Wednesday 12 December 2018

O’Sullivan consulted with Department of Justice on McCabe legal strategy, tribunal hears

Maurice McCabe
Maurice McCabe
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan consulted with the Department of Justice before deciding to proceed with a legal strategy questioning the motivation of Sgt Maurice McCabe for making complaints.

The consultation took place in May 2015 while the O’Higgins Commission was examining Garda conduct and competence in the Cavan/Monaghan division on foot of a series of allegations made by Sgt McCabe about the way certain investigations were handled.

Details of the contact emerged at the Disclosures Tribunal, which today began public hearings in a module examining whether false allegations of sexual abuse or any other unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by Ms O’Sullivan to discredit Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.

The issue of what former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald knew at the time of the legal strategy almost collapsed the Government last month. An election was only averted when Ms Fitzgerald resigned.

Ms Fitzgerald denied having any input into the legal strategy.

Tribunal counsel Kathleen Leader BL said today that Chief Superintendent Fergus Healy, who was the garda officer liaising with the commission, kept a note of conversations he had with Ms O’Sullivan in which he sought confirmation of her legal instructions.

The note said Ms O’Sullivan “sought time to speak to the DOJ” before returning with instructions that if her legal counsel was advising the area of motive be explored “then she was inclined to give instructions to him to explore that issue”.

Lawyers for the commissioner had earlier advised that it would become necessary to put “certain background” issues to Sgt McCabe, including a garda investigation into a complaint he sexually assaulted a child, now known as Ms D, years earlier.

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided there was no evidence against Sgt McCabe, but he was upset the full contents of the DPP’s decision were not shared by gardaí with Ms D and her family.

The tribunal also heard recordings from the second day of the O’Higgins hearings, which took place in private, during which Ms O’Sullivan’s barrister Colm Smyth SC confirmed he had instructions to attack Sgt McCabe’s motivation and integrity “right the way through”

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