Saturday 20 October 2018

O'Sullivan says nobody at Garda HQ spoke to her about McCabe allegation

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan poses for a photo on her way into the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Tony Gavin
Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan poses for a photo on her way into the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Tony Gavin
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has insisted that no one ever spoke to her about a sexual assault allegation against Sergeant Maurice McCabe at a time the matter was being widely discussed in Garda headquarters.

Ms O'Sullivan also told the Disclosures Tribunal she could not recall the allegation being spoken about at meetings she attended, even though notes of those meetings suggest the topic was discussed.

The tribunal is investigating claims by former Garda press officer Dave Taylor that he was ordered by then-commissioner Martin Callinan to brief journalists about the allegation, and that this was done with the knowledge of Ms O'Sullivan.

Ms O'Sullivan flatly denied any knowledge of a smear campaign against the penalty points whistleblower, or that she was briefed about it by either Mr Callinan or Supt Taylor.

She also told the tribunal she did not trust Supt Taylor or feel comfortable in his company when she took the decision to transfer him out of the Garda press office in June 2014.

Cleared

Sgt McCabe was the subject of a Garda investigation after a woman, known as Ms D, made allegations in 2006 that she had been sexually assaulted by him as a child years earlier.

He was cleared in 2007 when the DPP found the events described would not constitute a crime.

In her evidence yesterday, Ms O'Sullivan said she learned of the allegation in 2008, as it was referred to in a report she received at the time in her capacity as assistant commissioner for human resources.

She insisted she did not encounter the allegation again until the O'Higgins Commission began in May 2015.

This was a commission that examined concerns raised by Sgt McCabe about policing matters in the Cavan/Monaghan division.

Ms O'Sullivan told tribunal counsel Kathleen Leader BL she had no recollection of the Ms D allegation being discussed at meetings in Garda headquarters in preparation for an appearance by Mr Callinan at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in January 2014.

Notes made by former assistant commissioner Jack Nolan and Garda director of communications Andrew McLindon indicate the allegation was discussed at some of those meetings.

Ms O'Sullivan also said she had no recollection of reading a letter from then-assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny in May 2014 which outlined details of a Tusla referral, containing an incorrect version of the sexual assault allegation.

Her private secretary, Supt Frank Walsh, responded to the letter, saying Ms O'Sullivan had noted it.

However, Ms O'Sullivan said she did not recall the letter being brought to her attention.

And even though she and Mr Kenny would meet Sgt McCabe on August 7 that year, the assistant commissioner never mentioned the notification to her, she said.

Michael McDowell SC, counsel for Sgt McCabe, asked if it was her evidence she never discussed Ms D's allegation with any other person in the force for all of those years.

"Yes, chairman. I had no reason to," Ms O'Sullivan replied.

Mr McDowell said there was evidence that in 2013 the allegation was being widely spoken about in Garda headquarters.

"Are you saying that nobody mentioned it to you?" he asked.

"Well, chairman, yes, I am. Nobody ever spoke to me in relation to it," said Ms O'Sullivan.

The former commissioner denied claims by Supt Taylor that he had alerted her on March 8, 2014, that Irish Independent crime journalist Paul Williams had interviewed Ms D.

The tribunal was shown phone records which show there is no record of Mr Williams phoning Supt Taylor that day.

Phone records showed that Ms O'Sullivan had a four-minute conversation with Supt Taylor that evening.

She said she could not recollect what was discussed, but added that Supt Taylor had never told her "anything to do with Mr Williams and Ms D at any stage".

Ms O'Sullivan texted Mr Williams on April 12, 2014, the day an article appeared outlining Ms D's dissatisfaction with the sexual assault investigation.

She said she could not recall what the text was about, but was certain she hadn't texted him about the article.

Irish Independent

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