Wednesday 21 March 2018

Callinan to avail of legal team used by under-fire Garda chief

Garda commissioner Martin Callinan Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Garda commissioner Martin Callinan Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan has made his first return to Garda HQ, as he prepares his defence against allegations that he was involved in a smear campaign against whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Mr Callinan is understood to have met his successor Nóirín O'Sullivan twice in recent days, as he considers whether to request legal representation from An Garda Síochána at the upcoming Charleton inquiry.

It now appears likely both Mr Callinan and Ms O'Sullivan will use the same legal team during the course of the inquiry, which is being led by judge Peter Charleton.

The force is preparing to use significant resources to build a legal team to both parties.

Among the lawyers hired by An Garda Síochána are former Fianna Fáil adviser Noel Whelan, and Remy Farrell, who was the lead member of the legal team tasked with defending murderer Graham Dwyer.

Sources within An Garda Síochána have expressed unease over the prospect of Mr Callinan and Ms O'Sullivan effectively joining forces to defend against the alleged smear campaign.

The pair are believed to have met last week and again on Monday - along with lawyers - in what is known as the officers' club in Phoenix Park.

It's understood the meetings were sought by Mr Callinan because as a former commissioner, he is entitled to avail of legal representation from An Garda Síochána.

He also has the option of availing of independent legal advice if he wishes.

Among the questions Mr Callinan will face at the Disclosures Tribunal is why he sought to meet Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness prior to a planned appearance at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by Sergeant McCabe.

Mr McGuinness, the then committee chairman, has alleged that Mr Callinan sought to discredit Sgt McCabe at the meeting, which was held in a hotel car park off the Naas Road.

Mr Callinan will also be quizzed over his role in the alleged smear campaign against garda whistleblowers.

The meetings in Garda HQ illustrate the preparatory work being put in by An Garda Síochána prior to the start of the public hearings.

As revealed last week, Superintendent David Taylor - who was Mr Callinan's former press officer - has been served with fresh internal disciplinary action over allegations he leaked material to the media. He has already been cleared of these allegations by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

This newspaper also revealed senior ministers were unaware of plans by Ms O'Sullivan to appoint two retired officers - Mick O'Sullivan and Brendan Mangan - to the garda unit that will liaise with Mr Justice Charleton.

This unit, headed by Detective Superintendent Tony Howard, is separate from the legal team being put in place.

Irish Independent

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