Sunday 27 May 2018

Former Garda press officer denies he claimed Callinan composed sex slur texts about McCabe

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 is denying he ever told whistleblower Maurice McCabe that former commissioner Martin Callinan composed text messages about him containing sexual assault slurs.

Superintendent Taylor is also denying he suggested Mr Callinan’s successor Nóirín O’Sullivan was “the pusher” of rumours about Sgt McCabe.

Tara Burns SC, counsel for Supt Taylor, told the Disclosures Tribunal her client had a different account of a conversation which took place between him and Sgt McCabe in September 2016.

Her intervention led tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton to observe that there was “a chasm” between the two accounts of the conversation.

Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

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

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

He also testified that Supt Taylor told him Noírín 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 sex slur, but to her seeking to bring charges against Supt Taylor in relation to another issue.

However, Sgt McCabe stood by his account of what was said at the meeting and said he had taken notes.

Ms Burns pointed out that there was a single page of “disjointed” notes for a three-hour meeting.

Sergeant Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle yesterday
Sergeant Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle yesterday

Sgt McCabe acknowledged he didn’t take a full note of everything but said he “noted the important issues”.

He said he went back to Supt Taylor the following morning and asked about the text messages. He said Supt Taylor told him there could have been thousands of them.

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 added: “It would be hard to invent a story like that.”

He also denied it was possible he jumbled up what he had been told by Supt Taylor and said he had been at pains to give a correct account when he detailed the conversation in a protected disclosure.

“I was very accurate in relation to my protected disclosure. I didn’t want to put in one word that was wrong,” he said.

Sgt McCabe also said Supt Taylor had “specifically” used the word “pusher” in relation to Ms O’Sullivan. “He exactly called her that,” he said.

Ms Burns said her instructions were that Supt Taylor wasn’t discussing her pushing an agenda in relation to Sgt McCabe, but pursuing a prosecution against Supt Taylor.

“No. That is absolutely false,” replied Sgt McCabe.

The tribunal has previously heard Supt Taylor was suspended from duty at the time of the meeting. He has since been reinstated.

Later the tribunal heard that Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness would be corroborating evidence given by Sgt McCabe on Monday in relation to a conversation they had in 2016.

During the conversation, Mr McGuinness told Sgt McCabe he had met Mr Callinan in a hotel car park in January 2014, shortly before the whistleblower was due to give evidence about penalty points abuses in a private session of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee.

Barrister Darren Lehane, for Mr McGuinness, told the tribunal his client would be testifying that Mr Callinan told him Sgt McCabe had abused his own children and his nieces.

Mr Callinan does not dispute meeting Mr McGuinness, but denies making this allegation to him.

Meanwhile, Sean Gillane SC told the tribunal that RTÉ rejected the proposition that Ms O’Sullivan, while commissioner, using briefing material prepared in Garda Headquarters, influenced or attempted to influence broadcasts on May 9, 2016 purporting to be a leaked account of the unpublished O’Higgins Commission report.

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