herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Callinan denies McCabe smears and claims Taylor had 'a grudge'

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan at the tribunal
Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan at the tribunal

Former garda commissioner Martin Callinan has disputed claims he told Crimecall presenter Philip Boucher-Hayes penalty points whistleblower Maurice McCabe was "not to be trusted" and had "psychiatric and psychological issues".

Appearing at the Disclosures Tribunal, Mr Callinan also denied claims by solicitor Gerald Kean that he had described Sgt McCabe as "troublesome, obstructive and difficult".

The two are among five prominent public figures who allege Mr Callinan made comments maligning Sgt McCabe in late 2013 and early 2014.

The tribunal will next week hear Mr Callinan's testimony in response to accusations he told Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness that Sgt McCabe "fiddles with children"; told Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy there were sexual offence allegations against Sgt McCabe; and told Fine Gael TD John Deasy that Sgt McCabe "was not to be believed or trusted with anything".

The tribunal is investigating allegations by former garda press officer Dave Taylor that Mr Callinan ordered him in mid-2013 to negatively brief journalists that Sgt McCabe had been investigated over a child sexual assault allegation.

Supt Taylor has claimed then deputy commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was aware of the order.

Sgt McCabe was cleared of the allegation in 2007 following a garda inquiry.

Grievance

The alleged smear campaign coincided with a period when Sgt McCabe's complaints about abuses of the penalty points system were causing embarrassment for garda authorities.

Yesterday, Mr Callinan not only denied speaking negatively about Sgt McCabe but said he believed the allegations of a smear campaign stemmed from "a grudge" Supt Taylor had against Ms O'Sullivan.

Within months of Mr Callinan's March 2014 resignation, Supt Taylor was moved out of the garda press office by Ms O'Sullivan. The following year, he was arrested over alleged unauthorised leaks but no charges were brought against him.

Whistleblower Maurice McCabe
Whistleblower Maurice McCabe

Mr Callinan said, after the arrest, Supt Taylor told him he had "a huge grievance" at being moved to the garda traffic bureau, that Ms O'Sullivan was the person responsible for his arrest and he would "bring her down".

He alleged Supt Taylor decided that in order to make his story work, he "had to involve Mr Callinan in the process".

Questioned by tribunal counsel Pat Marrinan, Mr Callinan said he was "certainly angry" after journalist Gemma O'Doherty called to his home in April 2013 while he was abroad on business.

However, he said he had no argument with Ms O'Doherty subsequently publishing an article in the Irish Independent about him having penalty points quashed, as it was factually correct.

Asked about his use of the word "disgusting" at a Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting in January 2014, Mr Callinan said it was "misconstrued" in media reports and was about how personal data had ended up in the public domain and not the character of the whistleblowers.

He said Sgt McCabe rightly reported what he saw to be wrongdoing and had proved to be correct on quite a large amount of issues he raised.

The tribunal heard that a document which referred to the investigation into the sexual assault claim against Sgt McCabe had been included in a pack of documents circulated for preparation meeting ahead of the PAC appearance.

Mr Callinan said he did not recall ever seeing the document.

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