The former Minister for Justice was told by the Garda commissioner that a whistleblower might be upset after being investigated for an alleged sexual offence, a tribunal has heard.
Alan Shatter told the Disclosures Tribunal on Thursday that while serving as a minister he had spoken to then commissioner Martin Callinan about Sergeant Maurice McCabe – who made allegations about the quashing of penalty points by gardai.
He said: “I said to him is there something in the background that I should know, is there some other issue of concern and his reaction was to say that the only issue that occurred to him was that some years ago … that an allegation was made of a sexual nature in relation to Sgt McCabe, that it had been fully investigated and the DPP decided there was no basis for prosecution.
“He then speculated that perhaps Sgt McCabe was upset at the manner the matter was investigated.
“I took that to mean this had impacted in some personal way with Sgt McCabe and that this was impacting on just how he could or should engage with Garda.”
He added: “I didn’t query it any further and my only perception of it, contrary to the way Martin Callinan has been portrayed, was he didn’t make a big deal of it.”
He said when dealing with issues raised by Sgt McCabe “you were sort of sinking in quicksand” and although he had made allegations which were correct, he also made complaints which were unsubstantiated.
Mr Shatter said he had described Sgt McCabe as not co-operating with an inquiry into the allegations but later publicly apologised because he discovered the Garda inspectorate had made no effort to contact him despite being aware of his identity.
The former minister, who resigned in 2014 following a report into Sgt McCabe’s allegations by Sean Guerin, said he felt “publicly pilloried” for his attempts to resolve issues with the penalty points system.
He said: “I was expecting to be vindicated, not condemned, by Mr Guerin.”
Earlier on Thursday, former Garda press officer Superintendent David Taylor denied that he had made up allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe in order to “bring down” former commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan after he was arrested as part of an investigation into media leaks.
During three and a half days of evidence, Mr Taylor told the tribunal that Mr Callinan said Sgt McCabe’s allegations about gardai quashing penalty points were motivated by maliciousness because he had been investigated over a sexual offence allegation.
He claimed he was ordered to pass that information on to journalists.
The Disclosures Tribunal is investigating allegations that Garda chiefs orchestrated a smear campaign, including false sex abuse claims, against Sgt McCabe – a scandal which almost brought down Ireland’s fragile minority government last year.
Mr Callinan had been due to begin his evidence on Thursday but is now expected to appear at the hearing at Dublin Castle on Friday.
He and Ms O’Sullivan, who both retired amid criticism of their handling of the whistleblower controversy, deny Mr Taylor’s claims.
- Press Association