Saturday 23 February 2019

Whistleblower 'called a fella who fiddles with kids', tribunal is told

Former garda commissioner Martin Callinan denies the claim
Former garda commissioner Martin Callinan denies the claim

A former garda commissioner described two whistleblowers as "f**king headbangers" and said one of them "fiddles with kids", the Disclosures Tribunal has heard.

Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness alleged Martin Callinan made the "headbangers" comment about former garda John Wilson and Sgt Maurice McCabe after a meeting of the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on January 23, 2014.

He said he believed the second remark was a reference to Sgt McCabe, about whom false allegations had been circulating in Leinster House.

Mr Callinan denies the TD's account of what was said.


Mr McGuinness, then chairman of the PAC, went to shake hands with Mr Callinan following the PAC meeting, which examined the controversy over the abuse of the penalty points system.

During that meeting, Mr Callinan made his now infamous "disgusting" remark in relation to the activities of the two whistleblowers.

The TD said that as he arrived over to Mr Callinan, the then commissioner was in a group of people which included his eventual successor Noirin O'Sullivan and former garda press officer Supt Dave Taylor.

He said Mr Callinan told him a story that related to an incident on Grafton Street involving horses in 1983, which Mr Wilson had responded to when he was a garda.

He alleged Mr Callinan said Mr Wilson pulled a "k*****r off the horse".

"He confiscated the horse, mounted it and rode it back to the barracks where he tied it to the railings. And the other fella fiddles with kids. That is the type of f**king headbangers I'm dealing with," Mr Callinan is alleged to have said.

Mr McGuinness agreed with tribunal counsel Pat Marrinan SC that he had felt "outraged" by the remarks.

Michael O'Higgins SC, counsel for Supt Taylor, said his client had heard the "kiddie fiddler" comment.

Mr McGuinness said he was "deeply troubled" by what he heard, did not partake in the conversation and "just moved on".

At the time, the PAC was considering whether to take evidence from Sgt McCabe on penalty points abuses, something it ultimately did during a private session, despite opposition from Mr Callinan.

Mr Marrinan said Mr Callinan had a different account of what was said and read from a statement given by the former commissioner.

"I do recall that I inquired from Mr McGuinness as to whether former garda John Wilson would be called to give evidence. Mr McGuinness responded: 'You must be joking. Sure he's a f**king header'," Mr Callinan's statement said.

Mr McGuinness said Mr Callinan's account was "untrue" and that he had the greatest of respect for Mr Wilson.

The tribunal heard that the day after the PAC hearing, Mr McGuinness met Mr Callinan in the car park of a Dublin hotel at the commissioner's request.

"He [Mr Callinan] suggested he [Sgt McCabe] had sexually abused family and an individual, that he was not to be trusted and I had made a grievous error in relation to the Public Accounts Committee hearing because of this and would find myself in serious trouble," said Mr McGuinness.


Despite what Mr Callinan had told him, the TD said he "made a judgment call" that the PAC should not be deterred from hearing from Sgt McCabe.

In his statement, Mr Callinan said much of the discussion in the car park related to concerns he had about data protection issues, arising from garda documents given to the committee.

Mr Callinan also alleged that it was Mr McGuinness, and not him, who had raised the issue of allegations against Sgt McCabe.

"I didn't at any point, as alleged, seek to discredit Sgt McCabe or undermine the workings of the Public Accounts Committee," Mr Callinan said.

However, Mr McGuinness rejected Mr Callinan's version of events.

"The account that I have given to the tribunal is absolutely true," the TD said.

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