Monday 9 December 2019

Judge says Noirin O’Sullivan did not use false sex abuse claim against Maurice McCabe

Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: PA
Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan Photo: PA
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Nóirín O'Sullivan did not use false allegations of sexual abuse to discredit Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O'Higgins Commission, Mr Justice Peter Charleton has said.

The chairman of the Disclosures Tribunal said he believed all parties could agree on this based on evidence it has heard so far.

However, he said the tribunal still had to determine whether the former commissioner relied on other unjustified grounds to discredit Sgt McCabe at the commission.

The remarks indicate the Supreme Court judge is satisfied Ms O’Sullivan did not seek to rely on a historical allegation that Sgt McCabe had sexually assaulted a child in a bid to discredit him in the eyes of the commission, which was investigating complaints the whistleblower had made of Garda malpractice in the Cavan/Monaghan division.

The sexual assault allegation was dismissed by the DPP in 2007 following a Garda investigation.

Mr Justice Charleton made the remarks at the conclusion of evidence given by Annmarie Ryan, a solicitor from the Chief State Solicitor’s Office who represented the former commissioner and other gardaí at the O’Higgins Commission.

“When you look at the relevance of her evidence, which is whether at the O’Higgins Commission the Garda Commissioner sought to use false allegations of sexual abuse to discredit Sgt McCabe, everyone agrees that this didn’t happen,” he said.

“I see no reason to think that it might have happened. So it is down to this: Did Commissioner O’Sullivan use unjustified grounds in order to discredit Sgt McCabe at the commission? That is what it is down to.”

Earlier, the tribunal heard that while many of Sgt McCabe’s claims were upheld by the commission, some were not and he also withdrew allegations of corruption he had made against a senior officer.

Sgt McCabe had alleged Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne had failed to uncover and report serious derelictions of duty, falsification of Garda records and serious incidents not being investigated.

However, all of the allegations against Mr Byrne were withdrawn by Sgt McCabe at the commission.

“It all fell away and he withdrew the allegations,” said Ms Ryan.

“It all crumbled and fell away as there was no evidence to support them.”

She said the allegations Sgt McCabe had made left some senior officers having difficulty sleeping at night.

“They were under enormous stress and I would hear how the stress affected them and their wives and children,” she said.

Ms Ryan said she would have expected someone would have needed proof to support allegations that had such an impact on individuals and their families.

The tribunal heard that an allegation of corruption made by Sgt McCabe against former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, which the whistleblower did not withdraw, were rejected by the commission.

The allegation against Callinan related to the promotion of another officer against whom Sgt McCabe had made serious allegations.

Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, said that he could make similar statements about sleepless nights on behalf of his client.

He said that the O'Higgins Commission had unreservedly accepted Sgt McCabe's bona fides, and called him "a man of integrity".

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