Tuesday 25 July 2017

Callinan denies branding Garda whistleblower McCabe a 'kiddie fiddler'

Leading the tribunal: Justice Peter Charleton. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Leading the tribunal: Justice Peter Charleton. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan is alleged to have described whistleblower Maurice McCabe as a "kiddie fiddler" in a conversation with the former chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee.

The claim was made to the Disclosures Tribunal by former Garda press officer David Taylor, who alleged the comment was made after a PAC meeting on January 23, 2014.

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy has also told the tribunal Mr Callinan spoke to him outside the same PAC meeting, telling him Sgt McCabe was not to be trusted, had questions to answer and that there were allegations of sexual offences against him.

RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes has also alleged Mr Callinan made negative comments about Sgt McCabe and described him as being troubled and suffering from psychological and psychiatric issues.

The former commissioner is disputing the statements.

However, counsel for the tribunal Diarmaid McGuinness said "allegations of the systematic destruction of the character of Sgt McCabe" were "to some extent" supported by a number of witnesses who had come forward to disclose conversations they had with Mr Callinan.

In an opening statement to the tribunal, he outlined how these witnesses included former PAC chairman John McGuinness. In addition to speaking to Mr Callinan after the PAC meeting, Mr McGuinness met him in the car park in Bewley's Hotel in Dublin the following day.

He claims Mr Callinan told him rumours about Sgt McCabe were true, that he had sexually abused someone and was not credible. The TD said Mr Callinan asked him if he was aware Sgt McCabe had abused family members and suggested he had gotten the committee into a lot of trouble for investigating the penalty points controversy.

The account was vehemently denied by Mr Callinan.

"I never at any stage indicated to Mr McGuinness that Sgt McCabe abused anyone or that an investigation was under way," he said in a statement.

Counsel for the tribunal said there had been no direct evidence from potential witnesses that current Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan was involved in spreading "unpleasant or nasty comments" about Sgt McCabe. He also said Ms O'Sullivan appeared not to know about the Bewley's meeting.

Counsel said if the former PAC chairman's account was accepted, the conversation included "inappropriate comment" from which it could be inferred Mr Callinan had the "motivation and emotional charge" to attack the character of Sgt McCabe and perhaps direct his press officer to do likewise.

The tribunal is investigating allegations by Supt Taylor that he was directed by Mr Callinan to brief the media against Sgt McCabe.

This included drawing their attention to a sexual abuse allegation which proved to be completely unfounded.

Irish Independent

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