via the Garda Press Office, later told a separate RTE reporter that Mr Callinan did not put any remarks into the public domain and that the matter was being investigated by GSOC.

Mr Reynolds told the tribunal he only saw Mr Burke’s email exchange while sitting in the witness box.

He also told the tribunal:

“Well, I mean, I spoke to the Garda Press Officer, I wrote up the story, it went on-line at four o’clock, there were no complaints from the Garda Press Officer, and I had spoken to him a number of times later on that evening and there were no complaints from the Garda Commissioner or the Garda Press Office in relation to the inaccuracy of the story.”

He added:

“I know I got an official statement from the Garda Press Office. I put it on the record and I attributed it…So if there was any problems with it, I would have heard.”

Kathleen Leader then had this exchange with Mr Reynolds:

Leader: “…what I am suggesting to you is, it would seem to be that at least Superintendent Taylor was making it clear to you, as I understand it, that Sergeant McCabe had not cooperated with the O’Mahony inquiry.

Reynolds: “First of all, I was never briefed by Superintendent Taylor that Sergeant McCabe refused to cooperate.”

Leader: “Yes.”

Reynolds:I never reported that he refused to cooperate. I was given a statement from Garda Headquarters that said the Garda Commissioner said he didn’t cooperate.”

Leader: “Okay.”

Reynolds: “And that is what I published.”

It should be noted Mr Callinan denies giving Supt Taylor any such instruction about Asst Commissioner John O’Mahoney’s report.

It should also be noted that Asst Commissioner John O’Mahony – when he gave evidence on June 6 last – was shown Mr Reynolds’ report and said he was not Mr Reynolds’ source and never spoke to Mr Reynolds about it.

He also said that what Mr Reynolds reported “wouldn’t be my view either in relation to what
had actually happened”.

Asst Comm O’Mahony – when he gave his evidence – also made it known publicly for the first time that he purposefully didn’t engage with Sgt McCabe when he was carrying out his investigation as he felt “precluded” from doing so, due to regulations.

He also said Mr Callinan would have “been aware of the process” he was undertaking.

March 2014

Two days before Mr Callinan retired on March 25, 2014, a text was sent to Mr Callinan (on March 23, 2014) – on foot of the then Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar calling the Garda whistleblowers “distinguished” (on March 20, 2014), in marked contrast to Mr Callinan calling their actions “disgusting” in January 2014.

The text sent to Mr Callinan, by an unknown person, said:

“Yeah, just thinking so much pressure being exerted from Labour riding on Varadkar’s opener. Hope Kenny can control the PAC on Tuesday, and you would need a plan B if needed in a hurry. I mean, what you were putting together yesterday. Similarly if you were door-stepped or at an official function. Reynolds would help out if an interview arose somewhere. Just thoughts and not recommendations.”

Mr Reynolds told the tribunal, on several occasions, that it’s a lazy and unfair assumption to think he would give Mr Callinan a soft interview.

Supt Taylor, in his protected disclosure, claimed that, on the morning of his resignation, Mr Callinan rang Supt Taylor and said:

“I’ve resigned. Get it out quickly to the media before the fuckers do me. Tell Paul.”

Supt Taylor, in his protected disclosure, said this meant Paul Reynolds.

When Mr Reynolds was asked if Supt Taylor had conveyed to him what happened that morning of Mr Callinan’s retirement, Mr Reynolds initially said he wouldn’t comment on whether he spoke to Supt Taylor or not but confirmed he did report on the retirement.

When Judge Charleton said he couldn’t see how journalist privilege arises – if the Garda Press Officer tells him something that is fact – Mr Reynolds conceded that if Supt Taylor said he called him [Mr Reynolds], he’ll accept it.

On the day of Mr Callilnan’s retirement, Mr Reynolds did report on Mr Callinan’s resignation – most notably on Today with Sean O’Rourke and News At One.

On Today with Sean O’Rourke, Mr Reynolds had the following exchange with Mr O’Rourke:

Sean O’Rourke: “Paul, what exactly persuaded the Commissioner that it was time to go?”

Paul Reynolds: “Well, Sean, I think he was pulled into a political crisis and, from his perspective, there was no end in sight and no way out. Now it’s clearly very hard from him and his family and that’s the reason he has cited for his resignation this morning, he says it’s for family reasons.

“And I know he found it particularly difficult because of the pressure that he was being put under and the effect it was having on his wife Marian and the family. And I think it was for family reasons that he really said: enough already, time to move out.

He felt that both he, but particularly his family, had to listen to a constant barrage of criticism which, in many cases, he felt was unfair and in many ways he felt he couldn’t answer.

“I mean he has been the subject of sustained and consistent criticism over a number of months…

“…then it went on to the penalty points problem and, you know, the [Garda] Inspectorate report was highly critical of the gardai and, again, he took this on board and then you had the issue of the whistleblowers and even though last Friday the Data Protection Commissioner came out and supported the actions of Martin Callinan in restricting the access of whistleblowers to the Garda’s PULSE computer system, even then he felt that he was still under pressure, particularly after Leo Varadkar’s comments.”

O’Rourke: “And Paul, reporting on Garda matters is your daily bread and butter job, now are you personally surprised as a crime correspondent that he has taken this step?”

Reynolds: “Yeah I was. It’s not just me that’s surprised. I think that senior members, right across the force, this has caused shock and amazement really because I think, even though he was pulled into a political crisis, the Garda Siochana is supposed to be apolitical. And I think that there would have been a feeling that the Commissioner felt he couldn’t respond to the criticisms because he was damned if he did and he was damned if he didn’t.

“And because no matter what he said, it wouldn’t have been good enough for certain people.

“So, I felt that he had obviously decided on a strategy whereby he would remain apolitical, he wasn’t going to comment on this, he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee.

When he came out of the Public Accounts Committee, Sean, in fairness to him, he wasn’t happy with his use of the word ‘disgusting’. He did use it but afterwards he felt, he did feel that it was the wrong word and…”

O’Rourke: “But he never said that, did he?”

Reynolds: “No, but he never said that, but he felt, and the reason why he didn’t say it is because he felt he couldn’t, no matter what he said, in relation to this, it was never going to be enough. People were never going to be happy with whatever he was going to say. And he felt he had made his point.

“And, from his point of view, he felt that the clarifying statement that he had made, he felt it should have and would have clarified it. He said he wasn’t talking personally about the whistleblowers, he was talking about their actions and he still feels that today and he still felt that.

“He felt that the actions of the whistleblowers, by going, once they had made their complaints, they had made their complaints and through the proper channels.

“But once they had continued to access the PULSE system and once they had continued to download and disseminate material, he felt he was disgusted by that and he was supported in that by the Data Protection Commissioner but he felt that, you know, if he kept, if he’d came out and made another statement about it, the statement he’d already made wasn’t enough.”

This interview can be listened to here

Later, on the News At One, the item on Mr Callinan’s resignation began with a clip of Mr Callinan making his “disgusting” remark.

Then Mr Reynolds told broadcaster Áine Lawlor:

“I think that he [Callinan] felt himself that the best decision was, as he said, retire early. He was due to retire next year. His tenure had been extended by the Minister for Justice.

“He says in his statement that he feels it was in the best interests of An Garda Siochana because he felt that the recent developments were proving to be a distraction from the work that the gardai carry out on a daily basis and he also says in his statement that it’s in the best interest of his family.

Martin Callinan is the father of three daughters, his mother is still alive.

“And they have also found the sustained criticism over the past few months very, very difficult to bear. And I think when he sat down and looked at both the family considerations and the fact that this controversy was continuing that he felt it was having an effect on the force and therefore he made his decision to resign on that basis.”

“…He still feels very strongly today about the fact that the whistleblowers, he respects the fact that they had made their complaint, he was disappointed that they didn’t make their complaint directly to him or to his, to some of his officers but he respected the fact, he said he respected the fact that they made their complaints.

“But, he couldn’t understand why they continued to access the PULSE system to print off sensitive, personal, confidential data from the system and then disseminate that…”

He felt he was in a no-win situation – he was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t and, on the basis of that, he took early retirement today.”

Lawlor: “And, one final question Paul. You said this morning that the former Commissioner now Martin Callinan knew himself, shortly after that appearance at the Public Accounts Committee, that he shouldn’t have used the word ‘disgusting’. Why wasn’t he, if he felt that at the time, why didn’t he just come out and say so then?

“I mean, surely, he could have avoided all of this, couldn’t he? Simply by the way he handled these things earlier on?”

Reynolds: “Yeah, I mean, let’s be honest about it. Hindsight is great sight. I think in relation to, when he did come out of the committee, yeah, he wasn’t happy with his use of the word ‘disgusting’. I think he really, didn’t intend to use that word, he intended to use a different word. Now people can say ‘well he was given a number of opportunities at the committee to resile from that position’ which he was and he chose not to do that at the time.

“But I think, after the PAC meeting, that didn’t really become an issue until Leo Varadkar raised it last Thursday and that was nearly three months after the PAC committee. There had been a number of other issues he had been dealing with…

“…so there was an awful lot of issues that were coming up and then, while he felt he had a lot of control of a lot of these, it was distracting from the important work of policing – we’re talking about organised crime, gangland crime, all the work that the gardai and the Garda Commissioner is involved in.

“And then last Thursday, out of the blue, Leo Varadkar made this statement and effectively dragged the Garda Commissioner into a political controversy whereby he felt he had no way out and took the decision today to resign.”

This interview can be listened to here.

The tribunal also saw the following text sent to Mr Callinan, just after he stepped down, from *a* Paul.

It said:

It seems pretty clear to me and it’s not right. If you want to set the record straight let me know. Meantime, take it easy.”

Mr Reynolds said he didn’t know if it was him who sent this text but, when it was suggested that billing records indicate it was most likely him, Mr Reynolds said:

“Look, it could be me and if it is, I think it’s pretty clear, it’s two days after the Garda Commissioner has retired, there is major political controversy, there is controversy in the guards, and this is the man who’s gone, who knows what’s happened and obviously as a journalist you want to seek an interview with him.”

May 2016

In regards to Mr Reynolds’ reports on the leaked O’Higgins Commission of Investigation report on May 9, 2016, the tribunal heard the then Chief News Editor of RTE News Ray Burke – who retired just 12 days before giving evidence on age grounds – asked his political staff and Mr Reynolds to track down copies of the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation report after he became aware the report had been given to the then Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald on April 25, 2016.

It heard that Mr Reynolds had been working up to his reports on the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation since April and that he secured multiple copies of the report. He wouldn’t tell the tribunal the source of these reports or the dates on which he received them.

Notebooks for April – when he said didn’t have copies of the O’Higgins report – and May – when he did – were produced to the tribunal and showed that, in both months, the Ms D allegation against Sgt McCabe was being referred to in conversations he was having with sources.

When asked by Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, what the D allegation had to do with the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, Mr Reynolds said:

“Well, nothing really, yeah. This is the sort of thing that comes up in conversation, when you are talking about policing in Bailieboro…”

Mr Reynolds told the tribunal he became aware of the Ms D allegation in 2013, in the context of the penalty points controversy.

Similar to other journalists – such as Conor Lally, of The Irish Times, Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, and John Mooney, of The Sunday Times – Mr Reynolds said the matter never concerned him because of his knowledge of the DPP’s directions in relation to it.

Mr Reynolds said he never believed the Ms D allegation was the reason for Sgt McCabe making complaints about policing in Cavan/Monaghan.

He also said Ms O’Sullivan – with whom he said he would have risen “through the ranks” over their respective careers over 30 years – wasn’t the source for that information.

Mr Reynolds had the following exchange with Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal.

Leader: “Why did you think you were being told about it [the Ms D matter]?”

Reynolds: “I didn’t think about that.”

Leader: “You’re a journalist; surely, Mr Reynolds, you would put — ask a question, why am I being told about this?”

Reynolds: “No, well, you see, I already knew at that stage that there was no prosecution.”

Leader: “Well, that is exactly the point.”

Reynolds: “Yeah.”

Leader: “So why are you being told about it? Did you ever ask yourself that?”

Reynolds: “No.”

In any event, Mr Reynolds reported on his leaked copies of the final O’Higgins report throughout the day – on radio and television – on May 9, 2016.

Mr Reynolds said in several of his reports – including the News at One and Six One television broadcasts but not the Nine O’Clock television news – that Judge O’Higgins found Sgt McCabe had lied.

Judge O’Higgins never said Sgt McCabe “lied” but he did find Sgt McCabe told an “untruth”.

As an example of Mr Reynolds’ reports, this is what Mr Reynolds said on the One O’Clock television news:

And this is what he reported on the Six O’Clock news…

The “untruth” centred on a report from 2008 in which Sgt McCabe told Supt Michael Clancy that the victim of an assault and his wife had made a complaint to GSOC even though he knew this wasn’t the case.

The purpose of the “untruth” was that Sgt McCabe felt the couple had been badly treated by members of An Garda Síochána and he felt if he said they complained to GSOC, the matter would gain more attention.

The assault took place in a Cavan pub and the man suffered injuries to his head and face.

But the man eventually withdrew his complaint “in controversial circumstances which were criticised by Mr Justice O’Higgins”, the tribunal heard.

Judge O’Higgins also criticised the handling of the case by An Garda Siochana and found that there was an “inordinate delay” in interviewing witnesses and compiling a file on the matter.

Ultimately, Judge O’Higgins wrote about this “untruth”:

“While this concern [of Sgt McCabe’s] was genuine and commendable it is unacceptable to furnish false information in a report.”

On the Friday before the Monday morning broadcasts, Mr Reynolds had emailed his first draft to Ray Burke.

There had been some talk about putting a broadcast out on RTE’s Sunday show This Week but this was decided against.

Mr Burke’s initial feedback to Mr Reynold, Mr Burke said:

“I think your draft is excellent but because it is certain that you and RTÉ news will be subject to suspicion, that we are favouring the Gardaí and therefore biased against McCabe, I think you should rewrite some of the top paragraphs so that they contained the main conclusions.”

The following day, Saturday, May 7, Mr Reyolds wrote back to Mr Burke:

“Thanks, Ray. I suggest we leave This Week and do it all Monday, break it into two parts for radio. First Morning Ireland report on the cases, the probs with probationers, could have been resolved with one inspector, praise for McCabe but also the lie, the rape and the poisoning. Second, News at One, Callinan accused of corruption but vindicated, Shatter, AC Derek Byrne, Chief Superintendent McGinn, Superintendent Michael Clancy and Inspector Cunningham. And do the lot for TV starting at one with graphics, Tanya, etcetera. Talk tomorrow.”

On the next day, Sunday, May 8, the managing editor of television news Hilary McGouran emailed Mr Reynolds saying:

“Hey Paul Well done on getting the report. You have clearly put a lot of work into this. As you know, it’s a tricky one so be conscious of your tone and delivery so it doesn’t sound like you agree or otherwise with the various findings. You don’t want to sound pro or anti anyone!!”

“The cases will take time to go through on air and are worth going through as they give the public a real insight into what this thing was all about. Tell Morning Ireland tonight they need to give it time to breathe on their run down.”

On the same day, Mr Burke sent Mr Reynolds’ further feedback after he received another draft from Mr Reynolds in respect of the News At One broadcast – which mainly dealt with the allegations of corruption.

In this draft to Mr Burke – for the News At One broadcast – Mr Reynolds had proposed starting off his broadcast with the line:

“The O’Higgins Commission says the whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe, did not withdraw an allegation of corruption against the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, despite being invited to do so.”

In this email – which is also cc-ed to acting Director General of RTE Kevin Bakhurst and Ms McGouran – Mr Burke said:

“On the News at One piece I think we can avoid any accusation of bias if you started by saying the O’Higgins Commission has said that the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan ‘is entitled to have his reputation vindicated’ and that allegations made against him by Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe were ‘unfounded and deeply hurtful’. I think a lead-in like that above does not put the boot into McCabe straight away.”

Mr Reyolds told the tribunal that Mr Burke was conscious of any criticism which could be levelled at RTE and that “we had to be clear that we weren’t seen to be the ones that were making those criticisms, that this was in the report”.

The tribunal also heard that, on May 8, Mr Reynolds made the following note:

Question of why he made those complaints.”

“Clear he believed there was widespread corruption. Commission’s report dismisses that. Finds he exaggerated some and got stuff wrong, etcetera. Even though his heart was in the right place, facts did not support his beliefs. However consequence of that belief, the actions he took, the exaggerations and errors he made, the fact that he convinced so many people, Claire Daly, Mick Wallace, Micheál Martin, Enda Kenny and lots of reporters, that there had to be something wrong in the Gardaí, reality was that he hadn’t convinced Dermot Ahern, Fachtna Murphy, the former Garda Commissioner, Alan Shatter, Martin Callinan, Derek Byrne and Terry McGinn.”

Mr Reynolds said all this came from his own head and he was just jotting matters down as they came into his head – so, in other words, it wasn’t information he was receiving from anyone.

To some, this might seem like an odd note that Mr Reynolds wrote to himself – given he said he had copies of the full and final O’Higgins report.

In regards to Sgt McCabe’s motivation, in chapter 3 of the final O’Higgns report, Judge O’Higgins specifically wrote:

Some people, wrongly and unfairly, cast aspersions on Sergeant McCabe’s motives; others were ambivalent about them. Sergeant McCabe acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns, and the commission unreservedly accepts his bona fides. Sergeant McCabe has shown courage, and performed a genuine public service at considerable personal cost. For this he is due the gratitude, not only of the general public, but also of An Garda Síochána. While some of his complaints have not been upheld by this commission, Sergeant McCabe is a man of integrity, whom the public can trust in the exercise of his duties.”

Ms Leader asked Mr Reynolds if, after he got the full report, if he specifically sought to find out why Sgt McCabe made his complaints. Mr Reynolds said:

“I was thinking, I’m reading the report and thinking do we have to look at why he made those complaints? Do you know what I mean, is this an issue here? I am not saying we have to, but things are popping into my mind. Do we have to look at why he made these complaints? Do we have to see who agreed with him? Do we have to see who disagreed with him? Do we have to see what the report says about that?”

Returning to his decision to use the word “lie”, Mr Reynolds said:

“I read it that Sergeant McCabe had told an untruth — the report said that Sergeant McCabe had told an untruth, that he was aware it was an untruth, that he had told it for a specific reason and that the report found — Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins found that this was unacceptable. And the word used in the report was “untruth”.

“But because of those four factors I said that is a lie, and I said it to Ray Burke and he agreed it was a lie and it went up the RTÉ editorial chain.

“I have an old Collins dictionary on my desk at home, I took it out and looked up the word “untruth” and the first word that came up was “lie”. I thought back to my catechism when I was in first class when it said no lie is either lawful or innocent and I thought, if we have any responsibility, we have to tell people what is in the report. And I know this is unpalatable, but, as I said, I talked to Ray Burke about it and it went right up to Kevin Bakhurst and right through the editorial chain and it was decided that yes, we had to say that this was — this was a lie and that a lie was told.”

Asked why he didn’t just use the word “untruth”, Mr Reynolds said:

“Because I think the responsibility of journalists is not to use diplomatic or parliamentary or polite language that they are given.”

Ms Leader BL, for the tribunal, also put it to Mr Reynolds that:

“It could be said, Mr Reynolds, that in conveying to the public on the national broadcasting authority that a lot of complaints were made that nothing came of, and in particular in relation to very senior officers in An Garda Síochána, that Sergeant McCabe, in complaining as he did, was irresponsible in so doing…?”

Mr Reynolds said:

There was no implication from our broadcasts that he was irresponsible. Quite the contrary. We said, and I know I’m repeating myself but we did say, we repeated ad nauseam that his concerns were genuine and legitimate and that he was courageous and that he had carried out a public service and we did say, in my analysis, that if he hadn’t done what he had done we would never have found out about all of this.”

It should be said that Mr Reynolds did telephone Sgt McCabe the night before the broadcasts first went out on Morning Ireland on the morning of May 9, 2016… at 9.55pm.

Sgt McCabe didn’t answer the phone call and Mr Reynolds left a message.

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, put it to Mr Reynolds that his call to Sgt McCabe at that time of the night was him simply “going through the motions” and that he was “pretending that you were being evenhanded in dealing with your sources”.

Mr Reynolds categorically rejected this and said:

I have a statutory responsibility. RTÉ is the only organisation in this country broadcasting — or the only news organisation in this country that is regulated by statute, and I have a statutory responsibility to report in a fair and impartial manner. And I had to contact Sergeant McCabe.”

Mr McDowell asked why then, if Mr Reynolds had a duty to report in a fair and impartial manner”, why then did he not “mention the fact Sgt McCabe’s evidence had been preferred by the O’Higgins Commission on all of the areas where he was in conflict with other gardaí”?

Mr McDowell asked Mr Reynolds if it struck him that Philip Boucher Hayes’s report on his own leaked copy of the O’Higgins report – also broadcast on May 9, 2016 on Drivetime – was much more fair and balanced then that of Mr Reynolds’.

Mr Reynolds responded:

“If you want to tell me that Philip Boucher-Hayes is a far better reporter than me I am not going to disagree with you.”

Mr McDowell said he wouldn’t be that offensive to Mr Reynolds.

Mr Boucher-Hayes’s report can be read in full here.

On May 13, 2016, in the Irish Examiner, Michael Clifford reported that counsel for Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan’s told the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation that Sgt McCabe was negatively motivated in making his complaints about poor policing in Cavan/Monaghan and that he admitted this in a meeting which took place back in 2008 in Mullingar, apparently between Sgt McCabe, Sgt Yvonne Martin and Supt Noel Cunningham.

[It’s since turned out that Sgt Martin never gave evidence at the commission]

This was later proven to be untrue as Sgt McCabe had recorded the meeting and he gave this recording and transcript to Judge O’Higgins after the claim was made.

A report by Supt Cunningham of the Mullingar meeting matched Sgt McCabe’s tape.

But the tribunal has heard conflicting evidence about when Supt Cunningham’s report was given to the commission.

Either way, the alleged claim – which was of a blackmail-like scenario – was then dropped.

However, the legal row, the blackmail claim, and how the claim was “negatived” at the commission were not included in Justice O’Higgins’ final report.

During the O’Higgins commission of investigation, Ms O’Sullivan was represented by Colm Smyth, SC, while Sgt McCabe was represented by Michael McDowell, SC.

The following day, May 16, 2016, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan released a statement saying, among other things:

“I have been asked to clarify certain matters in relation to the proceedings before the O’Higgins Commission. I am legally precluded from so doing under section 11 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, which provides that it is a criminal offence to disclose or publish any evidence given or the contents of any document produced by a witness…I want to make it clear that I do not, and have never, regarded McCabe as malicious.”

On May 17, 2016, on the RTE Six One news, Paul Reynolds reported that he had obtained new documents in relation to the exchanges between Garda Commissioner’s senior counsel Colm Smyth and Judge Kevin O’Higgins during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Mr Reynolds reported that the documents showed Mr Smyth told the judge he was instructed, by the Commissioner, to challenge the ‘motivation and credibility’ of Sgt Maurice McCabe.

This, Mr Reynolds reported, was because Ms O’Sullivan had to consider the welfare of all of the gardai not just Sgt McCabe.

On the same day, that evening, on RTE’s Prime Time, Katie Hannon reported on further sections of transcripts from the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation in May and November 2015. Ms Hannon reported the following transcript:

Colm Smyth SC: “I have instructions from the Commissioner, Judge. This is an inquiry dealing with allegations of malpractice and corruption on a grand scale by members of An Garda Siochana.”

Judge Kevin O’Higgins: “No. This part of the inquiry…”

Smyth: “I appreciate that but my instructions are to challenge the integrity of Sgt McCabe and his motivation.”

O’Higgins: “The integrity?”

Smyth: “His motivation and his credibility in mounting these allegations of corruption and malpractice.”

O’Higgins: “…An attack on somebody’s credibility and his motivation or integrity is something that really doesn’t form part of this inquiry. It would be necessary for you to go further and say that the complaints and the actions of Sgt McCabe were motivated by… that is motivation was dishonest or wrong.”

O’Higgins: “…In other words that he made these allegations not in good faith but because he was motivated by malice, by some such motive and that impinges on his integrity. If those are your instructions from the Commissioner, so be it.”

Smyth: “So be it. That is the position judge.”

O’Higgins: “Those are your…”

Smyth: “Yes. As the evidence will demonstrate judge…[later] this isn’t something I’m pulling out of the sky, judge, I mean I can only acting on instructions.


O’Higgins: “But you are attacking his motivation and you are attacking his integrity?”

Smyth: “Right the way through.”

O’Higgins: “Full stop.”

Smyth: “Yes. Full stop.”


Smyth: “My instructions are reconfirmed.”

O’Higgins: “Very good. Your instructions as I understand them are that Sgt McCabe acted as he did for improper motives.”

Smyth: “Yeah.”

O’Higgins: “Okay and that his integrity is being challenged in that respect.”

Smyth: “In that respect.”

O’Higgins: “Okay, fine. So be it.”

Later in November 2015, on the day Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan was due to give evidence – by which time Sgt McCabe had produced a transcript of his meeting in Mullingar with two gardaí…

Smyth: “As far as the Commissioner was concerned at all stages I had instructions to challenge Sgt McCabe in relation to motivation and credibility.”

O’Higgins: “And integrity?”

Smyth: “No. There was no mention of integrity.”


Smyth: “…that is an error on my part.”

O’Higgins: “Well that is the clarification I sought. So the position now is that his motive is under attack, credibility is under attack from the Commissioner. But not his integrity.”

Smyth: “Just to be clear about it. The credibility in so far as he made these allegations of corruption and malpractice. There is no question about that.”


Smyth: “Judge, the Commissioner has a duty of care to all members. She wasn’t acquiescing. She has to hold the balance between, on the one part she has Sgt McCabe who she has a concern for and his welfare and on the other hand she has a concern for the Superintendents who are under her control. She has to hold the balance. She cannot come down on the side of Sgt McCabe and say I agree with everything he says without challenge.”

[Many more details about what occurred at the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation emerged during evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal and this can be read here and here]

On May 18, 2016, RTÉ Political Correspondent David Davin-Power told RTE’s News At One:

It’s hard to see how we are going to get of the bottom of this. Now the Opposition want the legal instructions which the Commissioner gave to her legal team to be disclosed but where would that end? After all, would that mean that other legal instructions, say that Maurice McCabe gave to his team, would have to be disclosed in turn?

And it really is a big ask in any situation to request that people disclose what they said to their lawyers in the course of proceedings or a Commission of Inquiry of whatever.

But, as things stand, what we do know from leaked transcripts is that there was an initial suggestion by the lawyer for the Commissioner that malice would have been part of the motivation attributed to Maurice McCabe but then, when he was questioned by the judge, some months later, another transcript, piece of transcript that’s leaked shows that he withdrew that effectively and said he simply wanted to question Sgt McCabe’s motivation and credibility which is bad enough when you think about it.

the whole thing is really overly complicated by various disclosures and can be boiled down to what the Commissioner felt about Maurice McCabe at the time she was talking to her lawyers in advance of the O’Higgins commission.

Now I don’t know how much further we’re going to get because nobody is suggesting that the full transcript which would be voluminous of the commission is being published because that would call into question how people would behave in front of any future tribunals.

So I think we would probably have to wait until the Dáil debate on the O’Higgins report itself which we think will be next week. The Taoiseach will have to choose his words very carefully in relation to Alan Shatter, in relation to Maurice McCabe, in relation to Noirin O’Sullivan.
And he’ll also have to deal with the findings and the recommendations of the commission in relation to very questionable behaviour of gardaí in Baileboro which sadly has been somewhat obscured by the politics controversies.

On that same day, on May 18, 2016, in an item on RTE’s evening show Drivetime, Philip Boucher-Hayes said:

I’ve spoken to several people who were in attendance throughout, if not the entirety, most of the days that the Commission took evidence and they say that it was if Sgt McCabe was on trial. He said as much when he was under cross examination on several occasions and a serving member of the Gardai – that I’ve spoken to – who was present at several days of proceedings has told me: ‘They tried to blame Maurice for everything and it was bullshit.’

…Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and many of the individual senior officers – be they retired or serving – were all represented by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and acted for, at the commission, by Colm Smyth, senior counsel. So the legal strategy was, in most cases, centralised. The line of attack on McCabe was organised.

It could be said that Mr Boucher-Hayes’ view of matters in May 2014 were likely to have been a lot different to that of other members of RTÉ.

Mr Boucher-Hayes gave evidence about an encounter he had with Mr Callinan on December 17, 2013 in RTÉ – just before Mr Callinan was about to do an interview on Crimecall.

Before the encounter there had been an issue over what questions were to be asked of Mr Callinan. Mr Boucher-Hayes refused to use scripted questions

The RTÉ journalist claims that, in a private conversation with Mr Callinan, the then Garda Commissioner told him Sgt McCabe was not to be trusted, that he was a “troubled individual” with a “lot of psychological issues and psychiatric issues”.

Mr Boucher Hayes claims Mr Callinan also said Sgt McCabe was famous in An Garda Siochana for a set of grievances he had against Garda management and that there were other things he could tell Mr Boucher Hayes about him – “horrific things, the worst kind of thing” – but he didn’t elaborate further.

The journalist also alleges that Mr Callinan told him that if he wanted to know about Sgt McCabe or the penalty points issue, to contact Supt Dave Taylor.

Mr Boucher Hayes told the tribunal that he didn’t believe what Mr Callinan had said and he said he believed it was a smoke screen. He said he felt Mr Callinan was attempting to “wriggle out of being held to account on an issue that gave him personal discomfort” – i.e. questions about penalty points.

Mr Boucher Hayes met with Sgt McCabe in the summer of 2014 and, of this meeting, Mr Boucher Hayes said:

“I went, I met him, I reluctantly put the allegations to him. He wasn’t as shocked as I thought that he might be, because he had obviously heard them before. We talked at some length about where they might’ve come from. And although Maurice McCabe wasn’t and didn’t provide me with any documentary evidence to acquit himself of this allegation, I believed him. I, following just pure gut instinct, nothing else, decided that his rebuttal of what Martin Callinan was saying was so sincere I would have found it very hard to doubt. But I never, as I
said, broadcast anything on it, because it would have been devastating to his family, to his wife to have even issued his denial of it.”

Mr Callinan denies Mr Boucher Hayes’s claims.

It should also be worth noting, that – apart from Supt Taylor claiming he negatively briefed Mr Reynolds, which Mr Reynolds says isn’t true – Dublin City University professor Colm Kenny gave evidence to the tribunal that two security correspondents told him, in early 2014, that Sgt McCabe was being investigated for child abuse.

Mr Kenny didn’t mention the two correspondents when he gave evidence and even implored them to come forward to the tribunal themselves.

In any event, Mr Kenny subsequently gave the names of the two journalists to the tribunal and it emerged they were: RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds and Tom Brady, of the Irish Independent.

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

He also said they encouraged him to go and talk to gardai “up there” – which Mr Kenny took to mean gardai in Cavan/Monaghan.

[Both Mr Reynolds and Mr Brady strenuously deny the claim]

Tomorrow: Maurice McCabe And The Irish Times

Pics: Rollingnews/RTÉ

Michael McDowell (left) with Sgt Maurice McCabe at Dublin Castle earlier this month

This afternoon.

Dublin Castle, Dublin 2

Michael McDowell, senior counsel for Sgt Maurice McCabe, has begun his summing up at the Disclosures Tribunal into the alleged smearing of his client by senior members of An Garda Síochána.

Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the castle and can be followed here.

More as Olga gets it.



This morning.

Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.

The Disclosures Tribunal into the alleged smearing of Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe has resumed with the final summing up of evidence by legal teams being heard.

Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the castle and can be followed here and will be on Broadsheet on the Telly from 10pm.



From top: Niamh O’Connor; John Barrett; Tom Donnelly (centre); John Kierans; Mick Wallace and Clare Daly; John McCann; Fergus O’Shea and Cathal McMahon

This morning.

Dublin Castle, Dublin 2

The Disclosures Tribunal has resumed with Independent TD Mick Wallace currently giving evidence into his knowledge of the alleged smear campaign against garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

The tribunal earlier heard from Niamh O’Connor and Tom Donnelly, of RTÉ News and John Barrett, of human resources at An Garda Síochána. Also scheduled today are John McCann, a retired Garda superintendant,  John Kierans, editor-in-chief of the of the Irish Mirror, Fergus O’Shea, formerly of the irish Sun, and Cathal McMahon, formerly of the Irish Mirror.

Olga Cronin is live tweeting from the castle and can be followed here.

More as Olga gets it.


Sgt. Maurice McCabe

A journalist has informed the Disclosures Tribunal that former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor confirmed the Ms D allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe to him.

He’s also told the tribunal Supt Taylor suggested that he should travel to Cavan – where the D family lived.

This is alleged to have taken place in 2014.

The journalist no longer works for the newspaper with whom he was attached when this occurred.

His former editor has also confirmed to the tribunal that the journalist told him about the Ms D allegation and that he – the editor – established that the journalist’s source was Supt Taylor. The editor has told the tribunal he was not interested in publishing a story on the matter.

It’s understood that the journalist, who has confirmed to the tribunal that Supt Taylor told him to travel to Cavan, first heard about the Ms D allegation from another source.

It’s understood the journalist then contacted Supt Taylor and Supt Taylor confirmed the matter to him and then suggested he should go to Cavan.

The journalist is not one of the 11 journalists named by Supt Taylor as having been briefed by him.

The tribunal is examining allegations made by Supt Taylor that, at some point in the middle of 2013, he was instructed by the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan – with the knowledge of the then deputy Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan – to negatively brief journalists about Sgt McCabe.

He said this would have occurred up until the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned on March 25, 2014.

Supt Taylor alleges that he was instructed to convey to journalists that Sgt McCabe – who was raising concerns about poor policing in Cavan/Monaghan district at this time – was driven by maliciousness and motivated by revenge due to an allegation of sexual assault made against him in 2006.

This was the allegation made by a woman referred to as Ms D – the daughter of a former Garda colleague of Sgt McCabe’s, who was sanctioned after Sgt McCabe made a complaint on foot of the colleague attending the scene of a suicide after drinking alcohol.

In April 2007, the DPP found Ms D’s allegation had no foundation.

Supt Taylor alleges that he was instructed to tell journalists about this allegation and to tell them that the DPP ruled against a prosecution, but that he was to convey that it was still the “root cause” of Sgt McCabe’s complaints about poor practices within An Garda Síochána.

Supt Taylor has named 11 journalists as having been briefed by him.

They are: Debbie McCann, of the Irish Mail on Sunday; Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun; Paul Williams, of the Irish Independent; Paul Reynolds, of RTE; Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star; Juno McEnroe, of the Irish Examiner, Daniel McConnell, of the Irish Examiner; Cormac O’Keeffe, of the Irish Examiner; John Burke, of RTE; and Conor Lally, of The Irish Times; and John Mooney, of The Sunday Times.

Supt Taylor only added Ms McCann and Ms Murray to the list after the D family – who gave evidence to the tribunal last summer – told the tribunal that Ms McMcCann and Ms Murray had visited the D house in early 2014.

Ms McCann, Ms Murray and Paul Williams are the only journalists to have called to the D house in early 2014 – with just Mr Williams subsequently writing about Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

Mr Williams was put in contact with Mr D via Detective Superintendent John O’Reilly.

Mr O’Toole, according to Mr D, tried to contact him on Facebook around this time.

None of the 11 named journalists have corroborated Supt Taylor’s claim.

Specifically, in respect of Supt Taylor’s claim that he negatively briefed them about Sgt McCabe…

Debbie McCann told the tribunal that she had heard “murmurings” about Sgt McCabe in early 2014.

Asked specifically what she had heard, she said:

“I can’t remember exactly, but it was something — I think it was that I — there was an allegation there. I didn’t know what had happened with the allegation, what the allegation was about, I didn’t know any of the details in relation to the allegation, but just that there had been an allegation in the past.”

Ms McCann refused to tell the tribunal if she spoke to Supt Taylor before and after travelling to the house of Ms D in 2014 – on the basis of journalistic privilege.

Supt Taylor maintains that he did speak to her before and after she travelled.

Asked if she even thought about contacting Supt Taylor about the allegation, Ms McCann said she felt she couldn’t answer that question due to journalistic privilege.

She said if she had contacted anybody in relation to the allegation “it would have been purely on an off-the-record basis”.

Ms McCann also spoke of what her knowledge was about the allegation before travelling to the D house.

She said:

“I understood, going up there, I understood that there had been an allegation, it was historic in nature, I understood that it had been an allegation of inappropriate touching and I understood that the matter had been referred to the DPP and the DPP had ruled not
to prosecute.”

She also said she knew the names involved and that the allegation pertained to the daughter of a colleague of Sgt McCabe’s.

Ms McCann’s former colleague Alison O’Reilly has told the tribunal that Ms McCann told her: “Debbie said she had heard from Dave Taylor that the girl [Ms D] was in a bad way.”

When asked if she had told Ms O’Reilly this, Ms McCann said:

“…I didn’t tell her that I had heard from Dave Taylor. And in relation to that question, I am still very much of the view that I cannot discuss matters because of source privilege… because of my position on sourcing.”

After being pressed on this by the tribunal’s counsel, Ms McCann said:

“I can’t answer that question. He [Supt Taylor] has waived privilege. 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.”

The tribunal also heard that on the day Paul Williams’ first article on Ms D was published in the Irish Independent – on April 12, 2014 – Supt Taylor had texted Ms McCann.

At this point, Ms McCann was on maternity leave and she had a two-week old baby.

Asked about the contents of the text, Ms McCann said she couldn’t recall.

Asked if it was about Mr Williams’ article, Ms McCann said she couldn’t disclose any details of her conversations with Supt Taylor due to source protection reasons.

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Ms McCann if she believes being told the following facts – that there had been an allegation made against Sgt McCabe, that the allegation had been investigated, and that the DPP ruled against prosecution – if she would consider that a smear.

Ms McCann said:

No. In the context of my job, no, I ask questions all the time, and I don’t consider the person responding to my question as maligning a person, no.”

Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun – of News International – had initially told the tribunal, in correspondence, that she wouldn’t be commenting on her news gathering activities or sources.

But, when she gave evidence – several days after the chairman Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton warned he knew “an awful lot of people haven’t told me the truth” – Ms Murray apologised for this and said it felt counterintuitive at the time to reveal anything about her communications with Supt Taylor – due to journalistic privilege.

She also conceded that telling the tribunal – at an earlier stage – that Supt Taylor hadn’t briefed her about Sgt McCabe wouldn’t have infringed on her journalistic privilege.

It was put to her that she kept the tribunal “in the dark” about her position for a year and five months and Ms Murray apologised.

She admitted that she now wishes that she had told the tribunal of her position sooner.

Ms Murray told the tribunal how she started a full-time position as a news reporter at the Irish Sun in November 2013.

She said she first met Supt Taylor in early 2014 during a week when there had been seven murders in seven days and she met him at several crime scenes during that week.

Her first phone contact with him was around February 10, 2014 and Ms Murray explained she was told by her crime editor Stephen Breen to make herself known to Supt Taylor as he was going on holidays and she would likely be stepping in for him while he was away.

Ms Murray said Mr Breen told her she should contact Supt Taylor so that she would be added to the Garda Press Office mailing list.

Ms Murray said that, at that time in early 2014, she barely knew Supt Taylor.

She said she never spoke to Supt Taylor about Ms D before she visited the D house.

She said the tribunal had been wrong in its understanding of when Ms Murray visited the house.

It has been previously stated that Ms Murray was the second journalist to call to Ms D’s house in early 2014 – after Ms McCann and before Mr Williams visited the house and interviewed Ms D on March 8, 2014, and videoing part of that interview, following a visit to meet Ms D’s parents on March 5, 2014.

This is the evidence of Mr and Mrs D.

But Ms Murray said she must have called to the house after Mr Williams because when she met Mr D and Mrs D, she said they were anxious about the video interview Mr Williams did with their daughter.

Ms Murray said she was told to travel to the family by her then news editor Fergus O’Shea – after the Irish Sun learned that Mr Williams had an “exclusive” pending on Ms D and Sgt McCabe.

Prior to this instruction from Mr O’Shea, Ms Murray had been aware of an allegation of sexual assault against Sgt McCabe since early 2014. She said the source for this information wasn’t a guard.

Ms Murray said, after she was told to travel to Cavan, she found out the D family name via a journalist friend “who would have been very good” to Ms Murray and then subsequently obtained the landline phone number for the D family “fairly easy” through directory inquiries.

She then called ahead of her visit to the D house.

While Ms Murray didn’t tell the tribunal the identity of this journalist friend, who told her the name of the D family, she confirmed to the tribunal it wasn’t Ms McCann or Mr O’Toole.

After meeting with Mr and Mrs D, Ms Murray told Mr O’Shea in the Irish Sun that there was nothing that could be published and she said the newspaper wasn’t interested in the story.

Ms Murray went on to tell the tribunal that – about a week after her visit to the D house – she did speak to Supt Taylor about it.

She initially told the tribunal’s counsel Diarmaid McGuinness:

“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?”

Ms Murray was referring to the comment made by then Transport Minister Leo Varadkar that Sgt McCabe was “distinguished” on March 20, 2014, at a Road Safety Authority conference in Dublin Castle – just days before Mr Callinan stood down.

Mr Varadkar was calling on the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to withdraw his “disgusting” remark about the actions of Sgt McCabe and former Garda John Wilson – which he made in January 2014.

In relation to this, Ms Murray had the following exchange with Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe:

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: 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.

Ms Murray was shown phone billing records which show she spoke on the phone and texted with Supt Taylor on April 12, 2014 – the day Mr Williams’ first article on Ms D and Sgt McCabe was published in the Irish Independent.

Ms Murray said she’s sure they didn’t discuss Mr Williams’ story during these communications.

The tribunal also heard that Ms Murray had approximately 12 texts or calls from Supt Taylor before she visited the D house and then approximately 28 texts or calls from Supt Taylor between the visit to the D house and when they discussed her visit to the house.

Several months after Supt Taylor left the Garda Press Office in June 2014, the tribunal has already heard that there were more than 11,000 phone contacts between Supt Taylor and Ms Murray.

This was discovered during a criminal investigation into the leaking of material or information by Supt Taylor to journalists.

At this time, Ms Murray was helping him with his college work for this Masters in Political Communication.

Paul Williams repeated to the tribunal last week – after giving evidence to the tribunal last summer – that Supt Taylor never negatively briefed him about Sgt McCabe.

He’s also told the tribunal that he was never negatively brief about Sgt McCabe by either Mr Callinan or Ms O’Sullivan.

Asked, as he knows Ms McCann, if he would have told her about his pending story, Mr Williams said:

Absolutely not. I am 30-odd years in this business, we are in the process, from the time we went to college we were taught the most important thing in a journalist’s life is to get an exclusive. It’s inculcated in my culture that you do not talk to other journalists about any story you are working on. It is treated very privately, until such time as you can publish it.

He also said he didn’t know Ms Murray and he was “very surprised” to hear Ms Murray and the Irish Sun had heard he was working on an exclusive about Ms D.

Mr Williams’ articles on Sgt McCabe and Ms D were published on April 12, 15, 16 and May 3, 2014.

During the timespan of these articles, on April 29, 2014, Ms D emailed the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) claiming her allegation of sexual assault was not properly investigated and, a day later, on April 30, 2014, she met Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin in the Dáil.

Mr William flagged Ms D’s desire to make a complaint to GSOC and to meet Mr Martin in his earlier articles.

When Ms D did eventually give a statement to GSOC, on July 3, 2014, Ms D told GSOC that Mr Williams told her senior members of An Garda Siochana and in the Government were aware of her allegations.

When asked about this, Mr Williams said it was a “throwaway remark” that Supt Taylor said to him and that he later relayed it to Ms D.

Mr Williams told the tribunal last week that when he went to the D house, Mr and Mrs D told him unequivocally that two journalists – Debbie McCann and Eavan Murray – had previously called to the house.

In addition, counsel for the D family has told the tribunal that it’s their case that Ms Murray went to the D house before Mr Williams called.

[Fergus O’Shea, formerly of the Irish Sun, who sent Ms Murray to the D house, will be giving evidence later this week]

Mr Williams told the tribunal that the video he took of some of his interview with Ms D was on his laptop and he gave it to the tribunal and Mr Williams said he doesn’t believe the video was edited.

In addition, phone records that the tribunal have show Supt Taylor and Mr Williams weren’t in phone contact on the day Mr Williams interviewed Ms D – March 8, 2014.

Supt Taylor had alleged that Mr Williams called him on the day he interviewed Ms D and said “guess where I am?”.

Mr Williams says this did not take place.

The records who they did share a call on March 10, during which, Mr Williams said:

“I said I had interviewed Ms. D, I wanted to know had an investigation taken place, had there been arrests, there was an issue about Noel Cunningham, I think was the guard’s name who was in charge of it, that she had a number of issues in relation to that original investigation and I needed to check them to find out did this actually happen.”

Mr Williams says he also subsequently asked Supt Taylor if the Ms D matter had ever been placed on PULSE.

The tribunal heard that last week Mr D checked PULSE for entries on Sgt McCabe on March 23, 2014.

Asked if he asked Mr D to make this check, Mr Williams said he didn’t.

Asked if Mr D told him he made this check, Mr Williams said:

It was he, as I said last year, told me that the incident wasn’t recorded on Pulse. And I put that to — and his daughter had an issue with that so I put that to Dave Taylor at the time. I don’t know whether I put that subsequently to him.

Mr Williams claims Supt Taylor then came back and confirmed this to him – after he interviewed Ms D.

Mr Williams said:

“Superintendent Taylor confirmed that there had been an investigation, he confirmed that the file was sent to the DPP and it came back, there was to be no prosecution, which was run in that very short anonymised story.”

Mr Williams said he kept his contact with Supt Taylor “very straight”.

Asked what Supt Taylor’s reaction was when he told him that he had interviewed Ms D, Mr Williams said:

He didn’t go into anything, he didn’t start gossiping, or anything like that, no. To be absolutely clear, the waivers were given by all the protagonists, and that is why I cooperated with the Tribunal. If Mr. Taylor negatively briefed me in any other regard, apart from what I’ve told you and what is on the record, then I would tell you, and I would also tell you if Martin Callinan had given me that information, I would also tell you very clearly if Nóirín O’Sullivan had given me that information, because they have given waivers, and I don’t have anything to hide in relation to these people.”

In relation to phone calls he shared with Ms O’Sullivan in February 2014, Mr Williams said they were about security issues about himself and they were “absolutely not” about Sgt McCabe.

He also received a text from Ms O’Sullivan on the day his first Ms D article appeared in the Irish Independent. Mr Williams said he couldn’t recall the contents of that text but he said:

“The one thing I can tell you, though, is that Nóirín O’Sullivan never discussed the Maurice McCabe case with me.”

Paul Reynolds told the tribunal that he was never negatively briefed about Sgt. McCabe (we are working on a comprehensive report of Mr Reynolds’ evidence for tomorrow).

Conor Lally, of The Irish Times, told the tribunal that he’s invoking journalistic privilege in respect of questions put to him but, parallel to that, he said:

I wasn’t briefed negatively in any way by any member of the Garda. It’s very hard for me to answer in relation to specific Garda members without going into areas of sources, but certainly no member of the Garda ever, I mean past or present, ever negatively briefed me about Sergeant McCabe.”

Mr Lally said he did hear about a historical allegation against Sgt McCabe in 2011 or possibly 2010 – before Supt Taylor started working the Garda Press Office – and that he can’t remember who told him.

He said the person who relayed the information to him also told him that the allegation was “completely thrown out by the DPP”.

He also said:

“..there was nobody trying to drive home a point that he was a bad guy or you had to be wary of him, or anything like that. From my recollection, the kind of telling of this particular story was an explainer for how he fell out with Garda management, basically.”

Mr Lally said the allegation was “doing the rounds in journalistic circles” in 2013 and 2014.

Sgt McCabe is suing The Irish Times over an article which Mr Lally wrote about Ms D in February 2017.

Michael O’Toole, of the Irish Daily Star, told the tribunal that he first heard a rumour about Sgt McCabe in 2011/2012 – before Supt Taylor started working in the Garda Press Office – from a “very experienced journalist with significant access to the political world”.

Mr O’Toole said he checked out the matter with another person who had “done files” with Sgt McCabe and, following their communications, Mr O’Toole was satisfied the matter was “dead” to him, due to the DPP’s directions.

Mr O’Toole said this person was not someone from Garda HQ or the Garda Press Office.

Specifically, Mr O’Toole said:

Nobody in An Garda Síochána smeared or negatively briefed me about Sergeant McCabe.

“…no guard briefed me about Sergeant McCabe or mentioned or spoke or maligned him or spoke anything about or said anything about the sexual, the indecent assault allegation, anything. No Garda did.”

When Mr O’Toole gave evidence, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, said Mr O’Toole had recently “come into possession of some information that the tribunal is looking into” and that Mr O’Toole would be “providing a very short statement to the tribunal dealing with that”.

The tribunal has yet to hear any of details of this information.

Last summer, Mr D told the tribunal that Mr O’Toole had attempted to contact him via Facebook at around the time Ms McCann, Ms Murray and Mr Williams were in contact with the D family.

Nobody asked Mr O’Toole about this when he gave evidence.

John Mooney, of The Sunday Times – of News International – told the tribunal when he went before it that, while he had previously not answered questions put to him in correspondence from the tribunal – due to journalistic privilege – after giving the matter some thought, he wished to assist the tribunal.

Mr Mooney named Sgt Maurice McCabe as being an officer who made complaints about policing in Cavan/Monaghan back in 2010.

He said, around that time, someone, who wasn’t a guard, made “a very fleeting reference to an allegation against Sgt McCabe” to him.

He said he “subsequently made an inquiry about that [with a Garda source] and was told categorically that there was nothing in it”.

Mr Mooney added:

“I didn’t pursue it any further for the simple reason that these matters are confidential by the health services, the guards and the other statutory agencies involved and I don’t think it’s appropriate for journalists to get involved in examining them or trying to second-guess any sort of proper investigation that has been taken — that is being undertaken. So, I left it at that.”

Mr McDowell asked Mr Mooney if he would agree that to give out the details of the Ms allegation and investigation would constitute a negative briefing.

Mr Mooney said: “I accept your point of view on that” but later added that he could see both sides.

He also told the tribunal that he had no recollection of any journalist ever going up to him and telling him they’d been negative briefed about Sgt McCabe.

Daniel McConnell, Juno McEnroe and Cormac O’Keeffe, all of the Irish Examiner, had told the tribunal that they would neither deny nor confirm anything about any conversation they had with Supt Taylor.

Juno McEnroe initially sent a letter to the tribunal stating that he had no information relevant to the tribunal’s term of references.

But he later told the tribunal he’s claiming privilege and that he wouldn’t be confirming or denying if he had any information relevant to the tribunal.

He apologised to the tribunal for his earlier reply to the tribunal.

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 made against him, 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.”

Mr McEnroe did say that neither former Garda Commissioner 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 no longer in the Garda Press Office as he was transferred to Traffic in June 2014.

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 – he can recall a question mark was 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.”

Cormac O’Keeffe, also of the Irish Examiner, 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 did go 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 say he spoke to Mr Callinan “very, very rarely”, he has 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.

Daniel McConnell, a former group political correspondent at Independent News and Media but who is now a political editor of the Irish Examiner – where he has worked since 2015 – also told the tribunal that he can neither confirm or deny the claim by Supt Taylor that he negatively briefed Mr McConnell about Sgt McCabe.

Mr McConnell was writing for INM at the time of the Public Accounts Committee in January 2014 – when the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan made his “disgusting” remark – a week or so before Sgt McCabe went before the PAC in a private capacity.

He said there was vague “journalistic chatter” about Sgt McCabe at the time 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 around the time of these PAC meetings, that he would have done so several times and that he did this over the phone.

The tribunal saw that 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.

But Mr McConnell would neither confirm or deny this to the tribunal, saying:

“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 O’Connell 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.”

John Burke, of RTE, told the tribunal:

“I am absolutely certain he didn’t. It’s not something that would have passed me by. Had he said anything like that, had somebody like the head of the Garda Press Office made that point to me, I think one of the first things I would have done was attempted to check it out and I’d probably check it out with Maurice McCabe or representatives thereof. The fact I didn’t, I think actually speaks for itself. But absolutely, it didn’t happen, and I am mystified as to why my name is included on that list.”

The tribunal resumes on Thursday.