Wednesday 20 February 2019

McCabe felt 'under threat' from O'Sullivan, tribunal hears

Noirin O'Sullivan
Noirin O'Sullivan

Sergeant Maurice McCabe felt "under threat" from then Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan after her lawyers sought to challenge his motivation for raising concerns about garda malpractice at a behind-closed-doors State inquiry.

The whistleblower told his superintendent, Alan Murray, he wanted to leave his post as sergeant in charge of the garda traffic unit in Mullingar because if anything was to go wrong "it would come down on him like a ton of bricks".

The startling conversation happened three days after lawyers for Ms O'Sullivan indicated at the O'Higgins Commission they would be challenging his motivation and credibility.

Details of the conversation on May 18, 2015, emerged at the Disclosures Tribunal, which is investigating whether Ms O'Sullivan, who stepped down last September, relied on unjustified grounds to discredit Sgt McCabe at the commission.

A memo, written by Supt Murray and sent up the chain of command, said Sgt McCabe "did not feel safe" remaining in the sergeant-in-charge role.

"As an explanation, he indicated the reason was Noirin O'Sullivan and that he felt under threat," Supt Murray's memo said.

Ms O'Sullivan told the tribunal she could understand Sgt McCabe may have felt under pressure.

However, she added: "I was at a loss to know what he meant when he said he was under threat from me, and that if something happened I would be down on him like a ton of bricks, because that was certainly never the impression given."

During almost four hours of questioning, Ms O'Sullivan defended her decision to instruct lawyers to challenge Sgt McCabe.

She said the instruction was based on legal advice and that, while credibility and motivation were to be examined, she never considered Sgt McCabe to be "malicious" or lacking integrity.

The hearing is set to resume today at Dublin Castle.

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