Friday 24 November 2017

Media told McCabe 'motivated by maliciousness and revenge' - whistleblower claims

  • RTE’s relationship with Garda HQ now under the spotlight
  • Meeting between PAC chairman and ex-garda chief will also be probed by commission
  • Garda Commissioner responds to Brendan Howlin's claims

Commissioner O’Sullivan has stated that she had no part in any campaign to discredit the so-called garda whistleblowers. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Commissioner O’Sullivan has stated that she had no part in any campaign to discredit the so-called garda whistleblowers. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

A former garda press officer claims he was directed by garda management to brief the media that sergeant Maurice McCabe was “motivated by maliciousness and revenge”, according to a whistleblower report.

The report also finds that Superintendent Dave Taylor alleges that he was “directed” to draw journalists’ attention to an “allegation of criminal misconduct made against Sgt McCabe”.

The two highly serious allegations are among nine that will now be referred to a Commission of Investigation, led by Supreme Court Judge Peter Charleton.

Crucially, Judge Charleton will also investigate whether Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and her predecessor Martin Callinan were involved in directing or instructing Supt Taylor to brief the media negatively against Sgt McCabe and encourage journalists to write negative articles.

These directions are contained in a report conducted by retired High Court judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill, which was published in redacted form by the Government today.

The report will now be handed in full to Judge Charleton, who will have nine months to conduct his full commission of investigation.

The judge will also be tasked with establishing whether Commissioner O’Sullivan used information available in Garda Headquarters to brief the National broadcaster RTE on the outcome of a previous commission of investigation into claims of garda misconduct submitted by Sgt McCabe.

And a meeting between Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, which took place in a hotel car park in 2014, will also be investigated.

Mr McGuinness, who at the time was chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), claims Mr Callinan detailed a number of allegations against Sgt McCabe at the meeting.

The inquiry will seek to establish whether Ms O’Sullivan was aware of this meeting.

Mr Justice O’Neill said he was aware of other garda whistleblowers who wished to raise concerns about work practices in the force.

However, he said the claims raised by Sgt McCabe and Supt Taylor were “unique” and should be reviewed by “stand alone” commission of investigation.

In a statement this afternoon, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said:

“That is what is now going to happen. 

"It is in the interests of both persons making the allegations and those against whom allegations have been made that the Commission, which will have all the necessary legal powers to attempt to establish the truth, be allowed proceed with its important work,” she added.

Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan responded to Deputy Brendan Howlin's claims in a statement this evening.

The Labour Party leader told the Dáil he was contacted by a journalist who claimed direct knowledge of the smear campaign against Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

"The journalist told me that they have direct knowledge of calls made by the Garda Commissioner to journalists during 2013 - 2014 in the course of which the Commissioner made very serious allegations of sexual crimes having been committed by Garda Maurice McCabe," said Mr Howlin.

The Commissioner this evening said she noted "with surprise" the comments made by Deputy Brendan Howlin in the Dáil.

"The comments made under Dáil privilege relate to allegations of the most serious nature against the Commissioner and other members of An Garda Síochána," the statement reads.

"The Commissioner has no knowledge of the matters referred to by Deputy Howlin and refutes in the strongest terms the suggestion that she has engaged in the conduct alleged against a serving member of An Garda Síochána.

"This is the first occasion on which the Commissioner has been made aware of the allegations made by Deputy Howlin and to her knowledge no report having been made to the Garda Siochána Ombudsman or elsewhere relating to the specific allegations."

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