Tuesday 19 June 2018

Micheál Martin 'taken aback' by car park meeting between TD and Martin Callinan - tribunal

Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he was "taken aback" by the notorious car park meeting between one of his TDs, John McGuinness, and the then-Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Mr Martin today appeared at the Disclosures Tribunal which is investigating an alleged smear campaign against Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Last week the Tribunal heard that Mr McGuinness met Mr Callinan in the car park of a Dublin hotel the day after a meeting of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee where the Commissioner had claimed that the actions of whistleblowers was "disgusting".

Mr McGuinness has alleged that Mr Callinan told him during their meeting that Mr McCabe was not to be trusted and had abused a child.

Mr Callinan has rejected Mr McGuinness’s account.

There was no substance to sex abuse allegations against Mr McCabe.

In a letter to the Tribunal Mr Martin said that Mr McGuinness later came to his office in February 2014 and told him about the car park meeting.

Mr Martin said that Mr McGuinness had thanked him for raising Mr McCabe’s concerns about penalty points and other matters in the Dáil.

He said that towards the end of the conversation Mr McGuinness told him he had met Mr Callinan in the car park and the Commissioner had told the TD that Mr McCabe was not to be trusted and was a child abuser.

Mr Martin later said he was "taken aback" by this, firstly as it was a meeting held in a car part and secondly "the nature of it".

He said he didn't take a note of his conversation with Mr McGuinness reiterating: "I was taken aback."

Mr Martin told the Tribunal there was "rumour" about Sgt McCabe but he said it wasn't for him to progress the issue as "it was hearsay at the end of the day".

Mr Martin said that no Garda had ever given him a negative briefing about Mr McCabe.

He said there were queries to the Fianna Fáil press office asking if he was satisfied he was dealing with someone credible.

Mr Martin was asked if this affected his action.

He said: "I can't deal with rumour. If I had a substantial document in front of me I could deal with that."

He said he met Mr McCabe adding that his concerns over alleged Garda malpractice "wasn't all bluster, it wasn't all talk. There was substantive material... he had chapter and verse."

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