Friday 22 June 2018

Chief 'wanted to bury points issue'

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Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A former Garda press officer told a road safety chief that then Garda commissioner Martin Callinan was "determined to bury" the issue of penalty-points abuses raised by whistleblower Maurice McCabe, the Disclosures Tribunal has heard.

Supt David Taylor is also alleged to have told former Road Safety Authority (RSA) chief executive Noel Brett it was very likely Mr Brett's phone was being monitored.

Mr Brett later asked Mr Callinan's successor, Nóirín O'Sullivan, if his phone was being monitored and was assured that it wasn't.

The tribunal heard how in 2012 Mr Brett was contacted by Conor Faughnan of the AA about penalty-points abuses.

Mr Brett subsequently met Sgt McCabe and passed on a dossier the whistleblower had prepared to the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Garda Ombudsman.

The former RSA boss said he felt there was "a certain amount of hostility" towards him after he passed on the dossier.

He gave evidence that Mr Callinan engaged in a heated exchange with him at a meeting soon afterwards.

The row was not about the dossier but a separate road safety issue. But Mr Brett said it became so heated he and then RSA chairman Gay Byrne left the meeting. Mr Callinan later apologised.

Mr Brett also gave evidence of conversations he had with Supt Taylor after he left the RSA to become chief executive of the Irish Banking Federation. He said that during one of these Supt Taylor told him Mr Callinan "was determined to bury this [penalty points] issue".

Mr Brett said he became aware of a false sex abuse rumour about Sgt McCabe doing the rounds in the political system and among journalists, but never heard the details.

He also said he was not negatively briefed about Sgt McCabe by any garda.

Irish Independent

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