Friday 20 September 2019

'I did not start vendetta against McCabe after article' - Callinan

Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan says he did not start "a vendetta" against whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe after an article saying he had his own penalty points cancelled.

The story, published in the Irish Independent in April 2013, revealed Mr Callinan had points quashed after being caught speeding in 2007, when he was deputy commissioner.

Mr Callinan accepted the article, by former INM journalist Gemma O'Doherty, was about a matter of public interest. He said he had requested the penalty notice to be removed as he had been "attending to a serious operational matter".

The tribunal heard Ms O'Doherty called to Mr Callinan's home to verify that he was the person living at the address given on a Pulse record of the speeding detection.

This prompted Mr Callinan to ask his press officer, Supt Dave Taylor, to complain to INM and point out that queries should be dealt with through the Garda press office. Supt Taylor and then assistant commissioner John Twomey later met Michael Denieffe, then INM managing editor, to discuss the issue.

Mark Harty SC, for Ms O'Doherty, said she "was effectively rained down on by a tonne of bricks by editorial staff" at INM. He said she was told "she had ruined things and that she was a rogue journalist".

John Freeman BL said there was an "unequivocal denial" of these allegations by INM.

He referred to claims by Ms O'Doherty that her dismissal from INM was significantly contributed to by Mr Callinan, and that he had communicated his anger to INM over her modus operandi and her support for Sgt McCabe and another whistleblower, Gda John Wilson.

Mr Freeman said his instructions were that the meeting concerned the appropriateness or otherwise of an INM journalist attending the home of a Garda commissioner and had nothing to do with Ms O'Doherty's support, or perceived support, for Sgt McCabe or Mr Wilson.

Mr Harty said Ms O'Doherty was of the view that animosity towards Sgt McCabe increased following the publication of her story.

He put it to Mr Callinan that the penalty points issue became personal to him at that stage. But Mr Callinan responded: "I didn't take it personal against Sgt McCabe to start some sort of vendetta."

Mr Justice Peter Charleton asked where was there evidence of a sudden increase of ire or disapproval towards Sgt McCabe. "It would seem to be the opposite," he said.

Mr Harty said this was his client's view and he felt it was important to put it to the commissioner.

Breffni Gordon BL, for Sgt McCabe, said his client was not the source of the Pulse speeding record.

Irish Independent

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