Thursday 18 October 2018

RTÉ journalist: Callinan told me McCabe had done 'most 'horrific things'

RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes. Photo: Stephen Collins / Collins Photos
RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes. Photo: Stephen Collins / Collins Photos

Gerard Cunningham

RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes has said the Charleton Tribunal can contact three people he told of a conversation where former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan told him Sgt Maurice McCabe had psychological issues and had done "the most horrific kind of things".

The tribunal is examining allegations of a smear campaign against whistleblower Sgt McCabe.

Mr Boucher-Hayes said he wanted to speak to Mr Callinan before an appearance on a December 17, 2013 'Crimecall' programme about what questions he would be asked.

Earlier that day, Andrew McLindon, the civilian director of communications for the gardaí, presented a list of questions to ask the commissioner.

Mr Boucher-Hayes told Patrick Marrinan SC, for the Tribunal, this was "frankly completely unheard of", and the commissioner should be asked about issues such as the penalty points controversy, rural stations closures and the Smithwick tribunal report.

Mr Boucher-Hayes said he later met Garda press officer Supt David Taylor, who told him: "You can forget about the boss answering questions about the penalty points, it's not going to happen."

Garda HQ told him "hell would freeze over before Callinan would answer questions on penalty points".

Mr Boucher-Hayes said he took Mr Callinan aside to speak to him "man to man" about the planned interview, and Mr Callinan spoke about whistleblowers. Mr Callinan first mentioned Garda John Wilson in passing and then about Sgt McCabe.

The commissioner said Sgt McCabe had well known issues, had psychological and psychiatric issues, and there were "worse things I could tell you" and "the most horrific kind of things". "I did not believe what I was being told right from the very start," Mr Boucher-Hayes said. "I felt it was a smokescreen that was being erected."

Supt Taylor said to him: "Now do you understand the issue with McCabe and penalty points?"

Mr Boucher-Hayes said he later spoke to his co-presenter Gráinne Seoige about what Mr Callinan had said and she was "shocked and appalled about it".

He also spoke to commissioning editor Niamh O'Connor and RTÉ radio producer Tom Donnelly.

In the summer of 2014, he went to see Sgt McCabe and put the allegations to him. He rejected them and Mr Boucher-Hayes said his gut instinct was to believe Sgt McCabe.

Noel Whelan SC, representing An Garda Síochána, said Mr Boucher-Hayes could have broadcast the story of the garda commissioner smearing a garda whistleblower.

Mr Boucher-Hayes agreed with RTÉ barrister Sean Gillane SC that a broadcast of the story would have bought him the biggest defamation case in history, or destroyed Sgt McCabe's family, or both.

The tribunal continues on Tuesday next.

Irish Independent

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