Thursday 13 December 2018

Disclosures Tribunal: Senior garda officer contradicts evidence given by force's HR Director

Garda HR chief John Barrett at the tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Garda HR chief John Barrett at the tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A senior officer has flatly contradicted evidence given by Garda human resources director John Barrett at the Disclosures Tribunal.

Chief Superintendent Tony McLoughlin denied ever confirming to Mr Barrett that they had discussed an alleged comment about whistleblower Maurice McCabe by the force’s former chief administration officer Cyril Dunne.

This is at odds with testimony given by Mr Barrett last week.

Mr Barrett has claimed Mr Dunne told him in May 2015 “we are going after” Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission.

He also claimed he informed Chief Supt McLoughlin of Mr Dunne’s alleged remark six weeks to two months later.

Last week Mr Barrett told the tribunal that he had recently checked with Chief Supt McLoughlin and the senior garda had confirmed to him that they had spoken about the incident.

However, in evidence today, Chief Supt McLoughlin, who worked alongside Mr Barrett in the human resources department, said he had no memory of Mr Barrett mentioning the alleged remark to him in 2015 or 2016.

Chief Supt McLoughlin also said that when Mr Barrett came to him last December, asking if he remembered them having a conversation about Mr Dunne’s alleged remark in 2015 he clearly told him that he didn’t.

“I said: ‘No John, I don’t’,” he told the tribunal today.

Chief Supt McLoughlin also said Mr Barrett again raised the issue with him again earlier this year on January 26.

“I said: ‘No, I don’t John. I don’t recall or remember having that conversation’,” Chief Supt McLoughlin said.

The senior officer said had there been a conversation about the matter in 2015, it would “most probably” have stood out in his mind.

Earlier today, Mr Dunne gave evidence in which he denied every making the comment.

Asked how he could be so sure, he said he had no involvement in drawing up the legal strategy of then Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to challenge Sgt McCabe’s credibility and motivation at the commission.

He said he was not involved in any discussions on the strategy and there would have been no basis for him to make the remark.

In its current module the tribunal is examining whether unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by Ms O’Sullivan to discredit Sgt McCabe at the commission, which sat in private in 2015.

Ms O’Sullivan gave lawyers the go ahead to challenge Sgt McCabe’s motivation and credibility at the commission, but denies giving instructions to question his integrity. The legal strategy was adopted at a time she was publicly backing the Garda whistleblower.

Mr Dunne said he was not conscious of what was going on at the commission while it was ongoing.

“The O’Higgins Commission was going on in private, so there was no discussion going on about it in the organisation,” said Mr Dunne.

It was put to him by John Rogers SC, for Mr Barrett, that his client’s recollection was very clear.

“I deny it,” replied Mr Dunne.

The tribunal has previously heard evidence that although Mr Barrett did not make a note of the alleged remark, he believed it may have taken place after a meeting at Garda Headquarters on the evening of May 13, 2015, the day before the commission began.

However, Mr Dunne has testified he was at a golf club meeting in Co Wicklow at the time.

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