Tuesday 21 May 2019

Senior garda denies saying whistleblower Maurice McCabe 'watched girls at school' - tribunal hears

Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, Dublin
Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, Dublin
Michael McDowell at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle
Broadcaster Vincent Browne at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle
Eamon Dunphy at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle, Dublin

Gerard Cunningham

A senior garda officer has denied ever saying that garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe watched young girls at a school.

In his evidence to the Charleton tribunal Detective Superintendent John O'Reilly also denied nominating crime journalist Paul Williams to the woman's father, a garda colleague.

Det Supt O'Reilly said he was friendly with the garda, Mr D, and his family for over twenty years. He said in 2014 Mr D told him that his daughter was "not in good shape" and journalists had been calling to the family home.

In 2006 Ms D had made an allegation that she had been sexually assaulted by Sgt McCabe in 1998. After an investigation the DPP decided that the allegation would not constitute an offence.

A Tusla file on Sgt McCabe was subsequently opened after Ms D sought counselling in 2013, to which more serious allegations from an unrelated case were incorrectly added. The tribunal is looking into whether Sgt McCabe was the target of a smear campaign.

Supt O'Reilly said that in 2014 Mr D told him his daughter wanted to give her account of what had happened in 2006, but said she didn't want to go public. The witness said that Mr D asked him if he knew Paul Williams.

Michael McDowell at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle
Michael McDowell at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle

Supt O'Reilly subsequently contacted the journalist and passed his phone number on to Mr D.

Supt O'Reilly said he was not the one who suggested contacting Mr Williams, and he "would have no reason to suggest Paul Williams over any other journalist."

In his evidence yesterday Mr D said that Supt O'Reilly had first suggested contacting Mr Williams. He also denied ever telling his daughter that Sgt McCabe went to a secondary school and “watched the young ones” coming out.

In her evidence on Monday Ms D said her father had been told this by Supt O'Reilly. Supt O'Reilly denied ever saying this to Mr D.

Broadcaster Vincent Browne at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle
Broadcaster Vincent Browne at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle

"The first time I heard this was yesterday, I was absolutely flabbergasted. I never said it, I have no reason to say it," Supt O'Reilly said.

Supt O'Reilly told the tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton that in hindsight he regretted passing on Mr Williams number, adding that "friendships have deteriorated".

Journalist Paul Williams at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle
Journalist Paul Williams at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle

Earlier he had said that he was friends with both the McCabe and D families.

Earlier, the chairman asked Mr Williams if the Garda press office, as an official body set up to provide information, would tell journalists things off the record and in confidence.

Mr Williams said there was official comment and unofficial comment.

"So is the GPO (press office) there to give surreptitious comment to journalists?" the judge asked.

"Sometimes they'll go off record and say, I'll give you a steer on this, it's not what you think it is," Mr Williams said.

He said garda communications were "a grey world."

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