A senior garda came to me with McCabe smears - Fine Gael TD
A second TD has said a "very senior" garda contacted him and smeared Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe, ahead of the whistleblower's appearance before the Public Accounts Committee.
The revelation by Fine Gael TD John Deasy has added weight to claims there was a deliberate attempt by senior Garda management to damage Sgt McCabe's reputation.
Speaking on RTÉ's 'Prime Time' last night, Mr Deasy described the allegations as "very derogatory" and made just before the PAC appearance in January 2014.
It was made clear that the senior garda was not current Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, who was deputy commissioner at the time.
"I was approached by a very senior garda and he proceeded to make some very derogatory comments about Sergeant Maurice McCabe," the TD for Waterford said.
Mr Deasy said the nature of the comments were that Sgt McCabe could not be trusted. "It was a serious attack and very strongly worded," he said.
"Maurice McCabe was in the Public Accounts Committee the following Thursday and I thought that he was credible, and I made that judgment.
"I formulated a view that he was correct. I think I, and others, realised there was a campaign against Maurice McCabe to undermine his character by gardaí."
Asked if he believed this was being done at a senior level in the Garda, Mr Deasy said yes. "I had first-hand contact of that."
Mr Deasy also said he met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny a few weeks later on a separate matter and asked to meet with him privately to speak about Sgt McCabe.
"He would have known that was something significant. It's not something I do every day, maybe twice in 15 years," he said. Mr Deasy said the Taoiseach listened to his concerns and the meeting ended.
Chairman of the PAC from the time, Kilkenny Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, has previously revealed how he met then commissioner Martin Callinan in a car park before the PAC meeting.
"The (former) Garda commissioner (Mr Callinan) confided in me in a car park on the Naas Road that Garda McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him," he told the Dáil last May.
"The vile stories that circulated about Garda McCabe, which were promoted by senior officers in the Garda, were absolutely appalling," he said.
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald again disputed claims by Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan over the Tusla file following last week's 'Prime Time' revelations.
Ms Fitzgerald said that Mr O'Callaghan had told her there would be a 'Prime Time' programme about false allegations against Sgt McCabe, and asked her to widen the inquiry terms of reference to cover smear allegations.
"I agreed to extend them," the Justice Minister said. But she again told the Dáil that she was not informed about the Tusla file.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he had no doubt that there was a campaign to undermine Sgt McCabe's integrity.