Three prominent public figures have claimed that former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan attacked the character of Sgt Maurice McCabe, including in two of the cases, associating him with child sexual abuse, the Charleton Tribunal was told today.
By Michael Clifford
The tribunal, which is investigating whether there was a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe within An Garda Síochána, heard that Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness claims that, in January, Mr Callinan told him Sgt McCabe was being investigated for sexually abusing members of his own family.
The Comptroller and Auditor General has claimed that Mr Callinan told him around the same time that there were allegations of sex abuse against Sgt McCabe. Mr McCarthy has told the tribunal that he believed “the words he [Callinan] had used meant that Sgt McCabe was accused of, and was being (or would be) investigated for alleged sexual offences”.
RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher Hayes has told the tribunal that in December 2013 in a conversation in RTÉ, Mr Callinan told him Sgt McCabe had a “lot of psychological issues and psychiatric issues” and “there were other things he could tell me about him, horrific things of the worst kind, but he did not elaborate”, Boucher Hayes has stated.
Mr Callinan has denied ever briefing against Sgt McCabe and specifically denies the claims made by Messrs McGuinness, McCarthy and Boucher Hayes.
The opening statement of the tribunal yesterday also asserted there is no direct evidence that the current commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan was involved in a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe in 2013 and 2014 when she was deputy commissioner.
The tribunal lawyer Diarmuid McGuinness did, however, pose the question that if the claims made about Mr Callinan have substance, “how could it be that the person with whom he worked most closed, namely then Deputy Commissioner O’Sullivan, could not have known of his expressed state of mind that is described in such graphic terms by others, and why there is no mention of this in statements to the tribunal thus far?”
Today’s hearing also heard that the former head of the Garda press office, Supt David Taylor, has said he was told by then Commissioner Callinan that “we need to hit back [at Sgt McCabe]” at a time when Sgt McCabe was making allegations of serious malpractice in the force.
“I was to say that Maurice McCabe was driven by agendas, he is motivated by revenge, and that revenge is driving his allegations, the sexual allegations made against him by somebody else’s daughter a number of years ago. I would say that I always did clarify to the journalists that a file had gone to the DPP and that there was no prosecution but that was the narrative.”
The tribunal will also examine how a false claim of sexual assault against Sgt McCabe was generated by Tusla in 2013 and whether this was used by members of the gardaí to smear Sgt McCabe. It will also examine whether false allegations of sexual abuse were relied on by Ms O’Sullivan to attack Sgt McCabe’s character at the O’Higgins inquiry, which examined his complaints of Garda malpractice.
Hearings are expected to begin in two weeks.