Saturday 15 June 2019

Callinan denies telling TV host McCabe had psychiatric issues

Former commissioner of An Garda Síochána Martin Callinan arrives at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Former commissioner of An Garda Síochána Martin Callinan arrives at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan has disputed claims he told 'Crimecall' presenter Philip Boucher-Hayes penalty points whistleblower Maurice McCabe was "not to be trusted" and had "psychiatric and psychological issues".

Appearing at the Disclosures Tribunal, Mr Callinan also denied claims by solicitor Gerald Kean that he had described Sgt McCabe as "troublesome, obstructive and difficult".

The two are among five prominent public figures who have alleged Mr Callinan made comments maligning Sgt McCabe at various stages in late 2013 and early 2014.

The tribunal will next week hear Mr Callinan's testimony in response to accusations he told Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness that Sgt McCabe "fiddles with children", told Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy there were sexual offence allegations against Sgt McCabe, and told Fine Gael TD John Deasy that Sgt McCabe "was not to be believed or trusted with anything".

The tribunal is investigating allegations made by former garda press officer Dave Taylor in a September 2016 protected disclosure that Mr Callinan ordered him in mid-2013 to negatively brief journalists that Sgt McCabe had been investigated over a child sexual assault allegation. Supt Taylor has claimed then deputy commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan was aware of the order. Sgt McCabe was cleared of the allegation in 2007 following a Garda inquiry.

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The alleged smear campaign coincided with a period when Sgt McCabe's complaints about abuses of the penalty points system were causing considerable embarrassment for Garda authorities. But giving evidence yesterday, Mr Callinan not only denied speaking negatively about Sgt McCabe, but also said he believed the allegations of a smear campaign stemmed from "a grudge" Supt Taylor had against Ms O'Sullivan.

Within months of Mr Callinan's March 2014 resignation, Supt Taylor was moved out of the garda press office by Ms O'Sullivan. The following year he was arrested as part of an inquiry into the alleged unauthorised leaking of information to journalists, a probe that did not result in any charges.

Mr Callinan said Supt Taylor came to his house after the arrest and told him he had "a huge grievance" about being moved to the traffic bureau, that Ms O'Sullivan was the person responsible for his arrest, and he would "bring her down".

He alleged Supt Taylor decided that in order to make his story work he "had to involve Mr Callinan in the process".

Questioned by tribunal counsel Pat Marrinan SC, Mr Callinan said he was "certainly angry" after journalist Gemma O'Doherty called to his home in April 2013 while he was abroad on business. However, he said he had no argument with Ms O'Doherty subsequently publishing an article in the Irish Independent about him having penalty points he had incurredquashed, as it was factually correct.

He said there was nothing nefarious about quashing the points as he had been on his way to an important meeting.

Mr Callinan said his issue was he did not think it appropriate for a journalist to call to his home and that queries should be addressed to the Garda press office.

Asked about his use of the word "disgusting" at a Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting in January 2014, Mr Callinan said his comments were "isolated and misconstrued" in media reports.

He said the comment was about how personal data had ended up in the public domain and not the character of the whistleblowers. He said Sgt McCabe rightly reported what he saw to be wrongdoing and had proved to be correct on quite a large amount of issues he raised.

The tribunal heard that a document entitled 'Reports on McCabe and retired Garda John Wilson', which referred to the investigation into the sexual assault claim against Sgt McCabe, had been included in a pack of documents circulated for preparation meeting ahead of the PAC appearance.

Mr Callinan said he did not recall ever seeing the document.

Irish Independent

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