Sunday 15 September 2019

Former garda press chief had 11,000 contacts with journalists in four months after leaving job

Taylor's contact with journalists under spotlight at Disclosures Tribunal

Former Garda press officer Dave Taylor Picture: Collins Dublin.
Former Garda press officer Dave Taylor Picture: Collins Dublin.
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda press officer Dave Taylor had 11,000 contacts with journalists during a four-month period after he left the role, the Disclosures Tribunal has heard.

The extent of his contact with members of the media was discovered by gardaí investigating whether information about the taking into care of a Roma child in October 2013 had been unlawfully disclosed by a garda to a journalist.

That inquiry broadened out to include 12 distinctive disclosures of sensitive information to journalists.

Chief Supt Frank Clerkin, who led the investigation, said a file was sent to the DPP in August 2015 recommending that Supt Taylor be prosecuted for unlawful disclosure of information.

However, in February 2017, the DPP issued a final direction that there should be no prosecution and Supt Taylor, who was suspended for a period, was reinstated to his job in the Garda traffic bureau.

Chief Supt Clerkin gave evidence of checks the inquiry team did on communications involving Supt Taylor between 2013 and 2015.

Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe (Niall Carson/PA)
Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe (Niall Carson/PA)

Supt Taylor was transferred out of the Garda Press Office to the traffic bureau in June 2014, but the investigation found he maintained contact with members of the media.

In a period from September to December 2014, there were over 11,000 such contacts.

The tribunal heard 24.7pc of these contacts were with Eavan Murray, a crime journalist with The Sun.

Some 1.6pc were with John Mooney, a crime journalist with the Sunday Times, while 0.1pc of the contacts were with Irish Examiner political journalist Juno McEnroe.

All three are journalists Supt Taylor claims he briefed negatively about Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Chief Supt Clerkin told the tribunal he was asked to conduct the investigation by Assistant Commissioner John Twomey in 2014.

It followed a report from then Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan, who concluded a member of An Garda Síochána disclosed details of the Roma incident and the child involved into the public domain, contrary to Garda policy and legislation.

The inquiry team included Detective Supt Jim McGowan, the husband of then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

Chief Supt Clerkin said he had personally picked the investigation team and that Det Supt McGowan was not included at the behest of anyone else.

Earlier, the tribunal heard from a number of current and former staff at the Garda Press Office.

One civilian member, Chrissie Fitzpatrick, said Supt Taylor “felt he had been shafted” when he was transferred out of the press office and blamed Ms O’Sullivan and Garda director of communications Andrew McLindon.

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