Wednesday 26 June 2019

The Disclosures Tribunal timeline

Wayne O'Connor presents a summary of the twists and turns as heard last week

Former Garda press officer Dave Taylor Picture: Collins Dublin.
Former Garda press officer Dave Taylor Picture: Collins Dublin.
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Monday: The young woman who alleged she was sexually abused by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe admitted she had a personal grievance against him.

In an emotional testimony during a private session of the Disclosures Tribunal, the woman, who is being called Ms D to protect her identity, said she spoke to journalist Paul Williams because she wanted to show another side to Mr McCabe. She said she was furious he was being portrayed as "a hero" and wanted people to know he was no saint: "I wanted to vent, I wanted someone to listen to me."

She said she decided to speak with a journalist and Detective Superintendent John O'Reilly, a colleague of her garda father, suggested Mr Williams. Her father, Mr D, said he facilitated the meeting in 2014 and denied he was involved in a campaign to discredit Sgt McCabe.

Ms D said Mr Williams told her she may wish to make a complaint to GSOC about the matter and he arranged for her to meet Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter.

TUESDAY: The tribunal heard Ms D met two GSOC officers and said her father told her Mr McCabe went to a secondary school and "watched the young ones" coming out. She said her father was told this by Det Supt John O'Reilly. Mr D denied this in his evidence to the tribunal.

Det Supt O'Reilly denied suggesting Ms D speak to Mr Williams. He said he passed on Mr Williams's number after Ms D's father referred to the crime reporter by name.

Paul Williams told the tribunal he was never briefed by senior gardai about rumours surrounding Mr McCabe and he had no access to a Garda investigation file on the case. He admitted he was aware of "vague rumours" circulating about the sergeant raising issues of garda malpractice because of bad blood in Bailieborough Garda Station and a complaint in relation to an earlier investigation.

Under questioning from tribunal counsel Diarmaid McGuinness SC, he denied he acted as "a puppet for the guards in participating, willingly or otherwise, in a smear campaign".

He said that one week after his interview with Ms D, he spoke with former Garda press officer Dave Taylor (inset below) to ask about the investigation.

John Ferry BL, for Supt Taylor, said his client would dispute this version of events and claim Mr Williams called him on the day he interviewed Ms D. Mr Williams denied this and denied suggestions from Mr McDowell that he had orchestrated events.

WEDNESDAY: Supt Noel Cunningham, the senior garda who investigated the sexual assault allegations against Sgt McCabe, said the whistleblower became "a thorn in his side". He added he believed the whistleblower had an input into a series of complaints against him but denied this prompted him to maliciously ignore a letter from Tusla in August 2013 seeking clarification about an incorrect allegation of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe.

Supt Cunningham said he was on leave when the letter arrived and was dealing with pressing issues and forgot about the letter when he returned to work. The tribunal also heard that Supt Cunningham told a HSE social worker the investigation would be challenging because Ms D was "spinning different stories".

The superintendent said Sgt McCabe was very distressed when he was interviewed about the original allegations in 2007. He added he remained "completely neutral" during the investigation despite working with Sgt McCabe and Ms D's father at Bailieborough Garda station. The whistleblower had previously complained about Mr D and two other colleagues. The three men had been at work on a day in January 2006 and later went to a pub. They arrived at the scene of a suicide in an emotional and intoxicated state before being removed by Sgt McCabe. The sergeant complained to superiors and a disciplinary tribunal led to Mr D being transferred. Ms D's complaint about historical sexual abuse was made months later.

THURSDAY: The superintendent who took up duties in Bailieborough in 2013 said he recommended a review of the earlier sex abuse investigation because of the media attention around Sgt McCabe. Supt Leo McGinn said he made the recommendation on May 7, 2014, the same day Tusla notified him Ms D had made an allegation to counsellor Laura Brophy about Sgt McCabe. He said he was aware the original investigation was carried out by a local officer and thought it would have been better if someone outside the Cavan-Monaghan division led it. He said the review would also have been beneficial if there were to be a "tribunal down the road".

He told the tribunal he had "no axe to grind" and had never met Sgt McCabe.

FRIDAY: A retired Cavan-Monaghan chief superintendent denied he passed on false allegations about Sgt McCabe in an attempt to smear him. Chief Supt James Sheridan said he had no intention to "do him down" when questioned about his forwarding of false allegations to Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny in May 2014. He said Supt McGinn told him the allegation was not true and admitted he should have passed this knowledge on in his correspondence to Assistant Commissioner Kenny.

He passed the original Garda investigation file on Sgt McCabe on to barrister Sean Guerin, who was investigating allegations of malpractice in Cavan-Monaghan, because he thought it was relevant. The tribunal also heard that Sgt McCabe was bullied by colleagues and the victim of hostility locally and online.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News