Former Garda Press Officer names journalists who received negative briefings on Maurice McCabe

Supt David Taylor

The former Garda Press Officer Supt David Taylor has named nine journalists at the Disclosures Tribunal who he said were negatively briefed about Sgt McCabe.

All have either denied receiving briefings or they are claiming privilege on relation to their conversations with the former press officer.

The nine journalists are Paul Williams (Irish Independent), Paul Reynolds and John Burke (RTE), Conor Lally (Irish Times), John Mooney (Sunday Times), Michael O'Toole (Irish Star), Cormac O'Keeffe, Daniel McConnell and Juno McEnroe (Irish Examiner).

The inquiry heard that Mr Williams, Mr Reynolds, Mr O'Toole and Mr Burke have denied receiving negative briefings whil the others are claiming privilege.

Superintendent Dave Taylor also told the Disclosures Tribunal this afternoon that Commissioner Martin Callinan told him that Sergeant McCabe raised the penalty point issue, driven by revenge for being investigated for a sexual offence years ago.

Former garda commissioner Martin Callinan denies allegations by Supt Taylor that he gave the press officer directions to brief the media negatively on Sgt McCabe.

A 2006 abuse allegation by Miss D led to a garda investigation into Sgt McCabe following an allegation of abuse in 2006. The DPP directed no prosecution in the case, saying there was no evidence of a crime being committed.

Supt Taylor confirmed to the tribunal that he was waiving any journalistic privilege as a confidential or protected source. "I've signed my waiver and I would encourage them to come forward to assist the tribunal and establish the truth," the superintendent said.

Tribunal barrister Diarmaid McGuinness SC asked if he was doing this to free up any journalist who would confirm what he was saying.

"That was my intention yes, to fully assist the tribunal in its work," Supt Taylor said.

Supt Taylor said that he received directions to brief negatively from Commissioner Callinan and then deputy commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan "was aware of it, because I spoke to her".

"I spoke to her about the media, how we were briefing about Maurice McCabe's motivation," Supt Taylor said.

Supt Taylor said that journalists did not react when he told them the information, and "they would take it on board as a briefing."

"I got no negative reaction if you're asking me that," Supt Taylor said.

"These were mostly at the scenes of serious garda incidents, at the side of press conferences, sometimes over the phone if they would ring. It was a multiplicity of locations, it was opportunist," Supt Taylor said.

Martin Callinan
Martin Callinan

Asked by the tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton if he could give details of a specific reaction by any journalist on being briefed on Sgt McCabe, Supt Taylor could not give an example.

The chairman asked if none of the journalists reacted to "the explosive news that the man who is apparently a national hero is a child abuser”.

Supt Taylor said the journalists "just took the information”.

Supt Taylor said that he specifically did not brief journalists Michael Clifford and Katie Hannon, who were reporting about Sgt McCabe.

Supt Taylor also went on to say he had not intended to omit Debbie McCann (Irish Mail on Sunday) and Eavan Murray (Irish Sun) from the initial list of journalists he provided, and he was always going to complete the list.

The Disclosures Tribunal is investigating whether there was a smear campaign against Maurice McCabe directed by senior garda management.

Superintendent Dave Taylor has said from mid 2013, Commissioner Martin Callinan was frustrated that the penalty point issue wasn’t going away and told him to tell the media that Sgt McCabe was motivated by revenge after being investigated for a sexual offence allegation in 2006.

- Digital Desk & Gerard Cunningham

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