Saturday 20 January 2018

Former Commissioner Martin Callinan branded whistleblower Maurice McCabe a 'kiddie fiddler', Disclosures Tribunal hears

Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Photo: Tom Burke
Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Photo: Tom Burke
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan is alleged to have described whistleblower Maurice McCabe as “a kiddie fiddler” in conversation with the former chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The claim was made to the Disclosures Tribunal by former garda press officer David Taylor, who alleged the comment was made after a PAC meeting on January 23, 2014.

It is alleged Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, Garda communications director Andrew McLindon and Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney were also present when the comment was allegedly made.

In a separate statement, former PAC chairman John McGuinness told the tribunal Mr Callinan told him at a meeting in the car park in Bewley’s Hotel in Dublin the following day that rumours about Sgt McCabe were true, that he had sexually abused someone and was not credible.

The TD said Mr Callinan asked him if he was aware Sgt McCabe had abused family members and suggested he had gotten the committee into a lot of trouble for investigating the penalty points controversy.

Details of the alleged comments, which Mr Callinan vehemently denies making, were revealed at the Disclosures Tribunal today.

Counsel for the tribunal Diarmaid McGuinness said “allegations of the systematic destruction of the character of Sgt McCabe” were “to some extent” supported by a number of witnesses who had come forward to disclose conversations they had with Mr Callinan.

These included a number of journalists and John McGuinness.

The barrister also said there had been no direct evidence from potential witnesses that current Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan was involved in spreading “unpleasant or nasty comments” about Sgt McCabe.

He also said Ms O’Sullivan appeared not to know about the meeting between Mr Callinan and John McGuinness at Bewley’s.

Counsel said that if the former PAC chairman’s account was accepted, the conversation included “inappropriate comment” from which it could be inferred Mr Callinan had the “motivation and emotional charge” to attack the character of Sgt McCabe and perhaps direct his press officer to do likewise.

The tribunal is investigating allegations made by the former Garda press officer, Superintendent David Taylor, that he was directed by Mr Callinan to brief against Sgt McCabe.

Supt Taylor has also said that while he was not directed by current Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, she was aware of what was going on.

Ms O’Sullivan has denied any knowledge.

In a response to the tribunal, Mr Callinan gave a different account of the conversations with Mr McGuinness.

“The word paedophile never entered the conversation,” he said in relation to the Bewley’s meeting.

“I never at any stage indicated to Mr McGuinness that Sgt McCabe abused anyone or that an investigation was underway.

“I never at any stage indicated to Mr McGuinness that Sgt McCabe had sexually abused a family member and that he was not reliable.”

Mr Callinan insisted Mr McGuinness told him he already knew of certain allegations, which proved to be totally unfounded, that circulated at the time about Sgt McCabe.

In relation to the alleged conversation following the PAC meeting, Mr Callinan said the “assertion that I said this man fiddles with children is outrageous, is simply incorrect and untrue.”

However, Diarmaid McGuinness told the tribunal that the Comptroller & Auditor General Seamus McCarthy had also given an account of a conversation he had with Mr Callinan after the PAC hearing.

Mr McCarthy said Mr Callinan told him that Sgt McCabe was not to trusted, that he had questions to answer and there were sexual allegations against him.

The tribunal heard Mr Callinan recalled speaking with Mr McCarthy, but denied introducing any allegations about Sgt McCabe into the conversation.

Counsel for the tribunal also gave details of a statement provided by RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes, a presenter of the Crimecall programme.

He detailed how a stand-off ensued between RTÉ and the commissioner when Mr Callinan indicated he would not answer questions about the penalty points controversy during a scheduled appearance on December 17, 2013.

In a bid to defuse the situation, the journalist said he spoke Mr Callinan in a corridor.

He said Mr Callinan was only willing to offer background information, but this largely related to Sgt McCabe and another whistleblower, John Wilson, rather than the substantive penalty points issue.

The journalist said the then commissioner told him Sgt McCabe was trouble, had psychiatric issues, was motivated against Garda management and was not to be trusted.

He said Mr Callinan told him he knew “horrific things” and “the worst kind of things” about Sgt McCabe.

Mr Boucher-Hayes said he was told that if he wanted to know more he should speak to Supt Taylor.

The journalist said immediately after the programme he was “buttonholed” by Supt Taylor who said to him: “Now you understand what the problem is with Maurice McCabe and penalty points”.

The account of the conversation with Mr Boucher-Hayes is being disputed by Mr Callinan.

Earlier, Diarmaid McGuinness said Supt Taylor alleged he was briefing the media negatively to the affect that an allegation of criminal misconduct had been made against Sgt McCabe in December 2006, relating to an event which had supposedly taken place in his house as far back as 1998.

The barrister said that when this complaint was referred to the DPP, the referring officer said, based on the facts presented, no sexual assault had occurred.

The DPP directed there should be no prosecution.

Counsel said that it would have been shocking if Supt Taylor had spread the story off his own bat.

But he said it would be even more shocking if those tasked with leading the Garda Síochána were “to resort to a culture of deceit in order to destroy those whom it was thought were making life uncomfortable for them”.

The barrister said the tribunal had been unable to find evidence that any professional media organisation took up and ran with the allegations.

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