Thursday 27 June 2019

'Chasm lies between Garda whistleblowers' stories'

Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins
Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins
Former Garda press officer Superintendent Dave Taylor. Photo: Frank McGrath
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda press officer Dave Taylor has denied he told fellow whistleblower Maurice McCabe that former commissioner Martin Callinan composed text messages about him containing sexual assault slurs.

This is one of a number of major differences to emerge between evidence given by Sgt McCabe to the Disclosures Tribunal and evidence Supt Taylor will give in the coming weeks.

Supt Taylor is also denying he suggested Mr Callinan's successor Nóirín O'Sullivan was "the pusher" of rumours about Sgt McCabe.

Other testimony from Sgt McCabe, to the effect that Supt Taylor told him there was an intelligence file on him codenamed Oísín in Garda Headquarters, and that his Pulse recordings were being monitored by an officer called Kieran, are also being disputed by Supt Taylor.

Tara Burns SC, counsel for Supt Taylor, outlined how her client had a very different recollection of what was said when he met Sgt McCabe on September 20 and 21, 2016.

Following those meetings, both men made protected disclosures alleging the existence of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, directed at the highest levels of An Garda Síochána.

Following the barrister's intervention, tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton observed there was "a chasm" between the two accounts of the conversation.

On Monday, Sgt McCabe testified that Supt Taylor told him Mr Callinan composed hundreds of texts which the superintendent then sent on to senior gardaí, journalists and TDs.

He said Supt Taylor told him that Mr Callinan instructed the press officer: "Do him (Sgt McCabe] down. He has to be buried."

He also testified that Supt Taylor told him Ms O'Sullivan was "the pusher" and knew everything that was going on.

However, Ms Burns said Supt Taylor denies telling Sgt McCabe that Mr Callinan composed texts to be sent on. Instead, texts between Supt Taylor and Mr Callinan were for monitoring media references to the whistleblower.

Counsel for Supt Taylor also said her instructions were that the reference to Ms O'Sullivan as "the pusher" was not in relation to spreading any sexual allegations, but a reference to her seeking to bring charges against Supt Taylor.

The tribunal has previously heard Supt Taylor was suspended at the time of the meeting over an unrelated matter. He has since been reinstated.

Ms Burns said Supt Taylor did not accept he named any officer who would have monitored Sgt McCabe's Pulse records.

She also said he was not actually aware if the Pulse records were being monitored. He had merely assumed they were as that would be the norm if someone was under investigation.

Ms Burns also said her client accepted he discussed the existence of a computer server called Oísín with Sgt McCabe, but he had not said he knew for a fact that Sgt McCabe was listed on that server. Again, this was an assumption, counsel said.

However, Sgt McCabe stood by his account of what was said at the meeting.

Ms Burns asked Sgt McCabe if it was possible he was in an upset state and perhaps misremembered the information imparted by Supt Taylor.

But Sgt McCabe denied this was the case. At one point during the cross-examination, Sgt McCabe said: "In fairness, how do you make up such a story?"

He also said: "I am not saying I have evidence against either of the commissioners. I am saying this is what he told me."

Mr Justice Charleton asked if it was still Supt Taylor's position that Ms O'Sullivan knew everything that was going on.

"It is just that there has been perhaps, one could say, a softening or a vagueness in relation to the three statements made by David Taylor to our investigators and what she knew," he said.

Ms Burns said she could confirm his position on this was unchanged.

Irish Independent

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