RELATIONS between senior garda management and Sergeant Maurice McCabe reached a new low last night, as the whistleblower accused the force of making "gravely misleading and false" claims.
Sgt McCabe reacted furiously to allegations that he did not "co-operate" with an internal garda inquiry into the quashing of penalty points.
The sequence of events was called into question when Opposition politicians began claiming that Sgt McCabe had never been asked to co-operate with the penalty points investigation.
But gardai insisted that the Garda Commissioner had sent out a directive on December 14, 2012. This was in line with a statement earlier given by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to a Dail committee last year.
A directive was circulated by senior officers in each division to all members of the force, and was read out by officers to each of the whistleblowers in December 2012.
However, the row took a fresh twist last night when Sgt McCabe insisted: "I was never directed by the Commissioner to co-operate with the O'Mahony investigation as alleged." He added: "As a member of the Garda Siochana, I have tried to uphold its integrity by complying with my duty and being truthful in my dealings with my superiors and with the public office holders with whom I have been dealing in relation to these matters."
Sgt McCabe last night released a transcript of an alleged conversation between him and a senior officer, which he claims proves he was never asked to co-operate with the inquiry conducted by Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony.
The senior officer met Sgt McCabe in private and relayed the directive after senior gardai became aware that he and fellow whistleblower John Wilson were compiling information to give to a member of the Dail.
The conversation took place on December 14, 2012, in Mullingar garda station but it appears there are differing interpretations as to what was meant by the conversation.
The transcript, as released by Sgt McCabe, suggests he was informed not to use PULSE and that private information must not be disclosed to third parties.
Interpretation of the December 14 conversation is now subject to a major dispute, as senior gardai claim that Sgt McCabe had instructions to co-operate fully with the O'Mahony inquiry.
Sgt McCabe became ill later that month and was on sick leave from December to April.
In the meantime, the penalty point complaints which had been made anonymously were investigated by Mr O'Mahony and a report completed on them for Mr Callinan. Gardai insist that attempts were made to contact Sgt McCabe during this period.
However, Sgt McCabe last night claimed: "I was never contacted by anyone conducting the O'Mahony investigation which completed its report without making any attempt to speak with me or to seek my input or co-operation into its inquiries."
The direct clash between Sgt McCabe and senior gardai adds another dimension to the ongoing controversy.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter is expected to make a statement today in a bid to finally bring clarity to his handling of the whistleblower affair.
But Sgt McCabe's intervention late last night is sure to be seized upon by the Opposition, who have called on Mr Shatter to apologise to Sgt McCabe after he claimed he did not co-operate in the O'Mahony inquiry.
Separate allegations made by Sgt McCabe were subjected to another investigation led by a separate assistant commissioner. The gardai took 11 statements from Sgt McCabe and the investigation ended with a 10-volume file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The DPP subsequently determined there was no evidence to warrant a criminal prosecution.
A separate investigation was carried out by the garda internal audit and professional standards unit on the direction of Mr Callinan, and it found there had been breaches of process and procedures when they examined the complaints lodged by Sgt McCabe.
These resulted in disciplinary action being taken against several members of the force.