Friday 23 August 2019

Disclosures Tribunal: McCabe not withdrawing complaints over RTE report that branded him 'a liar'

Whistleblower Maurice McCabe
Whistleblower Maurice McCabe
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

GARDA whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe is not withdrawing his complaint about RTE and its crime correspondent Paul Reynolds, the Disclosures Tribunal has heard.

One of the issues the tribunal has been investigating is whether then-Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan influenced or attempted to influence RTE reports in May 2016 “in which Sgt McCabe was branded a liar and irresponsible.”

The whistleblower has said he had it “on impeccable authority” that the broadcasts were “planned and orchestrated by Ms O’Sullivan, using briefing material prepared at Garda headquarters.”

However, the “impeccable authority” - head of Garda human resources, John Barrett - has since given a statement saying that Sgt McCabe is incorrect.

Yesterday, Noel Whelan BL, for the gardai, asked if Sgt McCabe was maintaining his claim. Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe had replied that the claim “might not be sustained.”

But this morning, Mr McDowell said: “Sgt McCabe isn’t in a position to withdraw anything. He has faithfully reported to the tribunal what he was told by Mr Barrett, it is up to the tribunal to ascertain whether his account of what he was told by Mr Barrett is correct or is not.”

He said Sgt McCabe was not withdrawing his testimony.

Chairman, Mr Justice Charleton, said once he was required to investigate something, “I have to do it.”

RTÉ reporter Paul Reynolds at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
RTÉ reporter Paul Reynolds at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

If it was being said by someone now that they were misunderstood, “obviously it does make a difference” but “let’s see how things shape up here.”

The relevant statement had been circulated, he said.

Mr Reynolds then continued a third day of evidence, with cross examination by Mr McDowell.

Whether the RTE broadcasts were influenced by Ms O’Sullivan is one of the issues being examined by the tribunal, which is investigating an alleged smear campaign by senior gardai against penalty points whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Mr Reynolds is one of 11 journalists former Garda Press Officer, Supt Dave Taylor claims to have negatively briefed about Sgt McCabe between mid-2013 and March 2014.

Supt Taylor has said he was ordered to do so in mid-2013 by then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and with the knowledge of then-Deputy Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan. They both deny his allegations.

The alleged briefing was that Sgt McCabe had been investigated over a historic allegation of child sexual assault. While Sgt McCabe was investigated over a complaint made by a woman known as Ms D, the DPP decided in 2007 not to prosecute and what was described by her did not amount to a crime.

Mr Reynolds has denied that he was negatively briefed by anyone and said Garda Headquarters had “absolutely no influence” over him when he reported on May 9, 2016 on the leaked findings of the O’Higgins Commission report on policing failures.

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